Most helpful positive review
48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
One of her best...............
on November 13, 2011
In her latest, and definitely one of her better publishing efforts, the Queen of Domesticity and all that resembles party perfection, has given us an updated version of her 1982 breakout book, "Entertaining".
In typical pristine fashion, Martha and her writing and publishing team, have obviously worked quite hard on creating this most beautiful collection of parties that range from casual to formal, and gatherings from small to large proportions, in the typical detailed atmosphere that people would expect from her.
This solid, heavy (6 pounds---yes, I weighed it!), large (10" x 11.5") lavish book on entertaining for all occasions has all the markings of both a finely produced coffee table-style book, which includes all the surroundings and trappings of party details, along with recipes and photography that she has been known for in all her years of being Martha. The photography is fabulous and crystal clear, the text straightforward, and the recipe instructions easy.
That being said, while this is a visually beautiful book to look at, and all the recipes from each gathering are given, this is not a detailed cooking or craft book, in that you're not given step-by-step instruction. The photography for the food, decorations, and how the events are staged is presented close up; you can almost taste the foods! But for more precise how-to's on these matters, she has other books (over 75 assorted subjects) to turn to for detailed instruction.
The book is a compilation of over 4 years of parties that she has given in her various homes and other venues, which were photographed in progress with the eager blessings of those invited. Events varied from small sit-down dinners and showers to large-scale affairs. The "themes" of each were planned with the different seasons in mind as well as for the various parts of the day, so to give ideas for mornings, afternoons, and evenings.
As an aside, her latest home in Maine, The Skylands (which was built by Edsel Ford) is breathtaking. Though there are not a multitude of photographs of the entire home, those that are shown, smack of the old-school pride in architecture and detail which homes built in the 1920's era were known for; the views and grounds are magnificent. In articles from her Martha Stewart Magazine and such, she spoke of finding this place and the intensive work she had put into restoring it back to its original splendor and grace; it is in those publications that more photos of the home are seen. None of her efforts were wasted as it truly has such elegant glamour. This is definitely a Martha home.
Approximately 80% of the book is devoted to the gatherings that were held, and the remaining 20% is the recipe section. While I mentioned that she did not go into great detail on everything, she does describe each event as much as possibly allowed; she had mentioned that originally, she had enough material for double the volume of pages that this book has (432 pages to be exact) but her publishers persuaded her otherwise.
Some might be wondering why I would know some of this minutia and it's because I went to her booksigning, where she spoke in length about the book. Yes, she lives in a different world than most of us, but she does know how to do things elegantly. And while most of us don't have her means to have such a generous lifestyle, we can still find our own ways of imitating Martha's style, as well our own art of preparing joyous gatherings for family and friends.
The book is divided into "Mornings", "Afternoons", and "Evenings" with appropriate menu's and ideas for grand affairs. Some examples of the recipes are popovers w/ some creamed spinach and eggs for breakfast or maybe some fluffy buttermilk pancakes. For lunch, some mini-BLT's or deviled eggs (with bunny shapes cut from carrots!) along with skewered chicken. Dinner could be simple like braised shortribs with green beans and mashed potatoes or maybe a savory potpie. And don't get me started on the desserts!
I feel that a few of her recipes might be updated from past times but they are tried and true; the majority of them are new. I also need to mention that I gladly found these recipes to be more common in that they don't require runs to the specialty shoppes in order to find the ingredients; they seem more accessible. The foods that I have tried has been absolutely delicious so I really do not think that you will be disappointed in any of the dishes that you will make.
Then to round off the parties, there are the settings and tablescapes that are just breathtaking, and her gardening sections and photography are beyond words. For instance, if you're having a tree cut down on your property, why not have the cutters slice you some thick wedges of it to use as a serving tray or platter? What an elegant way to present something special! Or taking that tree and having one of the branches horizontally cut into small place card holders; make a slit across the piece and it will hold a placecard with someones name on it. That was one idea that was simple but smart.
Nothing seems to have been spared in making this book such a beautiful reference book. I really feel that you will find this just right for yourself or for someone who appreciates a well-written book on parties and gatherings; the ideas are abundant and generous, and the price for this book here at Amazon is perfect (gotta get a plug in for them too).
Peace and joy in your gatherings during the coming holidays!!