{Book Club Guide} A Soiree Fit for Monet

Make your next book club meeting a masterpiece with these art-themed books, snacks and ideas.

READ one of these very discuss-able books:

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin. Martin, a longtime art collector, exposes the beautiful and the seamy side of Manhattan’s art world. Part art-history primer and part satire, An Object of Beauty follows protagonist Lucy Yeager, a recent art grad, as she claws her way to the to the top of the gallery business by any means necessary–lying, cheating and sleeping with patrons are all fair game.

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. There are just 35 known paintings by Johannes Vermeer. Vreeland imagines the existence of number 36, and traces it through time as it’s passed from owner to owner. From a Nazi who stole it from a Jewish family to a bohemian student–all the way back to Vermeer’s own daughter, Magdalena, each owner falls in love with the painting in a unique and revealing way.

Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art by Phoebe Hoban. A page-turning look at the life of this brilliant young artist who died tragically at just 28 years old. It’s also a critique of the art world, which Hoban suggests is partly to blame for Basquiat’s death.

Diane Arbus: A Biography by Patricia Bosworth. In the 1950s, Diane Arbus was a dutiful housewife to her photographer husband. By the time she committed suicide in 1971, her marriage was over and she was famous as a “photographer of freaks.” Arbus was a brilliant mind and an example of the drastic changes that occurred for women between 1950 and 1971.

The “Cubist” cocktail

{click here for the recipe!}

The “Cubist” cocktail
Recipe by Cheryl R. Heisler


* 2 oz. Van Gogh Classic 80-proof Vodka*
* 3 assorted frozen fruit juice “cubes” in bright colors. Consider: orange, pomegranate, purple grape, kiwi, cranberry, blueberry etc. (frozen “cubes” of fresh fruit would also work but are more time intensive to prepare)
* Individual round fruits or fruit balls for garnish.

Advance preparation:
Fill several ice cube trays with your fruit juices of choice at least 24 hours in advance.

Day of:
Crack the cubes out of the trays and assemble a mix of assorted color cubes in the bottom of a chilled martini glass.
Top with chilled Van Gogh Vodka.
Garnish with a child’s paintbrush, skewered with grapes or melon balls.

*A non-alcoholic version of this drink could be made by simply replacing the vodka with 7-Up or Ginger Ale.

‘Party in a Box’ cheese quad
from FOF-owned cheese shop, Cowgirl Creamery served on an Artist Palette Cheese Tray from Fishs Eddy. (Plus, ENTER TO WIN it here.)

Invite a art history professor from a local college to give your book club members new insight on the artists, styles of art and works mentioned in the art-themed books you have read.

Name that artist – Prepare a slideshow with images of the works mentioned in the books you’ve read. The book club member who can “Name That Artist” wins.

Artist-artwork matching game– Before the party, prepare post-its with artists and their most famous artwork. For example: one post it could say Van Gogh, another could say Starry Night. You can even use art-artwork pairs from the books you have read. Put a post-it on each guest’s back (without them seeing what it says!) The goal is for each guest find their match, by asking the other guests questions about their identity. The first guests to find their match win.


{Book Club Guide} French Fiction Fete

If you can’t book a trip to France, you can bring France to your book club. Impress your friends with these 6 tres bon tools for hosting the perfect Parisian Book Party.

1. My Life in France by Julia Child. The captivating story of Julia Child’s years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found her true calling.

2. Eiffel’s Tower:  And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count by Jill Jonnes.  The story of the world-famous monument and the extraordinary world’s fair that introduced it. “Despite their eccentricities, I found all of the characters in the book to be endearing,” says FOF Adrienne Whyte. “When I got to the end of the book I actually cried. I felt I had become friends with them.”

3. Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull. A delightful, fresh twist on the travel memoir, Almost French takes us on a tour that is fraught with culture clashes but rife with deadpan humor.

4. 2009 Domaine Renaud Mâcon-Charnay. “This wine is from France’s Burgundy region. It’s a White Burgundy, essentially what we would call Chardonnay in the States. It’s weighty and rich, with flavors of green apple, lemon or pear like a Chardonnay, but more crisp and refreshing, with mineraly notes,” says FOF Jill Silverman Hough author of “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love.” It’s great with ham and brie baguettes, because the wine stands up to and cuts the richness of the cheese, readying your mouth for the next bite.”

5. Ham and Brie Baguettes. “On the streets of Paris, vendors sell ham and Brie sandwiches like they sell hot dogs on the streets of New York. This version is jazzed up a bit with arugula and a mustard-mayo dressing, but even still, it evokes a French picnic,” says FOF Jill Silverman Hough author of “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love. “It’s also perfect for entertaining — you can make it in advance, cut it into appetizer-sized pieces and serve it at room temperature. Bon appétit!”

[click for recipe]

Ham and Brie Baguettes

From  “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love” by Jill Silverman Hough (Wiley, 2010)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 baguette
8 ounces thinly sliced ham
4 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 1/4-inch slices
4 cups loosely packed arugula (about 2 ounces)

1. In a small bowl, combine the mustard and mayonnaise. Set aside. (You can prepare the dressing up to 3 days in advance, storing it covered in the refrigerator.)

2. Trim the ends off the baguette. Cut crosswise into 4 lengths. Split each length horizontally, so it’ll open like a book. Gently fold each piece open.

3. Spread the mustard mixture on the bread, dividing it evenly. Arrange the ham, cheese, and arugula on top, dividing them evenly. (You can prepare the sandwiches up to 4 hours in advance, storing them covered in the refrigerator.

4. Press the bread tops down lightly, cut each sandwich in thirds, and serve.

Copyright Jill Silverman Hough. All rights reserved.

6. Parisian-inspired playlist

More Camille music on iLike

Plus! A few months ago, FOFs got a chance to chat with Eiffel’s Tower author Jill Jonnes at FabOverFifty’s own French-inspired book club meeting. Eiffel’s Tower chronicles the construction of the iconic tower and it’s introduction at the 1889 World’s Fair in Belle Epoque Paris. Watch the video below.