*If you are new here, WELCOME! For In Farleigh Field, I provide your book club with a brief summary, a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!
In Farleigh Field has been floating around as a potential read for me for quite a while. I’ll tell you why.
Did you know that Amazon has it’s own publishing house now? That’s right. Just like Penguin, Random House, and the others. It’s called Lake Union and it’s been putting out some hits.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s fine. Readers are meant to enjoy books and not know how the sausage is made, so to speak. However, as someone who likes to keep abreast of the industry, I’ve been wanting to read a book that Lake Union has produced. So, I chose In Farleigh Field.
I chose In Farleigh Field quite randomly. I had just read other books similar to Beneath a Scarlet Sky and The Tuscan Child, which also both deal with World War II, so I decided on In Farleigh Field. Although, I have recently bought Beneath a Scarlet Sky, so I may be featuring that in the future as well.
That said, In Farleigh Field was a fun and fast read. It definitely leans towards a cozy mystery with romantic elements. There wasn’t a lot of character growth or internal turmoil, which are usually in my picks. However, I did enjoy it and learned a few things about the British spy network during the war.
It would be a good read for any book club that likes light reads featuring mystery and romance. You can trust me or the 5,500 + other 4-5 star reviews on Amazon. In any event, there is plenty to discuss about In Farleigh Field and who doesn’t love a WWII novel? On that note, I’ve provided book club questions and a delicious recipe for In Farleigh Field, so if you are looking for food ideas and more, keep reading!
Here’s a brief summary of In Farleigh Field:
When a WWII soldier falls to his death on the Farleigh estate after his parachute fails to deploy, the nearby community is abuzz with gossip, especially when details emerge that identify him as a possible German spy. Ben Cresswell, a family friend to Lord Westerham and his daughters who inhabit Farleigh Place, is tasked by MI5 with investigating. Lord Westerham’s daughter, Pamela, is working on secret government assignments, too. When Ben and Pamela both find themselves back home on covert assignments, old emotions flare. But Pamela’s heart belongs to Ben’s best friend, Jeremy, who’s just returned home as well—after escaping a German prison camp. As their paths cross in more ways than one, the three of them must navigate tricky emotions while working to uncover a trail of spies and traitors, including someone closer than they realize who intends shorten the war by betraying Britain.
For the In Farleigh Field recipe:
Recipes for books about World War II are often a challenge since most countries faced rations, if not starvation. (See my struggle to find a recipe for The Nightingale here). With In Farleigh Field, it was no different.
I could have featured one of the dishes served at Jeremy Prescott’s return party, but it didn’t feel right. After a little searching, I remembered the cook at Farleigh often complaining about vegetable pie. And, Lord Westerham’s subsequent complaints about eating it.
A little more research revealed that during the war the chef at the London Savoy created what would become known as Lord Woolton pie–a pastry dish filled with hardy vegetables and gravy. It was one of the many recipes released by the Ministry of Food (headed by none other than Lord Woolton) to help ensure a nutritional diet despite rations.
I will say that this is not the most amazing dish you will ever make, but it is hearty and, on a cold night, a warm and filling meal. It tastes like a chicken pot pie without the chicken.
The original recipe calls for vegemite and a crust of either wheatmeal with oats or potato. I used plain vegetable bouillon instead and my crust used butter (rationed in the war). In fact, the crust was very thick and if you aren’t up to making it, I would recommend using a premade pie crust to lighten the dish. If I made it again, that is probably what I would do.
The goal here is to get a close-to-real book experience, but, hey, we aren’t living in ration times (thank God!). So, if you are looking for food ideas for In Farleigh Field, or really any WWII novel, I think your book club will be happy to try Lord Woolton Pie!
Lord Woolton Pie:
Lord Woolton Pie
For the filling:
- 1 lb potatoes 3-4 medium
- 1 lb parsnip
- 1 lb carrots
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 Parsley for garnish
- 1 tbsp rolled oats
- 2 bouillon cubes beef or vegetable
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup butter salted
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the filling:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Dice the potatoes, parsnip, and carrots and place into a large pot. Thinly slice the scallions and reserve.
- Add the oats to the pot and fill the pot with just enough water to cover the mix ¾ way up.
- Boil for 15 minutes, then strain the vegetables and place in an 8X8 casserole dish or a pie dish, leaving the water in the pot. At this point, add the fresh scallions over the cooked vegetables. (This is also a good time to build the crust).
- Continue to boil the water, adding in the bouillon cubes until reduced by half.
- Sprinkle in 1 tbsp of flour and whisk to create a gravy. When desired consistency is reached (2-3 minutes) pour the mix over the veggies. The veggies will continue to sweat in the oven so a thicker gravy is preferred.
- Salt and pepper the filling.
For the crust:
- Mix the flour and butter using a pastry cutter or your fingers.
- Add in the olive oil until incorporated.
- Roll out the dough until it will cover the top of your casserole dish. The crust will be somewhat dry.
- Top the filling with the crust.
- Carefully puncture a few air holes so that the pie can breathe while cooking.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes at 375 degrees.
- Serve hot and garnished with parsley.
In Farleigh Field Book Club Questions:
*WARNING: May contain spoilers!
- Rhys Bowen set up a love triangle between Jeremy, Pamela, and Ben. The reader is not given much history for the reason Pamela loves Jeremy, except for their social class and his dare-devil qualities. Did you believe their love or were you questioning it from the start?
- In wartime, prejudices abound and lead to quick suspicions. How do you think that those prejudices affected the way you read the book? Were you quick to jump to conclusions about certain characters? Do you think that certain prejudices are justified during wartime or not?
- Where you surprised when Ben asked Mavis out? Did you really believe that he was over Pamela and ready to date someone else? Why or why not?
- Did Rhys Bowen have you guessing until the very end about the undercover German agent? Who did you suspect? Were your suspicions valid?
- A few members of the community were benefiting from wartime to the point of exploitation. When do you think that the “each-man-for-himself” mentality is called for and when is the common good more important? Are there clear delineations?
- Margot Sutton had an interesting story line throughout the book. However, after her rescue and return to Farleigh, her story seems to almost disappear. Would you have liked her story as a double agent to have continued in more prominence? In what ways would being a double agent be easier than working for one side? How would it be harder?
- Do you think that Jeremy got his “just desserts” or did you think he got off too easy by dying quickly and off-page? Did you sympathize with Jeremy in any way?
- Maxwell Knight says several times that women make the best spies because they are great actors, insinuating that they play up drama to their advantage. Do you think this is a limiting gender stereotype or do you think that it is true?
- After Pamela mentions many times that she thinks of Ben as a brother, the book ends with her giving Ben a gaze that “was not sisterly.” Can a person change from seeing someone in a brotherly light and fall romantically in love? Why or why not? Will it will last between Ben and Pamela?
- What do you think was Jeremy Prescott’s real reason for assisting Germany in the attempted assassination of Winston Churchill? Did you believe the reason given—that he believed it would help Britain conserve monuments and integrity if they surrendered sooner rather than later? Or, do you think that he was tortured and relented? What other reasons might he have?
Have you read In Farleigh Field? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?
Until next time, Happy Reading!
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