Shadow of Night

Modern witch Diana Bishop and her vampire lover, Matthew Clairmont, are back in Deborah Harkness’s Shadow of Night. Diana and Matthew, scientific creatures who research DNA and alchemy in the new world, time travel back to merry Old England’s Elizabethan Age to hone Diana’s witching skills and look for the elusive book – Ashmole 782 – that started the tale.

Harkness cleverly manages the time differential with threads weaving through the magic, and delivers as much adventure, mystery, romance – and fun – as she did in A Discovery of Witches, her first book in this All Souls trilogy. If you are a fan of sixteenth century English literature, you will marvel at the literary luminaries that Diana meets – Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” will never be the same.

As a recognized scholar and continuing student of Elizabethan London, Harkness adds details that create the clothing, manners, and rivalries of the Old World better than any Renaissance fair. Scientific inquiry is a major catalyst in the plot, and Harkness sets the record straight on who invented the telescope, sending me to google Galileo and Thomas Harriot.

Like the first book, this one is long and complicated with plot twists and surprises.

Read A Discovery of Witches first, if you can – check out my review here

It’s going to be a long wait until the third book’s final installment, but Hollywood is already planning the movies.

Shakespeare’s Kitchen

Today is William Shakespeare’s birthday, and the Bard will be the subject of praise for his plays, his sonnets, his universal themes, his language – but probably few will be thinking about Shakespeare’s Kitchen – not the 2007 collection of short stories by Lore Segal – the cookbook by Francine Segan.

I found this cookbook at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, looking for the recipes for the sweet raspberry tarts served during intermission in the courtyard of the Adams Theater.  They were not in the book, but I did find apple tarts with candied orange crust, and the meat pies that I had passed up for the sweet.

Shakespeare’s Kitchen includes more than recipes and full page pictures of food that jump off the page –  herb tart, Renaissance rice balls, leg of lamb with oyster stuffing, and more.  Segan’s directions are clear and simple as she draws from a number of Elizabethan cooks, but she also includes recipe excerpts from The Good Huswifes Jewell, 1587 with the original spelling and grammar:

“Boyle your ryce, and put the yolkes of two or three Egges into the ryce and when it is boyled, put it into a dish, and season it with Sugar, Synamon and ginger and butter, and the juyce of two or three orenges, and set it on the fire againe.”

Quotes from appropriate Shakespearean plays sprinkle the recipes; Orange Scented Rice includes a quote from The Winter’s Tale...

“…Rice, – what will this sister of mine do with rice?                  But my father hath made her mistress of the feast, and she lays it on.”

And Segan offers information about the food of Shakespeare’s time – oysters were plentiful but no chocolate.  “Shakespeare never tasted {it}. The Spanish discovered chocolate in Mexico…it wasn’t introduced to England until after Shakespeare’s lifetime.”  And no tea or coffee.

Whether or not you decide to try any of the recipes, Shakespeare’s Kitchen is an easy way to vicariously feast with the Bard.  After all,

Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers…                                  “Romeo and Juliet”

Related Post:  Courage Tart