Book Thirty-Two: The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

Lost Art of Keeping Secrets

I’m a little late posting this one, as actually finished the book last week! The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets is a random book that I happened upon in my local library. I’d never heard of Eva Rice or the book, but it looked fun so I gave it a go!

Penelope is a sweet girl, with little happening in her life until the day she meets the glamorous and enchanting Charlotte, while waiting for the bus. Charlotte whisks her up into a world she is not familiar with – full of parties, society girls and dinners at the Ritz – and the two soon become best friends. Penelope lives with her family – her beautiful, but heart broken mother and her charming rascal of a younger brother, Inigo, in a crumbling mansion called Milton Magna. Milton Magna is impressive and notorious amongst London society, but is falling down and the family are broke. While Inigo dreams of becoming the next Elvis Presley to save their home, Penelope dreams of marrying popstar Johnnie Ray. But while she is daydreaming, she gets involved in a scheme masterminded by Charlotte’s sardonic cousin Harry to win back his love. I’ll give you three guesses what happens next…

I really enjoyed this book – it is very frivolous and fun, so it doesn’t matter that it’s a little bit predictable or short on plot. It’s a bit like the book equivalent to a hot chocolate – tasty and indulgent. The characters are all lots of fun, as is the whole vision of post-war London in the 1950’s. The book reminded me quite a lot of I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith – and not just because it’s mentioned in the blurb(!) but because it has the same lightness and sense of fun. I’d definitely recommend it – not as a book that will change your world, but a fun foray into a world where everything is simple, sweetness and light. Good for a holiday or a train ride, or any time you want to escape real life and be amused for a few hours!

It was surprisingly easy to find a recipe to match this book, for Charlotte and her Aunt Clare frequently take afternoon tea, including something which sounded right up my street – ginger scones!

Ginger Buttermilk Scones (recipe courtesy of BBC GoodFood)

Ingredients:

  • 450g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled, diced
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 250ml buttermilk
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 220C. Sieve the flour, ginger and a pinch of salt into large mixing bowl. Add the diced butter and cut into the mixture using a rounded knife and then use your hands to form a breadcrumb like mix. Add the sugar and mix.

2. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add the buttermilk. Using the same knife, mix the mixture until it is well combined and forms a dough.

3. Lightly dust a surface with flour and then tip the mixture out and knead for around 30 seconds. Roll out onto the surface until 2cm thick and then either cut into squares or use a cookie cutter to cut out the scones.

4. Place on a baking tray and then coat with the egg white mixture, then sprinkle some granulated sugar on top and then bake for about 10-12 mins.

Easy peasy! These scones were delicious, although I don’t really think the ginger comes through so if you want them gingery then I recommend adding more or even adding in some chunks of crystalised ginger. Although they taste pretty good without, especially when you add raspberry jam…

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