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A book club meeting in December deserves a holiday title, right? A few years ago, Wine Lovers Book Club read The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson, which made it onto my list of worst book club reads, unfortunately. With Gregory Maguire’s Hiddensee, I hoped for a holiday-ish tale with a little more ham on the bone.
Cracking the Holiday Decor
With Sarytah hosting, we knew we were in for delicious food and delightful decorations. She always goes above and beyond, like gathering ingredients for us to prepare DIY sugar scrub for Beauty to Die For, one of our 2016 reads. Her efforts for Hiddensee didn’t disappoint.
A miniature Christmas tree served as the centerpiece for the table, decorated with holiday mice ornaments and guarded by nutcrackers. She even found nutcracker napkins! On a nearby bar cart, a sweet wooden Klara tenderly held her own nutcracker.
Das Ist Gut
The menu for the book club could practically write itself. Anything holiday goes, right? But Sarytah took recipes from her German ancestry to give it an authentic touch. She served German potato salad, delightfully tangy and vinegary; bratwurst cooked in stout beer; cucumber dill salad; and rustic bread. For dessert, she shared Weissella Gingerbread cookies. Yum!
What would a Wine Lovers Book Club be without the wine? Sarytah found some good German options with Blue Vin Riesling and Red Vin, a “sweet” (but not so sweet) red blend, both about $10/bottle. For the non-wine drinkers, you could also serve beer–plenty of that in Hiddensee– or Kinderpuncsh, a German non-alcoholic Christmas punch.
About the Book
My hopes for a meatier holiday book were satisfied with Hiddensee, and the rest of the club agreed, giving it an overall rating of 3 Stars (Liked It), although there was one 4 Stars (Really Liked It) rating from @thefunnylittle1.
Pros: Writing was beautiful, imagery was well done; loved that the characters were dynamic and damaged; enjoyed the connections with stories we know
Cons: Lots of layers to decipher, confusing; lingered too long on sex scenes; parts seemed to drag
Suggestion for Your Book Club
Shelly1 wished she had read The Nutcracker or a synopsis before she read Hiddensee, thinking it would have made it easier to spot the cross-over elements between Maguire’s work and the original and created a richer reading experience. Check out this version on Genius of E.T.A. Hoffman’s original The Nutcracker and the Mouse King or NPR’s discussion of the history of E.T.A. Hoffman and his work in “No Sugar Plums Here: The Dark, Romantic Roots of ‘The Nutcracker.’”