Each book is usually under 250 pages and is a very quick read. The plot lines are never very complicated and the language is approachable. However, to merely say that they are 'simple' stories doesn't really do them justice. The story flows effortlessly, which takes a competent writer, and the situations/locations are well-researched and beautifully described. It's like eating a delicious meal - the skill of the cook is often belied by the simplicity of the menu.
Here's the first - a recipe for oatmeal cookies which reappear throughout several of the books:
Beth's Oatmeal Cookies (as seen in Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity series)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Makes approximately 6 dozen cookies.
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
2 jumbo eggs
5 tablespoons raisin water (see below)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins
2 cups water
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
In small saucepan, combine raisins with water and bring to boil;
lower heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
When cool, reserve 5 tablespoons raising water, then drain raisins in colander.
In large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and raisin water
and mix well. Blend dry ingredients into creamed mixture. Add nuts if desired.
Add raisins and combine well.
Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto greased baking sheets.
Bake 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown and firm on top when touched
with your finger. Cool on wire racks.
Last night's Aunt Dimity, (Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea), had some very menacing moments. Although it didn't help me go to sleep, I certainly appreciated Atherton keeping me on my toes and avoiding the pitfall of formulaic writing. Today I'll read the last of the ones I have - Aunt Dimity Goes West, and then Wednesday I'll check out another three. I'm very excited, but what's more exciting is that the newest Aunt Dimity comes out this month! On February 17th, Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree will be available! So, I don't feel too badly about reading them voraciously - as long as Nancy Atherton keeps writing!
For more information on the author or these wonderful books - visit her website here.