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Book Club – Whistling Past the Graveyard

Book Club & Chess Pie

It’s almost time for our May book club so I thought I’d best tell you about our March book!!  We read Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall.  I personally loved this book.  If  you loved The Help, or Kitchen House you will love this book too.  The characters were so real to me, I literally felt like I could reach out and hug them, and I wanted to, especially the main character Starla.  Oh golly what heartache some kids endure!  I loved every minute of this book, even though a few tears were shed along the way.   I cannot fail to mention that food was a big element in this book, the other main character Eula used baking as an escape.  When she was sad or distraught she baked her tears away, it brought her joy.  I could seriously relate to Eula, not her exact struggles but that baking and cooking brought her peace.  Eula had so many great nuggets of wisdom through out this book one of my favorites came near the end when she said to Starla….

“Child, the good Lord got plans for all of us that we don’t know- and he always got his reasons.  He want us to learn and rejoice in the good that come from his design.”

Words to live by!

Here’s what Goodreads had to say: The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.

When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that Mamie will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride, with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville.

As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla’s eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart.


Book Club & Chess PieDetails of the night…. Linda was our host and she did a fabulous job!  As does every one of the Babes Under Covers when it’s their turn to host.  I always love seeing everybody’s unique style and how they draw from the book for hostess inspiration. Linda baked us her momma’s Chess Pie (and she shared the recipe with us!!) which was DEEliscious! as well as other goodies that were made and mentioned by Eula in the book.  She did warn us ahead of time that there would only be sweets and libations, so we needed to eat our din-din before we came! LOL.


Book Club & Chess Pie


Chess Pie
from the recipe box of Sharon Wingert

1 unbaked Pie Crust
3 Eggs
2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Butter, melted (the recipe called for oleo)
1 tablespoon Lemon Extract
1/4 scant cup Flour
1 cup Buttermilk or Sweet Milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place unbaked pie crust in pie pan, crimp edges. Mix eggs, sugar, melted butter, lemon extract, flour and buttermilk together, pour into pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until filling has set or is no longer loose in the middle when pie is jiggled.
“Good and quick and easy to make!”

Thanks you Linda for sharing your momma’s perfectly easy and scrumptious pie recipe!



Overall: We all really enjoyed Whistling Past the Graveyard.  Giving it a solid 4 out of 5  stars! We agreed it was an easy read.  If I remember correctly some BUCs thought that the book ended too perfectly.  Which without giving away the ending, I will say I would disagree.  I thought the book was realistic all the way through.  Overall the BUCs said they would recommend this book, thumbs up to Whistling Past the Graveyard!

By the way had you heard the expression “whistling past the graveyard” before?  I had not.  It’s a great title for a great book whose characters persevere and maintain a positive attitude through some of the most difficult circumstances.


What have you been reading lately?  Please share in the comments!! I’ve read…………..

Little Bee  I loved this book, I could not put it down, but let me caution you do not read this book on a beach vacation!  If you’ve read you know why, if you haven’t read you will know soon enough.  I give this book a 4 1/2 out of 5.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs This book started out slow for me, and at times I was mixed up about what was going on, but it could have been when and where I was reading it. (In a jam packed car with my family for 22 hour drive to Florida…..brain squished.)  I nearly quit this book, but I’m glad I did not it was a unique story that I ended up really enjoying.  Because of slow start I’m giving it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Orphan Train I loved this book.  The story of two very different women, and how their lives unexpectedly converge.  I love this book, did I say that already?  I never read books twice, but I might consider reading this again.  I’m giving it 5 stars.

The Kitchen House I’ve been on a roll of good books lately.  This book is set back in the late 1700’s.  It’s the story of two women one being an orphaned Irish girl who finds herself a home on a plantation as a servant.  There she works closely with the slaves in the kitchen house and they become her family.  She has some hard lessons to learn about freedom, love, and truth.  The other woman is a kitchen house slave that becomes like a sister to the Irish servant.  This era in our countries history fascinates and saddens me all that the same time!  This book was a page turner.  I’m giving it a 4 1/2 stars.


What I’m reading next……….

Three Many Cooks by my all time favorite cookbook author and her daughters Pam Anderson I have anticipated this book for so long, and it arrived as a gift on my doorstep from Pam, Maggie, and Sharon yesterday!  I literally hugged it!  Can’t wait to dig in.  I’m guessing I’ll give this book 5 forks 😉  Three Many Cooks is also a blog and an amazing resource for tried and true recipes!


Join the Babes Under Covers for our next book club reads….

May     Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

July     The Rent Collector by Camron Wright


Happy Reading! XOX, Sheila

PS don’t forget to share with me what you’ve been reading or if you’ve read any of the above and thoughts!!!

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  1. The chess pie looks delicious.

    I’ve been reading nonfiction recently. I loved “I’m Proud of You” by Tim Madigan. The author is a newspaper reporter who met Fred Rogers when he interviewed him for a story. The book tells how Mr. Rogers later counseled him and helped him in his relationships with his wife, father, and brother. I never watched Mr. Rogers on television, but I found this book to be very moving.

    I also read “The Big Tiny” by Dee Williams. It’s a memoir of how the author, a young woman with congestive heart failure, built her own tiny house (with no running water or electricity) and moved into it and adopted a simple life. I lost interest in her quirky musings about everything.

    Keep up the book posts. : )

    1. Kirstin, I loved Mr Rogers! I am adding that book to my list. Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you like the book club posts! XO Sheila

  2. Love to hear about the books your group reads, Sheila! Our group sometimes reads some of the same titles as yours does. Last year we read Orphan Train and we all loved it too. Our recent reads have included The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent (well liked by all), The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (long, but well liked by all), and Blue Skies and Thunder by Virgil Westdale, a 97 year old WWII veteran. It’s his life story and he lives somewhere in the Grand Rapids area. A member of our group happened to have his business card so our facilitator called him and invited him to our meeting. He came, though someone had to pick him up, because he doesn’t do night driving. He was a fascinating person and we all enjoyed listening to his story. He is even going to Russia this week to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ending of WWII. It’s so neat when we read a book written by a local author and they are available to visit our group. Our next title is The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. In June we are reading Take Me With You and July will be Still Alice, not sure of the authors of these two.
    Happy reading!

    1. Kathy,

      I can’t thank you enough for sharing all your bookclub reads! That is so incredible that you were able to get the author of a book you read to your bookclub!! I loved Still Alice, but have not read any of the other books you mentioned…so Yeh my book wish list is ever growing 😉

      Have a great day!

  3. Thanks for the great book suggestions – I always enjoy your book club posts! Have you read The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd? It comes very highly recommended. I’m picking up a copy today!

    1. Thanks Andrea! I have not read it, but I love Sue Monk Kidds books so I will be adding it to my long list of want to read books!

    1. This pie was so good…and I can’t take any credit for it!! LOL Let me know what you think of Whistling if you get a chance to read it 😉

  4. I put this on my book list! Orphan train has been on my list as well. Currently, I’m reading “Moon Over Tokyo” and am enjoying it. Thanks for another suggestion! xoxo


  5. I loved Whistling Past the Graveyard, too. The book ending was the way I was ok with – she and her Dad and Eula working things out. I just finished The Second Sister by Marie Bostwick. A lot of Lucy’s family history is revealed as you progress through the book and while I wanted to understand it all at the beginning of the book, having it peeled like an onion – one layer at a time, allowed each character to develop slowly and fully. Quilting was a part of this book but it was not overwhelming
    ( I love to quilt). I would love to have the recipe for the “You Like-A Me ” Bars mentioned several times in the book. My next read is The Kitchen House.

    1. I love to quilt too, but I’m not very good at it. I will be adding this book to my list! thanks for sharing!

  6. I really enjoyed Diane Chamberlain’s book Necessary Lies. It reminded me somewhat of the book The Help and I think that is why I enjoyed it so much.
    Here is a summary of the book from Diane Chamberlain’s webite:

    After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm. As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

    When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed. She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients’ lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband. But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed. Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.
    Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy. Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?