Review and an Author's Recipe

My thanks to Mary Alice Monroe for providing me with a recipe to accompany this book review; and for giving me the inside scoop that her new novel Beach House Memories will be published in May! Scroll to the bottom of the post for more photos.

Review: The Butterfly's Daughter
by Mary Alice Monroe
From ancient Greek and Aztec myths to Christian and pagan beliefs, the butterfly has been an enduring symbol of transition, resurrection, the passage of time, and the soul. Anyone who has ever seen a migration of butterflies, with hundreds of them in flight, has felt that sense of awe and an appreciation of the journey they are undertaking.
The Butterfly's Daughter uses those very themes and even a journey to illustrate a story of love, loss, and family.
When Luz Avila's grandmother is inspired to buy an old VW bug, Luz wonders if the older woman has lost her mind.
Things seem even more out of kilter when her grandmother insists that the two of them must journey to Mexico, following the path of the migrating monarch butterflies, and that they must arrive by Nov. 1, the Day of the Dead. Luz refuses to give in to what she considers a crazy scheme, but after her grandmother's death Luz's guilt forces her to take the trip so she can spread her grandmother's ashes at the very place where generations of Avila women, and the butterflies, have gathered in the Mexican sun. Luz is also compelled by the thought that her mother Mariposa, who the family believed died years ago, might be alive.
Along the way, Luz is joined by other women who have their own journeys to make, both emotionally and physically. Each of them is in search of a transformation of sorts, and each stop on their trip offers its own hidden lessons.
Mary Alice Monroe's work is often described as environmental fiction, but I think that almost does it a disservice. The Butterfly's Daughter is about the migration of monarchs, yes, but the true heart of the book is an examination of the spirit that ties us all, whether through friendship or family. (2011 - Gallery Books)

Author Recipe: Refritos
from Mary Alice Monroe
In a first for Read.Eat.Think., I asked the author of today's featured book to send me one of her favorite recipes, one that would fit The Butterfly's Daughter. I was so pleased that Mary Alice Monroe agreed, and sent me a recipe that she makes often for her family, friends, and her own book club in South Carolina. My test kitchen (aka my mom) reports that this is particularly delicious served in tortillas. Can't wait to make it myself!
Mary Alice Monroe
2 cups raw pinto beans
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup minced green pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon coriander (optional)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Cook beans (over-cooking is desirable). Reduce liquid. Mash beans with a potato masher. Heat oil in skillet. Add onions, garlic, and peppers and cook till translucent. Add cumin, salt, and pepper at the beginning of cooking. Add mashed beans to veggies and seasoning, and mix well. If too soupy, may be reduced over low heat at this point. Serve hot. Feeds 4-6 people.
Mary Alice Monroe releasing a butterfly in her yard.

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