“There’s only one defining juncture that, depending on which path you take, will determine the rest of your life.” – Sandie Jones, The Guilt Trip
The Guilt Trip is the story of friends and the secrets kept between them. Rachel and Noah met at university and have been friends ever since. Twenty years later, they are now married to other people. While the two once thought they may have ended up together, life proved differently. Rachel is now married to Jack and the two have a son. Noah is married to Paige and those two have a daughter. Jack’s brother Will is engaged to marry Ali, a younger impulsive, gorgeous woman. They are to be married in Portugal. All six friends are heading to Portugal for the two’s impending destination wedding weekend.
As each couple arrives in Portugal, they bring secrets. They may be staying at a gorgeous villa atop a cliff, but darkness has settled into their relationships. Rachel wants to get to know her future sister-in-law Ali better, but Ali seems to only want to get to know Jack better. She is constantly seeking his attention and trying to have alone time with him. The longer they are together, the more Ali begins to grate on everyone’s nerves. Paige, Rachel’s best friend, thinks Ali is becoming increasingly childish and attention-seeking. Jack is also not fond of Ali. He tenses up whenever she is around. Jack is also consistently finding more to argue with Noah, Paige’s husband and Rachel’s friend, about.
Everything tilts wrong when Rachel finds out a shocking secret about Ali. The longer the wedding weekend progresses, the more secrets begin to leak from each of them. Each secret has the power to weaken and possibly destroy a different relationship. What started out as a joyous happy weekend could prove to be deadly for those involved instead.
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My Lisbon: A Cookbook from Portugal’s City of Light by Nuno Mendes is an example of cookbook as travelogue. It’s a joy to peruse. Mendes is an engaging writer; his prose captures the mood and spirit of Lisbon. Interspersed with recipes are his vignettes of life in Portugal – Lisbon in particular. Not only is the text authentic and breezy, but the photos are so spontaneous – you feel as if you’ve glimpsed private moments in the public spaces of this urban, yet warm and relaxed city. The oldest part of Lisbon, Alfama, is particularly intimate – the streets are so narrow and there is often virtually no space between the public street and a family’s private living area beyond a thin wall or window. Laundry is literally aired in public; just look above you!
Whenever I visit a new city or country, I have so many questions. Why do they do this? What’s the history of that? This book is ideal for solving these mysteries. After a recent visit to Lisbon, I wanted to know more about why lisboetas decorate the facades of their houses and restaurants with Christmas decorations – in April. It has to do with the festival of Santo Antonio in which sardinhas (sardines) are enthusiastically celebrated – cooked, eaten and enjoyed in the streets and restaurants.
I wanted to know the story behind the elegantly shabby azulejo (tile) on its buildings. As a native, Mendes speaks with authority and experience about the smells, tastes and sounds of a city that has been dependent on the sea for hundreds of years. Mendes is also a restaurateur so he provides fascinating detail about the stories behind local ingredients and specialties (salt, sardines, ham, and custard and more). Many times these stories relate to Portugal’s glory days in the 15th and 16th centuries when its navigators ruled the oceans and claimed vast portions of the globe for their country.
I’ve devoured many guidebooks, dvds, and travelogues about Portugal, but, to me, this book truly captures what’s special about this magical city.