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Episode 15 – Author’s choice

Karen Turner

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Joining me this episode for an online chat is Australian author Karen Turner!

Karen is the author of three novels, Torn (2013), Inviolate (2014) and most recently in 2019, Stormbird. Prior to this, Karen published an eclectic compilation of short stories, All That and Everything, many of which have won literary awards, including the Society of Women Writers Vic Biennial Literary Award, and the Free XpressSion Literary Competition.

Stormbird, is a romantic fiction novel set in 1943, and delivers the reader to the once glorious Broughton Hall, where war-widowed young mother, Jessica Barrow, lives with her children in the now dilapidated manor house. It’s here that she discovers a mysterious diary and through the story held within, she finds an independence and passion she’s never known before. This new-found strength will be put to the ultimate test when she encounters a stranger; a German bomber who has been shot down near Broughton Hall. It also has the touch of the paranormal in the form of a ghostly presence! 

Karen is a passionate foodie, making her own chocolates, hot cross buns, choux pastry and sourdough bread. It was such fun chatting with her about writing historical fiction, using her mother’s memories of growing up in war torn Britain to bring her stories to life, and the joys of eating a packet of Tim Tams!

 

The pairings: 

Too Much Tuscan Sun: Confessions of a Chianti tour guide by Dario Castagno 

A Tuscan guide whose client base is predominantly American, Dario has spent more than a decade taking individuals and small groups on customised tours through the Chianti region of Tuscany. Too Much Tuscan Sun is Dario’s account of some of his more remarkable customers, from the obsessive and the oblivious to the downright lunatic. It is also a primer on Tuscany–its charms and its culture. 

Structured around a typical Tuscan year, Dario takes us through the sights, smells, and sounds of Chianti during each of the twelve months, including the festivities and pageantry that accord with the season, most notable the Palio-the bareback horse race that consumes the social energies of the people of Siena for all of July and August. Dario also intersperses an account of his own life and times-that of a transplanted British “little lord” who learns to love the wilds of Chianti; of his discovery and adoption of abandoned peasant farmhouses; of his apprenticeship in the wine industry; and of his arduous transformation from bohemian layabout to thriving Tuscan guide.

 

Karen suggests pairing this funny, charming book with a sharp and sprightly Aperol Spritz, some warm homebaked ciabatta and fresh olive oil for dunking!

 

The Moon In The Water by Pamela Belle

Thomazine, born heiress to the Heron fortune, is orphaned at the age of ten. She grew to womanhood at the great house of Goldhayes with her cousins. Wild, headstrong Francis, the rebellious cousin, has his heart captured by Thomazine, but the sweep of time and politics was against them. Francis was banished, imprisoned and Thomazine was forced into bleak and loveless wedlock with Dominic, whom she could never love. As the drums and steel of war marched across England, with King against Parliament, their love must meet its test and so Thomazine rides North, forsaking all else for her heart’s desire. 

This is one of Karen’s favourite books, with its meticulously researched account of life during the 17th century English civil war as well as  a delicious forbidden love story. For its British-ness Karen recommends a fresh pot of loose leaf tea on a silver tray holding beautiful china cups and then, because its her favourite, a pack of original Tim Tams, still in their plastic tray, munching away on the whole packet and dunking a few in the tea for good measure. 

 

The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie

When her elderly mother is hospitalised unexpectedly, Vicki and her sister travel to their parents’ isolated ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to help their father. They have been estranged from their parents for many years and are horrified by what they discover on their arrival.

Their mother has always been mentally unstable, but for years camouflaged her delusions and unpredictability. Over the decades she has managed to shut herself and her husband away from the outside world.

Vicki’s father, who has been systematically starved and kept a prisoner in his own home, begins to realise what has happened to him and embarks upon plans of his own to combat his wife.

Vicki quickly realises how dangerous, and potentially life-threatening, her mother’s behaviour is. She fears for her father’s life and her own safety if her mother returns home. The power play between her parents takes a dramatic turn and leaves Vicki and her sister embroiled in situations that are ludicrous, heart-breaking, and frightening.

Justine thought that this dark family memoir, beautifully written even when plumbing the depths of hurt, confusion and disorientation brought about by her mothers personality disorder, needed a sweet hit to help it go down easier.Something warm, rich but with a kick – a Red Wine Hot Chocolate. Coconut milk, 70% dark chocolate, a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, sugar if you want it and of course, a decent glug of red wine. Pop it all in a saucepan until it’s nice and hot and then sip slowly and enjoy!

  

  

This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.