Reviewing and Chewing: The Real Joys of Book Clubs

The moment I heard that the Ashford Court Readers Group in Strongsville, Ohio was not only going to discuss Happiness Key, they were going to make food appropriate to my novel to enjoy together, I wanted to jump on a plane and join them.  This is my kind of book club.  Food and books.  Can anything beat this combination?

The Ladies of Ashford Court.jpgInstead I had the privilege of doing a phone interview, a raucous affair with all of us talking at once and lots of laughter in between.  I’ll confess I missed not sharing the Key lime pie and the Indian rice, too, but the camaraderie?  Priceless.

Book clubs have undergone a transformation.  Once a local “literary” event we dressed carefully for and only attended after preparation with Cliff Notes and author biographies, now book clubs are social gatherings of neighbors or old friends, who gather together to enjoy an evening out, eat, laugh and yes, talk at least briefly about the book of the month. Like reading itself, gathering to talk about books should be a prime opportunity to escape and enjoy.

So, many thanks to the ladies of Ashford Court for a chance to enjoy their company if not their food.  And the latter?  Well, that reminded me of fabulous–and fabulously easy–brownies I had as a guest of the Cypress Point book club, here in Virginia.  If you’re hosting your own gathering, you might want to try these.  You won’t be sorry.

And if your book club is discussing one of my novels, don’t forget that like Ashford Court, you can invite me to participate by speaker phone.  Maybe I’ll make a batch of these brownies to keep in my freezer for just such a moment.  

Symphony Brownies 

  • 1 approx. 20 oz packaged fudge brownie mix (preferably with chocolate syrup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 7 oz Hershey’s milk chocolate Symphony bars


  • Preheat oven to temperature on your brownie mix box
  • Lightly grease an 11″ by 7″ baking pan–bottom only
  • Prepare brownie mix according to directions using eggs, water and oil
  • Stir just until mixed
  • Pour half the batter into prepared pan
  • Put unwrapped (duh) candy bars on top–Emilie breaks her for better coverage
  • Top with remaining batter
  • Bake 40″ or until toothpick inserted in center is only “slightly” gooey
  • Cool before cutting

Enjoy!  Eat one for me.  Who knows, maybe I’ll join you.

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