Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee. Food For Thought.

I want to start this review by saying I really enjoyed this book, even though it led to the biggest baking disaster that I have ever experienced. More about that later.

The story begins on a snowy night in New York City. Alexander “Sandy” Vandermeer Regal Portman is on his way to pick up his wife Emily, from the Upper West Side Animal Clinic where she works as a volunteer. When a yellow taxi cab swerves to avoid a little white dog running loose in the street Sandy dies in the ensuing collision.
For reasons that gradually become clear, as the story unfolds, Sandy is given a second chance at life, a chance to make amends to his wife. When he awakens to find himself inside the battered and broken body of the ugly little dog that caused the accident he has no clue just what this second chance will cost him.

 “I don’t know how long I lay there, moaning in the semidarkness and barn stench, without dying before I heard a door open. “Einstein?” It was a woman’s voice, one that I recognised. I was stunned and overjoyed when Emily appeared before the cage, her blue eyes filled with concern”
 “I named him without thinking, gently running my palm over the tufts of white wiry fur that stood up on his head and I knew that I had to save the animal, as if I could do so I could save my husband” 

Emily’s distant and cold hearted mother in law, Althea Portman, arranges Sandy’s funeral without consulting her. After the funeral she delivers another stunning blow when she tells Emily that her beloved home, an apartment in the Dakota building on the Upper West Side, belongs to the Portman Family Trust. It isn’t long before the eviction notice is served.
Emily adopts Einstein and brings him home.

 “We took a cab to the Dakota, my new dog stood on the seat next to me, his paws on the armrest so he could look out the window. He panted excitedly at the sight of the light brown sandstone and brick building with its high gables and deeply pitched roofs, balustrades and spandrels, the porte cochere archway leading in to the inner courtyard entrance.”

Emily is desperate to find proof that she owns the apartment, each evening after work she spends hours searching. When not searching, she bakes….. endless cupcakes, croissants and cookies.

cupcakes, croissants & cookies.
iternet images

Finally she resorts to ransacking Sandy’s private suite of rooms where she discovers his handwritten journals. As she reads her husband’s innermost thoughts Einstein tries to knock the last journal out of her hands.
Too late she discovers that for the last two years of their marriage Sandy had been unfaithful to her, many, many times.

“The pages forced me to admit what deep down I had already known but refused to see”

This isn't just a book about a marriage that went wrong, it's also about redemption as Sandy/Einstein tries to help Emily move on with her life and perhaps achieve as a dog, the greatness he always aspired to as a man, in the process. Sandy always dreamed of taking part in the New York marathon, when Emily can hardly drag herself out of bed to go to work in the morning Einstein forces her over the road and into Central Park.

I particularly enjoyed the relationship that develops between Emily and Einstein. As a dog owner of over 30 years I could relate to the “conversations” that the two of them have.

There is also a long list of other well drawn characters in this book, Emily’s rebellious younger sister Jordan; their deceased mother Lillian Barlow, a renowned leader of the feminist movement who influenced both of their lives greatly but in different ways; Emily’s work colleagues and neighbour Max.

I would give this book 4****.
Now to get back to that baking disaster.
Like Emily I love to bake and for this food for thought review decided that a New York cheesecake would be perfect.

internet image

Unfortunately ten minutes after the cheesecake was in the oven the spring form pan that it was baking in sprang open!
Oh! Yes, molten cheesecake, running out of the oven over the countertops. As I struggled to remove the baking rack the contents spilled all over the kitchen floor, disaster, ruined!
It’s a universal excuse but in this case it’s true the dog (Mr Ben) really did eat my homework, my floor has never been so clean!


once in a blue moon said...

Maggie I am gone again all week and reading this AND typing this on my tiny toy phone so I never get to see or expound like I want to, but what a treat your review is!!! Wait til you see mine, we are so far apart on visuals on this one!

ILOVE LOVE LOVE your NYC shots, so fun to see... And ny cheesecake was brilliant... Until the accident... Oy what a mess, I have had leaks, never an explosion!

I am going to try and link you, last time it didn't work, my cell can't cut, paste, hyperlink AND hold a signal that long, so be sure and comment on mine so they can trace you back because this is FABULOUS!

Your dog is adorable... Thanks so much for playing, such a wonderful review!

Mary said...

Hi Maggie~ What a great tour of NYC~ I love that you included the Dakota! It's fun to have a visual as you read along!

New York Cheesecake~ how clever & appropriate too for FFT! Sorry to read about your baking disaster~ Mr. Ben eating your homework is too funny! I have my own pair of floor cleaners~ always circling the kitchen island when there is any food preparation going on, in hopes of catching a bite or crumbs :)

Thanks for playing along! I'm posting my review Thursday night so I'll link yours then. I hope The Matchmaker is on your reading list~ a quirky read for sure, but you're in the right locale~ no google images required :)

vicki said...

Maggie- another great review! Thanks so much- this looks to be another great read you have found. Love the fabulous photos and---- LOVE your new profile picture-- (you are beautiful!)


Sarah said...

Maggie, like minds on this one. I wrote my review last week, but haven't posted it yet. Though I didn't do any cooking, my images are mostly NY. You know how I love NY and Central Park, so that was my focus. What a mess with the cheese cake.
Mr. Ben is so adorable! I'll post my review on Thursday evening. ~ sarah

Jeanie said...

Oh, Maggie, this sounds wonderful. I might recommend this one to my book club. What a well-written, complete review -- enough to help you sink your teeth into it and know you'd love the book.

Sorry about your cooking disaster -- we've all had those, haven't we -- but this sounds a little worse than most. Hope you could at least enjoy a little of the spoils!

Barbara said...

Good job, Maggie. I enjoyed the book too.

TheBookGirl said...

I loved this book -- I thought the way she voiced the character of Sandy was priceless!

Oh my, that is some cheesecake story! The closest thing I ever came to a similar disaster was one Thanksgiving when my roasting pan sprang a leak, causing the fat to drip all over the oven floor and sending smoke throughout the house, lol.

GardenofDaisies said...

Oh no! Cheesecake disaster! The book sounds good.