Last modified: 10/28/2015 8:17:20 PM
By TINKY WEISBLAT

For the Recorder

“Talking Underwater by Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo (Thorncraft Publishing, 308 pages, $17.99) and “Maple” by Katie Webster (Quirk Books, 176 pages, $22.95)



This week’s review books don’t seem to have a lot in common — but reading “Talking Underwater” while noshing on a tasty treat from “Maple” might just be the perfect fall literary experience.

Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo’s “Talking Underwater” is a moving novel about family, home, grief and adjusting to change.

The main character, Amy, is a fabric artist who grew up traveling with her family every summer to Cattail Beach, a magical place on the Massachusetts coast that always represented home to them even though they didn’t actually live there.

As a married adult with two small daughters, Amy remains close to her family, particularly to her sister Heather. She and Heather return to Cattail Beach every August and their parents are building a house near the shore to welcome all family members.

One August afternoon, tragedy strikes on the beach. Amy spends the next year re-evaluating her identity as a parent and an artist, her feelings for Cattail, and above all her relationship with Heather. The two have always been best friends and confidants. Now they are estranged.

DeLorenzo constructs her novel deftly, weaving her story with a mixture of flashbacks and flash-forwards. Amy’s journey toward acceptance of the changes in her life is heart wrenching but also sweet and honest. “Talking Underwater” is a quick read and a satisfying one.

Katie Webster’s “Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup” might seem on the surface to offer less poetry than “Talking Underwater” — until one starts looking at its exquisite color photography.

Webster lives in Vermont and likes to make her own maple syrup every spring. She is clearly committed to healthy eating but is not a fanatic about it, and she appears to be a highly imaginative cook.

Her book is designed to offer readers a smorgasbord of maple treats, many of them savory. It should also inspire home cooks to use their own imaginations to use maple in a variety of dishes.

Early in the book, the author outlines techniques for substituting the sappy substance for other sweeteners and she frequently chronicles the ways in which she has been inspired to adapt her favorite recipes to feature it.

Webster is particularly adept at inserting the syrup into Asian-inspired dishes, offering, for example, a sweet-and-sour Pad Thai and Asian pork cabbage rolls. I plan to make her maple turkey breakfast sausage and her carrot ginger soup soon. These recipes fairly shout “fall in New England.”

Book signings

Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo will sign copies of “Talking Underwater” at the World Eye Bookshop in Greenfield on Sunday, Oct. 11, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Katie Webster will sign copies of “Maple,” make pumpkin maple dip with apple wedges, and hand out maple thumbprint cookies on Sunday, Oct. 25, beginning at 3 p.m. at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley.

Tinky Weisblat is the author of “The Pudding Hollow Cookbook” and “Pulling Taffy.” Visit her website, www.TinkyCooks.com.


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