Thursday, March 28, 2013

Circle of Friends: GONE GIRL and Green Beans

This past Monday night, the Friends met at my house. These gatherings are always one of the highlights of my month, but this particular meeting seemed especially enjoyable. Maybe because I hadn’t been able to attend the past two months. Maybe because all the delectable comfort food they brought hit the spot on a cold “spring” night. Or maybe because Gone Girl—our book for March—lent itself to a very interesting discussion.

The Friends were divided in their opinions of this NY Times bestselling mystery by Gillian Flynn. Basically, it is the story of Amy and Nick, married for five years and hell-bent on destroying each other. Amy is narcissistic, self-absorbed, and psychopathic; Nick merely narcissistic and self-absorbed. Neither is remotely likeable. About two-thirds of the Friends enjoyed the book; one third didn’t. Those who did enjoy it liked it mainly for plot, for its “shock value.” As one Friend so succinctly put it, “It creeped me out.” It isn’t surprising the book’s appeal lies mainly in its plot, as there is NOTHING in either of the two lead characters we can even remotely admire. One Friend said she “admired” Amy’s “evilness,” but I’m thinking she found the “evilness” intriguing rather than admirable. The book did lead to a discussion on the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath—a point we never never fully clarified. One googled source stated the issue is debated at the “highest levels.” We decided we definitely fit into that category!
Having given the opinions of the two-thirds who favored the book, I’ll now give voice to the few dissenters, of which I’m one. Before writing this post, I checked the reviews on Amazon. Given the book’s popularity, I fully expected to see it rated as a five-star or at least a four-star read. I was surprised to see it earned only three and a half stars. The one-star reviews expressed my exact sentiment: There is nothing positive to be gained from reading this book. Or as Miss Dupree, my eleventh-grade English teacher, would have said, “It has no redeeming social value.” As I implied above, there is no protagonist in this story—no one to “pull for.” A protagonist doesn’t have to be perfect, but he/she should have at least some qualities that make him/her worthy of our sympathy. Nope, no such person in Gone Girl. Like Tom and Daisy Buchanan on steroids, the lead characters tear through their egomaniacal lives, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. And we don’t even have a Jay Gatsby to feel sorry for.
As for plot, I’ll admit, Flynn writes a great beginning. The first few pages had me hooked, hungrily reading and turning pages. About a third of the way in, I was suspecting the major twist, and about halfway through, I found the plot to be contrived and unrealistic. My husband and I have been married for almost thirty-nine years, and the only prediction I’ll make with absolute certainty about him is he won’t eat beets. The amazing Amy is able to foretell every single move her husband will make. She might be brilliant, but even a genius wife can’t do that. I thought I might be alone in this assessment, but I found many on Amazon who agree with me. For us, Gone Girl can’t be gone soon enough.
Something all the Friends did agree on—every single dish deserved five stars! It was almost impossible to decide on a single recipe to share with you, but one mentioned several times was Jean’s Beans—prepared by Pat. If only all veggies could taste this delicious!     
Jean's Beans

1 lb. fresh green beans

4 T butter (I use less)

1/2 cup minced onion

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup celery, minced

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1 tsp rosemary or 1/4 tsp dried (98% of the time I use fresh, but I did use dried once and it was still good)

1/4 tsp basil

3/4 tsp salt - I use half this amount if I salt the water the beans cook in

Trim the ends off the beans and cut them diagonally into 2" pieces. Cook in enough water to cover them for 15 mins. or until tender

Drain and keep warm.

Melt the butter and saute the onion, celery and garlic for about 5 mins. Add the parsley, rosemary, basil and salt, cook for another the 10 mins. The recipe says to cover them, but I don't.

Toss everything together and serve.

The original recipe is called Herbed Green Beans and Jean found it in the cookbook San Francisco A La Carte which is put out by the Junior League of San Francisco. It has become the go to holiday recipe for most of my family.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as the Friends did. And please share with me your opinion of Gone Girl.

10 comments:

  1. Gosh, Dee Dee - one wonders how Gone Girl made it to the top. The book is on my reading list and though I don't think I'll "enjoy" it, I'm curious to see how that might have happened when so many readers had a negative response.

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  2. Well, Karen, as I said, more people liked this book than didn't. And I think the "curious" factor has a lot to do with its sales. Do read the book and decide for yourself. I'd love to hear your opinion after you read it. And thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog!

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  3. Thank you, Dee Dee. I have wondered if I should read it, and now I won't. Too many other good books to read!

    Julie

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  4. Although the characters were less than sterling--the kind this reader loves to hate--I couldn't stop reading. The author must have taken a vacation and lost her train of thought before she wrote the ending though. Loved your book review and am looking forward to the beans in my household!

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  5. I'll definitely be skipping the book, but your post reminded me how enjoyable discussing a controversial book w/fellow book clubbers can be. After a hiatus from my group due to an overbooked schedule, I'm ready to get back to the chat!

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  6. Gone Girl was one of the few books that I started and decided life is too short to finish. It put me in a bad mood. That being said I love greeen beans, friends, and lively conversation. Enjoyed the post!

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  7. I have tried to read Gone Girl (borrowed from the library on 7-day loan) and can never get through it. I want to read it, but it'll have to wait until summer.

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  8. I'll skip the book-good to know. But as far as the recipe, you had me at 4T of butter. Really, is there anything not made better by butter?

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    1. LOL! Nothing I can think of, Sabine! Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  9. I'm not a big mystery fan when it comes to reading or viewing (suspense makes me tense,) so I probably would not have picked it up. However, it's refreshing to read that there are still people who think if one is going to spend her time reading something, it should have SOME redeeming value... :) It took me a long time to learn I don't need to finish a book I don't like, and I still find that challenging - especially if I invested some money into it.

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