Evelyn Lau’s book Other Women is a difficult book to recommend whole-heartedly. Alternating between first and third person, it tells the story of an artist, Fiona, who is recovering from a 15-month affair with successful businessman, Raymond- twenty years her senior and married.
The problem with the book isn’t the story (what little story there is)- anyone who has ever had an obsessive relationship with the wrong person will certainly relate. The problem isn’t the prose- Lau can certainly write, although I would have to say that this story is over-written- nothing is stated simply, there’s a metaphor for every emotion. For me the problem is the characters. Raymond isn’t at all likeable; he comes across as narcissistic (and in fact Fiona actually says this of him) and although he once cautions Fiona that she mustn’t let him hurt her- he yanks her along a romantic trail of self-destruction and worse, Fiona isn’t the only affair he’s ever had. Fiona isn’t much more sympathetic. The whole novel is spent lamenting Raymond’s loss. Fiona drinks and compares every other man to Raymond- and all this for a relationship that is never even consummated.
Still, it was hard not to be swept along by Lau’s poetic prose- even though I could have cared less about the characters and their rather soggy affair.
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COFFEE CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE KISSES
For this recipe you will need a pastry bag and a 1/2-inch plain tip.
9 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
*available at many supermarkets
Break chocolate into small pieces. In a food processor pulse together chocolate and butter until chocolate is finely chopped. In a small saucepan whisk together cream, espresso powder, and salt and bring just to a boil. Pour hot cream mixture over chocolate mixture and pulse until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Let mixture stand at cool room temperature until just firm enough to pipe, about 2 hours.
Oil a large baking sheet and line with parchment paper.
Transfer chocolate mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe mixture onto baking sheet to form 1- by 1-inch cones, or “kisses.” Chill kisses, uncovered, until firm, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.
Into a small bowl sift cocoa powder. Working with 1 kiss at a time, roll in cocoa powder to coat. Kisses keep, in one layer in an airtight container at cool room temperature or chilled, 2 weeks.
Makes about 64 kisses.