A Year by the Sea Novel Gathering

This story about self-discovery is an interesting one to host a book club party for.  The setting, premise and interesting characters enables us at The Boutique to offer a few different ideas for you the hostess.


Gather near a body of water if possible.  Do you live by a lake?  Does your park have a water feature or pond?  Pool?  If you choose any of these, have each guest bring a quilt or cozy blanket to sit on.  Pack your food (ideas for food below) in varying sized picnic baskets and several thermoses' with tea, coffee and what ever else you think your guests may enjoy.  Many parks also have picnic areas so you could sit on the picnic tables to eat.  Cover the tables in blue and white for a cottage feel.  Fill mason jars, glass vases or even beach pails with shells, sand and battery operated candles for centerpieces.  OR if you want, decorate and celebrate Memorial Day just like Joan and her family did (page 136-148) (image to left from There are many patriotic ideas on the Internet. Have a portable CD player equipped with Vivaldi or a 'waves' cd.  You have created a serene environment to discuss this book.  Click here for our Q & A for a Year by The Sea.  If hosting at your home, include as many blue and white throws, pillows, quilts as you have to create a cottage atmosphere.  Do you have any kerosene lamps for camping?  Bring them out.  Even any nautical or beach decorations would be good; blow up floatation chairs or mattresses.  Take pieces of driftwood that you have inside.  Create an area with shells, sand, driftwood weathered glass etc.  Remember when Joan comes home from clamming cold and achy (page 134)?  Set out some tiger balm and empty wine bottles in an area with empty shells.  Keep the flowers simple, grasses and maybe some hosta leaves. One last touch; give each guest a small journal and a pen when they arrive.





Clams. seafood, bouillabaisse (page 138),
A pasta sauce out of several cans of tomato paste, tarragon and cream (page 147)  
Salads of greens, avocados, grapefruit and raspberry vinaigrette.  
Simple cheese platter.  
Blueberry pancakes full of bran and whole wheat flour (page 119)
When feeding the film crew for her nephew she prepares tacos with beans and rice, pizza, veggie lasagna and a bouillabaisse again.
Remember after her film crew job is over and she is exhausted, she opens a can of that keeps it simple. (page 123)
How about when Joan goes to her island for a night, she packs bbq chicken, raw veggies, bread, cheese and of course wine. (page 167)
If you want to serve only one drink, consider offering Port, the drink of choice for her friend Joan E. (page 101) Pair this with any cream style cheese, nuts and maybe some dark chocolate.
Finally, when her husband comes to the Cape, they have fried clams and oysters on the half shell with champagne.
Regardless of what you prepare, Joan always had some cheap wine to go with it.  Enjoy!

The Boutique cocktail choices,

anything with CLAM - ATO juice

Dark and Stormy

2 oz Gosling's Black Seal rum
3 oz Barrit's Ginger Beer
lime juice and lime wedge for garnish.  Build all ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice. (first seen at Elixir Lounge in Chicago)

Cape Codder                      

1 1/2 oz vodka
4 oz cranberry juice
Combine in a highball glass with ice.  Garnish with a wedge of lime, and serve.

Because we leave nothing unfinished at The Boutique here are some seasonal adaptations.

Joan began her journey in the fall, try to host it then.

If your club meets during the winter months have a roaring fire going with mugs of hot chocolate ready to greet your guests.

Spring time would be great to get together.  Go with the Memorial Day theme or even just outdoors.

Summer is such an ideal time to bring this book alive.  Lake, beach, park or pool; all excellent and relevant choices.

**Note our page numbers correspond with trade paperback edition published in 2000.

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