I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent engrossed in this huge volume: Martha’s Entertaining: A Year of Celebrations. The first 300 or so pages are just photos, with brief explanations, of Martha’s parties (you’ll find recipes in the last 100 pages). You’ll see inside her various homes, and the grounds of those homes. The MSLO cast of characters is present at many parties, but so are some of Martha’s friends and families. There are parties for everything you can imagine: tea, July 4th, breakfast on the porch, dinner in the clerestory, celebrating a master gardener, Christmas, Easter, spring dinner, and even a picnic at sea. Martha likes to party apparently!
I enjoyed this because it was just so completely over the top. This isn’t a book you pick up and think, “Ok, I’ll do that for the party I’m having next weekend.” Certainly it’s inspirational, and you’ll find loads of great ideas for decorations and food (not to mention the china, silver, and crystal that all looks so lovely), but few people are going to be able to replicate most of this. That being said, it is just a fun book to read through, particularly if you want to catch a glimpse inside Martha’s life or if you just love good photos of food and decor. There are many ideas here that can be toned down to work for the average person. I loved the Peony Garden Party and would love to incorporate some of those ideas to a gathering at my home.
The recipes are mostly very high yield (30+ people) although there are some that are smaller. The recipes are delicious sounding, but honestly there aren’t too many I felt compelled to try. I probably won’t be making Mini Crab Papapadams, Terrine of Duck Breast and Leg Confit, or Orange Easter Cake with Tiny Meringue Nests any time soon. That doesn’t matter though because this is a book about fantasies – the parties you would give if you had a catering staff on hand and Kevin Sharkey on retainer.
I truly enjoyed this book (which I borrowed from the library), but won’t be plunking down $75 to own it. It’s definitely fun to poke around in and ooh and aah at the gorgeous photos, the decadent food, and Martha’s incredible lifestyle.