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- Publié sur Amazon.com
I've read Camille Styles' blog for years now (back when it was first "Style Notes"). I love how the website evolved and continued to improve over time with fresh ideas and content, and different voices contributing to a variety of series. Naturally, I was excited about the book. My first impressions - the layout and photographs are beautiful, and the writing is easy to follow.
When the author was promoting the book on a video, she described it as "original content that has never been seen before" - while some of the ideas are innovative (e.g., setting a fall table in shades of amethyst and ivy, which are not your typical fall shades, but it works - I would have liked to see more ideas like this), some of the tips are common sense (e.g., toasting nuts before using, cleaning up the guest room!). I wish she could have extended on her ideas by providing step-by-step pictures to go along with the tips on floral arrangements, for example, like the use of chicken wire and floral tape that she mentions on p. 30. It's not that the instructions aren't described clearly, but visuals do help; these could have easily taken the place of the many pictures of the author and/or her child (who in fairness is adorable). This could have made the chapters more "meaty", considering that many of the chapters are just 3-4 pages long.
I found some of the information unnecessary, e.g. the chapters ("chapters" meaning 1-2 pages) devoted to "connecting with all the senses to usher in each season", which, for lack of better words, are your typical seasonal cliches. As the author uses the seasons as an organizer for the book, perhaps bulleted lists of produce, foliage, or flowers that are typical for the season would be helpful for the reader to know what to look out for during that season (though I understand some might be obvious, others may not be).
I didn't quite care for the makeup and style tips much (again, some are common sense, e.g., dressing comfortably, planning outfit in advance); I suppose that is just my personal preference as I am more focused on the food and things going smoothly when entertaining.
I like the different "themes" for parties with menus already thought out. The recipes are fairly straightforward, and a number of them also add a little twist to everyday staples using less-common ingredients. Some examples are the chicken with a dipping sauce of yogurt and harissa, popcorn with ras el hanout - both of which are spices/condiments I enjoy using and experimenting with. Other new-to-me combinations are the thyme popovers with ginger-pear butter, fennel in marinated olives (not my usual go-to spice), and the addition of green apple in tabbouleh, for example. Her salad combinations seem to be her strength.
The storytelling adds a personal touch and gives the reader more insight into the author's point of view and life experiences (the story about the burnt turkey and plumbing problem on Thanksgiving dinner was unforgettable). The writing is mostly enjoyable but perhaps the editor could have caught on to the overuse of some words such as "brimming", i.e., "CSA box brimming with produce" - this may be a little nitpicky but I do a lot of writing and proofreading for my job, and after reading the book cover to cover in one sitting, it tends to sound repetitive.
I also would have liked to see more "practical" tips from her experience in event planning/catering and translated these into the context of entertaining at home. For example, one of her appetizer recipes requires endive leaves as a "holder" for figs and blue cheese because they hold up well at room temperature. As another example, she laid out a Thanksgiving prep timeline in one of her chapters; it would have been nice to see similar tips in her other themed celebrations for consistency - these can be helpful for the entertainer who tends to prepare by himself or herself and isn't adept at multi-tasking. I understand this may go against the whole "low-key" and "effortless" entertaining premise of the book, but it has to be said that there IS effort and thoughtful preparation that goes into making gatherings APPEAR effortless!
I do appreciate how she gave credit to each individual who contributed to the book - various persons/companies are credited within the chapters and not just at the end, which appears to demonstrate the collaborative effort towards the book. I will admit that it's not the first book I reach for when I want to try a new recipe, but I kept the book more for inspiration. Overall, the book is visually beautiful, many of the recipes and other content are interesting and engaging enough, but there is some room for improvement.