Posts tagged ‘stories’

Review: A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

A Portrait of Emily Price by [Reay, Katherine]

“Francesca sported a perfect American accent–one that stretched flawlessly from Chicago to Seattle, dipping down through Colorado rather than passing up near the Canadian border.”

This…this is why I loved Katherine Reay’s Book, A Portrait of Emily Price. These characters are friends to me, now. Emily simultaneously broke my heart and warmed it with her instinct to fix everything, whether it be a pan with a loose handle or a teenager whose home Emily was restoring from a fire, whether it was her sister or her mother-in-law. I don’t do spoilers, but this instinct to fix things comes from Emily’s childhood, and it is the very thing that brings her family to a boil. And solves their problems, in a way, ultimately through faith and family. I loved watching the art come out of Emily the way pizza came out of Ben, pasta out of Donata, and bread from Lucio.

And that’s the thing. Often in a Hallmark movie, a character has a job…something artsy or community-service oriented in some way. But the writers/actors fail to make that a real part of who the character is in their core. It’s kind of a token designation that a character is a florist or a poverty lawyer or whatever.

Reay has no such failure! The artsy, fix-it side of Emily, the food-and-family side of Ben made them who they are, and it made the story what it is. I want to be frowned at by Donata, given a book by Lucio, and fed by Ben. I want to help Emily fix something and watch Joseph paint. These are people I feel like I know. This is a family whose Sunday Dinners I want to join.

I was surprised not to find myself in Atlanta or Italy when I had to look up from the book…Oh, the field of sunflowers! I wanted to go sit there until they turned my direction. I want to go truffle hunting with their dog.

But the story of Emily and this family stopped my heart in places, as it frequently stopped Emily’s heart, left her not knowing what to do, panicked. As warm as these people are, as close as they are…the secrets buried in this family are heart-breaking. And heart-warming.

It’s that kind of book.

So what did I not like about A Portrait of Emily Price? The end. I literally flipped the page on my Kindle, desperate to read more, not conscious I had reached the end. But it was over. Reay does not tell us what happens with Joseph (oops, almost committed a spoiler there). She leaves us hanging, having to think it through for ourselves. Heart-warming. And heart-breaking.

Yep. It’s that kind of book.

Blessings,

Voni

Flash fiction: The Ice Cream Competition

writingprompt1

The ice cream Jeff had made looked beautiful…all the colors swirled just right, an invitation to the perfect creamy summer treat.

But the flavors were all wrong.

Red tasted like orange, instead of raspberry or cherry. Or even apple.

The orange tasted like licorice.

Green looked like mint or pistachio. But it tasted like popcorn.

Yellow tasted like…he tasted it again…sunshine. Nothing else to describe it. It was wonderful on the tongue, fruity and fresh and creamy and sweet and tart—not too tart—all at once. But it was supposed to be lemon. He dipped his finger back into the left-over yellow and closed his eyes as the flavor tingled each taste bud.

Blue should’ve been blueberry. Yet it had a distinct garlic taste. Garlic ice cream? Really? As if he would ever do that!

And the purple. Worst of all. It tasted just like tunafish.

He saw the three judge’s faces crinkle in disgust as they tasted his rainbow ice cream cone. He would not be winning this competition.

Crud! He’d pulled out all the stops to win. The judges owned this famous creamery and were looking for a young up-and-coming partner. What could’ve happened?

He gazed over at the creamery’s famous Wall of Flavors just in time to see Michael messing with the “licorice” and “orange” labels two of the flavoring bottles. Well. That explained how his flavors got mixed up. But they would never have tunafish and garlic. He glared at his competitor.

But wait…that sunshine flavor still filled his mouth.

The judges hadn’t seen Michael switching the labels. Or the two presumably smelly containers that looked just like the Wall of Flavors bottles that practically hung out of the man’s apron pockets.

They were too busy gushing over Michael’s peppermint mocha ice cream.

He strode over to his competitor. “Funny joke, Michael. Switching the labels on the bottles.”

He shrugged. “Whatever it takes to win.”

True. With Michael as his competitor, it would have been smart to taste his ice cream bases before putting them in the ice cream maker. But he’d been making so many different flavors, he hadn’t had time. His overconfidence had beaten him.

“It’s okay. I just have one question.”

Michael shrugged again.

“Which label did you switch with the lemon flavoring?” He leaned against the wall nonchalantly.

Michael pointed. “The yellow one over there without the label. Banana? I don’t know.”

Thank goodness. “Like I said, funny joke,” he responded, as though it made no difference. Michael walked over to where the prize ceremony was getting ready to start.

Jeff sauntered over to where Michael had pointed on the Wall of Flavors and picked up the small yellow bottle without the label. He opened it and sniffed. Definitely not banana. It was that sunshine flavor.

He looked around. Everyone else was focused on the awarding of the prize to Michael. No one was looking.

He stuck it in his pocket.

Then he left.

This could make all the difference.