Customer Reviews: Martha's Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations
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on November 21, 2011
I bought this book sight unseen through the internet. I have been a fan of Ms. Stewart's for many years, although I am not familiar with her first entertaining book written many moons ago. I wish I had taken a glance at this book in person before buying it. The book seems like it has much more style than it does substance, as the pages are filled with beautiful, lush photos of her many homes and gathering places yet it isn't heavy on instruction for entertaining. At first look it also comes across as a bit of a marketing pitch for her many products. I give it three stars: it is indeed a beautiful book, but I am disappointed with its contents.
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VINE VOICEon November 13, 2011
Pure Martha!

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!!
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on October 26, 2011
Love every bit of this book had to offer. I am an avid subscriber of her Living magazine and follower of her blog but I still find this book extremely entertaining. It inspires anyone to grasp the concept of "entertaining" through the beautiful coffeetable type photos and well described pages. It does not even attempt to dictate the reader that the only place possible to lavishly celebrate life is to live in Maine. It teaches us to embrace the beauty of what you have, where you live and add a bit more passion to it. I would definitely consider this as a perfect gift to guests during the holidays.
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VINE VOICEon December 4, 2011
Back in the early 80's I was gifted with Martha's original "Entertaining" book and termed it 'my bible' when it came to recipes and how to's when hosting events for friends and family. It was impossible for me to ignore the new Entertaining book when I first heard about it but, in all sincerity, it is NOTHING like its predecessor.

The new book is gorgeous to look at but it's a page thru book not at all with the recipes or techniques within the pages of the first one. I hunted for a variety of recipes when hosting a dinner last week and ended up completely out of luck for anything useful or tempting in the back-of-the-book recipes Martha offered this time. Many are unusual but they aren't of the variety where the average hostess would take advantage of them. These are if you are entertaining a multitude of guests and need fancy, unreal items that would be purchased obviously somewhere on the east coast close to Martha but definitely not anything at my local grocery store. Some of the ideas are unique but the practical applications are as far fetched as thinking Martha does all her own slicing & dicing.

I'll go back to my original Entertaining and use the new one if I get bored. I'm grateful that I could purchase the new book on Amazon and not have to pay the exorbitant price suggested inside the front cover - $75. This new book is not worth $75 whereas the old one is well worth its original $35.
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on November 25, 2011
I've always been captivated by Martha Stewart's ingnuity at creating beautiful tables and original dishes. This book was extremely expensive. I was looking forward to it because I have the original book fromm decades ago. I was quite disappointed. There is nothing really original about it, except maybe its size. It is quite thick and heavy. I didn't find anything that I could, or really would use. It's a very pretty coffee table book. If you are the type of entertainer that likes do-able things, this is not for you. I was not impressed by the substance, but certainly by the size and cost. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.
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on January 2, 2012
This is a large, beautiful, sumptuous book by America's diva of domesticity and entertaining. It may not be her best ever, but is certainly her finest in recent years. Filled with wonderful photographs covering a wide range of events, it offers a glimpse into Martha's personal life, her various and extraordinary homes and her entertainment style. The houses and settings are gorgeous and at 70, Martha herself, has never looked so good.

Some reviewers have complained that the book lacks substance, seeming to have wanted more recipes and less decor and ambiance. But rather than just a cook book, this is all about ambiance and mood. For myself, I could have done without some of the breakfast recipes (not much new here) and the numerous doughy delights. A little more on each venue would have been welcomed, as well as more innovative and grander recipes. But make no mistake, there are some great recipes and menus here - the appetizers, main courses, desserts and even cocktails. All in all, this book is a great addition to any coffee table and I am sure will be cherished by Martha fans for many years to come.
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on October 27, 2011
I'm a subscriber of Martha Stewart Living magazine and Everyday Food magazines. I have just about every book that has been published to date and have never been disappointed so far. This book is incredible. Some of the ideas may not be for everyone, but it's nice to dream that you can do it. Strongly recommend!
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on November 14, 2011
Martha's new book doesn't hold a candle to the original....something I can say for most of her work over the past several years. Not only is the quality of the book not up to snuff of the original - print quality, paper, images, but, many of the features reminded me immediately of Carolyne Roehme's book "At Home With Carolyne Roehme". Hmmmmm. Peonies, boats, 4th of July - need I say more? I was disappointed to see so many of Martha's bargain items like cake pedestals piled on top of one another. I thought that looked cheesy. In my opinion, what makes great inspiration is the use of the vintage items so abundantly spun through her original book. All I can say is this book follows the trend of using more inexpensive, less interesting props and decorating items and reflects the "made in China" style permeating the retail scene today. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised or expected more of today's Martha who so clearly has gone mass market in every way, but all in all, gone is the true sense of great taste that still existed in the 80s. I'm just glad I didn't pay full price for the book.
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on April 29, 2015
Martha- I have no feelings toward Martha one way or another- I enjoy some of her shows, especially the holiday ones to me they're like comfort food. It isn't a Julia child step by step guide on cooking she won't teach you how to cook and entertain in this book in any form of depth. It is just a collection of things you can get on google except all together in one beautiful book with amazing photography and a few recipes... I had no delusions about what I'd be getting and I think it is best to focus on the work than the person!
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on June 10, 2016
I saw this book in a bookstore just after it was published. I leafed through it & then saw the price ($75!). That was too rich for my pocketbook, too rich even as a Christmas or birthday gift. I was given the original Entertaining book when it was first published back in the 80's & immediately fell in love with all things Martha. I have subscribed to her magazine since its launch. I own most of her books. I was in serious withdrawl when her television show went off the air. I had a better opportunity to actually read through the new Entertaining book when I borrowed it from the library. It is truly a sumptuous volume. The only other book I can compare it to is one about Valentino, which was also in my library. With at least 4 homes & a yacht to his credit he outdoes even Martha. That said, I enjoyed Martha's Entertaining so much when I actually read it that I bought a copy for myself. Thanks to Amazon's Used Books section I was able to snap up a copy in very good condition for under $15!! I may not be able to replicate her lifestyle, but I found many interesting ideas for doing things in new ways when it comes to entertaining. The storylines & photos are what one would expect from Martha & Co. - seemingly effortless & spectacularly tasteful. I would dearly love to go through her cupboards! The text is well written & the recipes, while not abundant are elegant and doable. While I would never have spent full price to have this book, I am very happy to have my own copy. Well done Martha & very well done Amazon!
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