Saturday, October 14, 2023

Weekend Cooking: Spring Clean for the Peach Queen by Sasha Wasley

This month my read on a theme bookclub theme was "books with a colour in the title", so I chose to read this book, and the added bonus is that the book is good for a Weekend Cooking post.

Charlize Beste is up and coming actress who would probably be about a C-list celebrity, but she has a particular knack of making it look like she is doing much better than she actually is. However, she moves to be more infamous than famous when she is pictured in a compromising position with a famous actor who then dies later that night. The situation is not helped when some artistic semi-nude photos are released in the aftermath.

Charlize's real name is Charlotte Benze, known as Lottie, and given the media attention that she is receiving Lottie decides that it is time to return to her home town of Bonnievale and make some changes in her life. Lottie is going to Marie Kondo her life, getting rid of her phone, all her acting paraphernalia, social media - everything. Unfortunately Lottie's feminist mother is disappointed in her and so the welcome home is less than warm. To be fair, Lottie often feels like she is a disappointment to her mother.

And so it is that Lottie finds herself staying in a run down caravan on the farm that belongs to Angus Brooker. It just so happens that Lottie is the reigning Peach Queen of the town, and Angus was her King. The contest hasn't been run for years though as the town has been going through a really hard time. Years before, the peach trees were infected with disease. For many farmers this meant ripping out all of their orchards, and replanting resistant trees or just walking away. Things are better now, but it has taken a long time for the town to recover.

Whilst on the farm, Lottie helps Angus' mum with her own de-cluttering projects and gradually Lottie learns about the Brooker's life, and also some of their secrets. It soon becomes clear that there is something not quite right with Mrs Brooker.  There are signs of forgetfulness, and Angus is worried that she is going to endanger herself by doing things like leaving the oven on, or leaving the house and getting lost. Angus is glad of the help with his mum, but otherwise he would not be best please with having Lottie around. He has been through a nasty divorce, and he now has a "policy" which basically means that he is avoiding any kind of romantic entanglements.

In the meantime, his well meaning but bossy Aunt Pris has decided that it is a perfect time to reinstate the Peach Queen contest and that Lottie is the perfect person to be the face of the contest, whether she likes it or not. After all, a little bit of scandal will be good for publicity, although publicity is exactly what Lottie is trying to avoid.

This was a really interesting story which covered a lot of subjects from celebrity to the plight of farmers, dementia, de-cluttering and starting over.  The characters were interesting to read about, and I liked the way that each of them were facing up to their issues, and how each of them were able to help the others move forward with whatever their current reality was. I also enjoyed the chemistry and banter between Angus and Lottie. For example, they had a fun game between themselves where they were hiding money that Lottie was trying to give Angus as rent and he was refusing to accept it!

Bonnievale  is based on the town of Donnybrook in the south of Western Australia. I have been there before as my cousin lives and works in the town. It is a town which is build around the fruit farms in the surrounding areas.

So what about food I hear you ask? Obviously there is lots of information about peach farming. Mrs Brooker is also a stereotypical farmer's wife in that she is a fabulous cook. Lottie really isn't,  but soon she is learning all about things like making jam, scones, plum cake and so many more different delicious sounding foods.

I thought I would share a passage from the book because it entertained me

Mrs Brooker and I spent the morning making chutney from some unripe nectarines Angus had brought down.

"Chupney, I called it for many years," she confessed when the diced onions were frying in a pot.

"Chupney?" I couldn't help laughing.

She smiled. "Nobody corrected me for ever such a long time. My mother taught me how to make it and I'm still not sure if she simply never noticed I was saying it wrong, or if she thought it was funny and let me be. I was still saying it as an adult, you know. I would make it with my mother-in-law She never said a word about my pronunciation either. It was Pris who broke it to me, in the end."

"Why doesn't that surprise me?

Mrs Brooker tinkled a laugh. "I was writing up the labels and she looked at me and said, "What one earth have you done? You've spelled chutney wrong!" I was confused until she told me in no uncertain terms it was a t, not a p. I didn't believe her at first, but I took a stealthy look at my old CWA cookkbook and my heart sank when I realised she was right. What a blessed fool I must have made of myself for all those years, down at a school fete or in the Progress Association meetings. Why did no one ever tell me?" She shook her head.

Have you got a story about when you have mispronounced something like this?

We are on holidays for the next three weeks so expect some "What We Ate on Holidays" posts coming up!

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta Bake
Sunday -  Out for dinner
Monday - Chicken Shwarma
Tuesday - 
Wednesday - Mexican Chicken and Rice
Thursday - Beef Teriyaki Bowls
Friday - Sausages, mash and broccoli

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. You always read the most interesting books! Now with utilities in place on our property I hope to be getting back to some of my favorite hobbies, including reading. Although I might start with audio books, by the end of night, my eyes are the way no linky, did I miss something?

  2. Not only was there a color in the title the cover is so colorful too. Sounds like an interesting book. I find that I used to read before bed, but now I am out cold before I finish a page ! Haven't been reading much. I tried to join Weekend Cooking, but I couldn't find the linky?



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