A Fifty-Year Silence

Book club reader

I am so pleased and honored you have chosen A Fifty-Year Silence for your book club. Below is a list of questions to get the ball rolling if you’d like them. In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal certain aspects of the story. If you have not finished reading A Fifty-Year Silence, I respectfully suggest that you wait before reviewing this guide.

My book club is too far flung to get together in person (we meet over Skype), but for those of you who are lucky enough to have your book buddies in the same place, I’m going to get started with some snack suggestions to put you in the mood:

Salty: Goat cheese is a staple food in the Ardèche. If yours is very soft and fresh, then you can serve it plain with some baguette, or mix it with fresh chives or sundried tomatoes and serve it spread on endive leaves. Another thing we eat a lot of around here is tapenade. You can spread it on little crackers or dip carrot sticks in it. It’s good with goat cheese, too!

Sweet: The Rhône valley is known for its fruit – depending on the season, cherries, apricots, blueberries, blackberries or figs – and chestnuts are the emblematic fruit of the Ardèche. Sweet chestnut paste, if you can find it, is absolutely delicious served with plain yogurt (or vanilla ice cream, if you’re feeling decadent). Candied chestnuts (marrons glacés) are a bit easier to locate outside of France, and are divine little treats.

Drinks: Well, wine, of course – if you can’t find Ardèche wine, then a Côtes du Rhône will give you a good idea of what local wines taste like. But I’m all for supporting your local winegrower, if you have one. It’s what we do around here! And if you don’t drink wine, the Ardèche is also known for its delicious fizzy mineral waters, to which all kinds of wonderful health properties are attributed. You can drink it plain, or with a lemon wedge, or with fruit-flavored syrup – lemon is the most common choice. Apple or pear cider and cherry juice are also popular beverages around here. And if it’s before five, then coffee, served in little teeny espresso cups. .

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