28 Oct Blessed Are the Cheesemakers
by Sarah-Kate Lynch
Pour yourself a glass of tawny port and plate a wedge of your favorite blue cheese, and settle in to enjoy a sumptuous, magical novel about the many shades of love — and the delicious sensory experience — involved in making world-renowned cheese.
In her first published novel, Sarah-Kate Lynch proves from the start that she is a food sensualist. Her first chapter starts out with the respectful personification of a catalytic character in the story — the cheese:
“The Princess Grace Memorial Blue sat on the table in front of Abbey, screaming to be eaten…Abbey, as always, was smiling her dreamy smile, her eyes half closed and her head slightly thrown back, as though she were preparing to blow out a candle and make a wish. Well, it was her twenty-ninth birthday, after all, and there would have been candles, too, had not the Princess Grace been a particularly fussy cheese, inclined to expel a pungent foul-smelling aroma if fiddled with in any fashion. Actually, this pernicketiness was what made her so special. She was made with fresh Coolarney milk hand-expressed at daybreak every April 19 and she was treated like royalty from the first tweak of the first teat to the last crumb on the last tongue. She insisted on it. She was that sort of a cheese” (p.1).
The main setting of this fantastical book is County Cork , Ireland , where the soft-hearted Joseph Corrigan (Corrie) and cranky Joseph Feehan (Fee) are two aging cheesemakers who rely on the magic of singing vegetarian milkmaids — who hark along to Roger & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music — to induce happy cows to provide the milk for their celebrated cheeses. They are long on humor and affection for each other, but woefully short on heirs to take over their beloved cheese making business.
At its core, Blessed Are the Cheesemakers is a love story between two flawed individuals who have the requisite obstacles to overcome before they can live happily ever after: Kit is a fast track Wall Street stockbroker who has suffered personal tragedy, and subsequently becomes self-destructive, losing his job and his high-rise loft in the same day. Abbey is a rudderless ship, falling prey to the abusive relationships that have become such a normal way of life, she doesn’t even recognize the blatant signs of infidelity when they stare her in the face. Both individuals must climb their way out of personal tragedy, becoming healthy and whole, before they can truly commit to each other.
Life’s magical series of events bring Kit and Abbey together to face the challenge of succeeding Corrie and Fee in this delicious fantasy: the alchemy of creating the perfect cheese.
Sarah-Kate Lynch recognizes that with relationships — as with cheese — it takes time and a little magic to produce something meaningful. With the delightfully quirky characters (including three cats named Jesus, Mary, and All The Saints), Ms. Lynch weaves a tale that comes together as magically as curds congeal into a wheel of cheese, and reminds us that life has its little bits of magic scattered throughout.
Also written by Sarah-Kate Lynch:
By Bread Alone
Review by Genny Decker
Genny is a passionate food hobbyist who shares her home and life — and sometimes even her cheese — with husband Lance and cat Ali. Entertaining and candy making are at the top of her recreation list, but she also savors reading (including the occasional non-food book).