Tag Archives: Kate Taylor

Book Lover’s Ball 2011 – Part Two

1 Mar

I had a great feed-back to part one of my Book Lover’s Ball post; thanks to everyone for reading about the wonderful evening. I received quite a few questions by email, so in part two of my coverage, I will try to answer all of your questions, while sharing some more pictures and details of the evening.

Question #1:

What was served during the cocktail reception?

Answer:

Celebrity Chef, Marc Thuet orchestrated the luscious cocktail reception. Guests were treated to several different hors d’oeurves, including: savoury crepe with smoked salmon and creme fraiche, steak tartare on a potato gaufrette and an amuse-bouche risotto with wild mushroom and aged parmesan . Everything was delicious and looked gorgeous too.

Question #2:

What did you have for dinner?

Answer:

Dinner was created by the Royal York Hotel‘s executive chef David Garcelon. Our menu for the evening began with a twice-baked goat cheese souffle with wild and cultivated greens, cilantro chutney in an herb buttermilk dressing. Next, we were treated to some amazingly tender, melt-in-your-mouth roasted Alberta beef loin with maple sweet potato Charlotte and tart huckleberry jus. This was served along side olive oil glazed, roasted winter vegetables that were really lovely. For dessert, our sweet spots were tamed by espresso chocolate truffle almond dacquoise pine nut crunch with amaretto anglaise and tiramisu espresso crepe zabaglione mascarpone cream with espresso soaked lady fingers and dark sweet cherry compote. Garcelon managed to create a meal that was wonderful while eschewing typical banquet fare. It is also impressive to note that Garcelon, as Executive Chef at the prestigious Royal York Hotel, juggles 6 restaurants, massive banquets and room service. Complete with a walkie talkie, he oversees 12 sous chefs and in the course of a typical day, he walks 8 kms. Garcelon manages a budget of $30-million, and a staff of 200. He earned his first gig as an executive chef at the age of 28. At the Royal York, he’s also become an advocate for local produce – even keeping an herb garden and 10,000 bees on the roof so that the hotel can take advantage of fresh herbs. At 42, David Garcelon is a decade younger than most chefs in such a high-profile position.

Question #3:

How does a fashion show tie in with a book event?

Answer:

This is a question I was asked, not only by readers of Literal Life, but also by people I was talking with, in person, following The Book Lover’s Ball. The fashion show was a great way for guests to be entertained after dinner. Staged in six scenes, one book was paired with one or two fashion designers. The creations presented brought the designer’s feel for the story they were representing to life in a way that was appreciated by the audience. The books that were used for inspiration were: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert; Mystify by Artist Arthur; Midnight at the Dragon Cafe by Judy Fong Bates; Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda; 007 Carte Blanche : The New James Bond Novel by Jeffrey Deaver; and The Ice Princess by Camilla Läckberg. The fashions ranged from fun and playful to elegant and ethereal. In particular, the designs of Romona Kaveza, paired with Läckberg’s winter-y novel were stunning. Introducing the fashion show was Lisa Tant, editor-in-chief of Flare magazine. Designers showcasing their fashions included: Nadya Toto, Shan, 2 Second, Samuel Dong, Yves Jean Lacasse, and Hugo Boss.

Question #4:

Where are the pictures of you, Jennifer??

Answer:

Fair enough! Since I attended the event on a media pass, I was flying solo for the night. I didn’t want to appear like a total goofball by doing the classic “don’t mind me, I’m taking a picture of myself” manoeuver. You know the one: you shoot your hand way, way out, holding your camera, and stretching your arm as long as it will go then hope you are in the viewfinder and snap off a photo of yourself. Somehow, trying that while one is unaccompanied seems mucho el-lame-o. I was snapped, with two lovely ladies by another media photographer but as of yet I have not been able to track that picture down. I did do something oddly fun, in an attempt to capture one photo of me dressed up all girly-like. Hello Magazine had a “cover shoot” opportunity set-up for guests. I stood, gamely, for their photographer in front of a green screen. He was great about helping me pose and took a couple of different shots. Then, his assistant would do her computer magic and…voila! I was on the cover of the magazine. “Voila!” took about 15 minutes to process and be ready for pick-up and, in that time, I became distracted by all of the beautiful people, the happy bartenders and, oh yeah!!, talking with some of the best writers in Canada. By the time dinner began, the memory of my cover shoot was distant and, unfortunately, forgotten at the end of the night. So, note to self: next time, don’t be a doofus! Ask someone to take a picture of you with your own camera, would you??

Question #5:

Who else did you meet?

Answer:

Who else did I meet?? Well, I thought I had done very well showing you some of the great authors I had a chance to chat with but, apparently, you want more!! Heck, I don’t blame you, really. I was so thrilled with how open and gracious the writers I had a chance to speak with were with their time. I tried to be respectful and not take up too much of any one author’s time but, truth be told, there were several writers I was lucky enough to meet with whom I could have chatted for hours. Okay, so along with the terrific novelists I told you about in my previous blog posting, here are some great photos of additional authors (a singer and a CBC radio host too) I also had the chance to meet (even if just ever so briefly): Greg Levey, Gill Deacon, Cathy Marie Buchanan, Terry Fallis (standing with the CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi), Kate Taylor, Tish Cohen, James Bartleman, Betsy Powell and Matt Dusk (again with Jian Ghomeshi). Here they are:

Question #6:

Was there anyone you didn’t get to meet that you wish you could have?

Answer:

Absolutely!! I would have loved to have had the opportunity to meet Zoe Whittall and Micah Toub. I recently read Toub’s memoir Growing Up Jung and thought it would be cool to meet the man behind the interesting upbringing. Whittall has been a Toronto writer I have long admired. As well as being a gifted novelist and poet, Whittall has been a strong voice for furthering and promoting gay rights. That her day-job is with Quill & Quire magazine, makes me ever so slightly envious, I will admit.

So, clearly, the idea I am left with is this: I must ensure to be on the media list for next year so I can pester even more writers with my, with hope, less than inane questions.

Question #7:

How much did it cost for you to attend?

Answer:

Well, I was very fortunate to receive an invitation (as a member of the media) from Kirsti Stephenson, the Director of Special Events & PR, at The Mint Agency. Kirsti and her team were responsible for creating the PR strategy and promoting this event for the Toronto Public Library Foundation. If I factor in the haircut, manicure, pedicure and other necessities to get ready for The Ball, it came to a grand total of…none of your business!! :D It was for a good cause: the libraries of Toronto!

I can tell you that tickets to the 2011 event were $600 each. Yes, this is very pricey but if you are a book lover I would really urge you to start saving some money, today, for the 2012 Ball. It is such a tremendous opportunity to mingle with so many talented authors in such a posh setting. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be gorgeous for an evening while hanging with some of Canada’s finest literati! I will remind you again that money from the event goes to help Toronto’s public library system.

Question #8:

What the heck is the Toronto Public Library Foundation??

Answer:

From the library website: Toronto Public Library Foundation believes in the social benefits of a strong and healthy public library system. As a registered charity, we foster relationships with people of vision to enhance the impact Toronto’s Library can have on individual lives, above and beyond the core services that municipal funding provides.

Through its fundraising efforts, the Foundation provides enhanced support to the Library in three broad areas:

* Improved and expanded collections
* Enhanced programs and services
* Revitalized community spaces

[Toronto Public Library] believes that the character and quality of a city depends on the resources available to its people. We believe that a great library is a fundamental requirement for any city to achieve its full social and economic potential. Toronto’s Libraries are vital to the city, and vital to support.

For more information on the Toronto Public Library Foundation, you can visit their web site.

Question #9:

How many books do you read in a year, anyway?

Answer:

A lot! Oh, wait, is that not specific enough?? Okay, in 2010 I read 92 books. Some were for work, some were to share on this blog and some were just because I am a total bibliophile and can get a little twitchy if my TBR (to be read) pile gets too low. I will also admit a slight addiction to the web site, Bookshelf Porn. Check it out; you know you wanna!

So, this completes my coverage of The Book Lover’s Ball, 2011 edition. I hope you have enjoyed reading about this event. I have really loved sharing my experience with you!

Look for an upcoming post about Midnight at the Dragon Cafe by Judy Fong Bates.

A Man in Uniform by Kate Taylor

3 Aug

Released today, A Man in Uniform is, according to the description offered by the publisher, Doubleday Canada,:

“A seductive new novel from the author of the award-winning bestseller Mme Proust and the Kosher Kitchen.

At the height of the Belle Epoque, the bourgeois lawyer François Dubon lives a well-ordered life. He spends his days at his office, his evenings with his aristocratic wife — and his afternoons with his generous mistress. But this complacent existence is shattered when a mysterious widow pays him a call. She insists only Dubon can rescue her innocent friend, an army captain by the name of Dreyfus who has been convicted of spying. Against his better judgment, Dubon is drawn into a case that will forever alter his life.”

I read this novel quickly, over one weekend. I feel Taylor has created a compelling story using an historical event that divided the nation of France. The Dreyfus Affair began in 1894. Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an innocent Jewish Officer in the French Army, was convicted on false evidence, manufactured with military approval, for a crime of high treason. He was stripped of his rank, publicly degraded and deported to the penal colony of Devil’s Island to serve a sentence of life imprisonment, in total isolation, and under inhumane conditions. The fight to prove his innocence lasted 12 years.

The Dreyfus Affair caused a deep rift between intellectuals not only in French society, but in all of Europe and the United States. It unleashed racial violence and led to the publication of history’s most famous call for justice, J’accuse, addressed to the President of France by Emile Zola (in January 1898); Zola became, in the words of Anatole France, “the conscience of mankind”.

This event in France’s history involved not only political and military scandals but also murder, deceit, corruption and treachery. Using the documented truths of the Dreyfus Affair as the launching point for her second novel, Taylor becomes a master weaver, braiding the intricacies of historical fact with her own imagination and linear storytelling. Taylor also punches up an already bountiful chain of events through the introduction of femme fatales, seduction and villainy. Characters, both real and invented, co-mingle in her mostly solid novel.

I have had a hard time creating a review for this work because, while so many elements work ~ the plot, the historical context, the characters ~ I was very let down by the use of coincidence and convenience. Taylor is a gifted writer and a talented, award winning Canadian journalist. (She writes an Arts column for the Globe and Mail, was previously their Theatre critic and has been on staff with the paper since 1989). Through research, I discovered the initial manuscript for her new novel “went through three significantly different drafts that involved major plot changes… Draft number two had serious tweaking…Draft number three involved a major rewrite then a major set of cuts” before the manuscript was considered ready for publication. Learning these details made me wonder what elements were sacrificed from a story that could have achieved literary perfection in order to make the novel more broadly appealing?

The novel is very well-paced and enjoyable; I debated calling it a fun read; it definitely makes for a perfect “summer read”. While looking at other reviews for A Man in Uniform, the terms “a romp” and “rollicking” were encountered again and again. The novel definitely engages the reader and seems to have all of the components of a very good historical, literary mystery. For me, the novel is hard to categorize by genre. I have read many reviews that refer to the book as a ‘hardboiled mystery’, but to my understanding, these types of stories are distinguished by an unsentimental portrayal of crime, violence, and sex. I think there is a lot of emotion in Taylor’s novel, and her writing, so I am a bit dismissive of that particular classification. In the end, though, I don’t think this matters. My only issue, really, has to do with how “neat” the story was; how conveniently it climaxed and resolved. The novel is good so I am hopeful it will be embraced and enjoyed by readers. Kate Taylor is a great writer and the story is strong.

I recommend A Man in Uniform and rate it 3.5 our of 5.

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