Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch surprised me. It is simply a delightful book. Blessed Are the Cheesemakers was published in 2002 and my hardcover copy is 324 pages. Very simply, it is the story of two old Irish cheesemakers who are waiting for their successors to miraculously arrive. But the story is so much better than that, for example the cows are milked by pregnant vegetarians who sing along to "The Sound of Music" soundtrack as they milk. I highly recommend this book.
In the spirit of Chocolat, Lynch's debut novel is a tender love story told through the medium of food, in this case cheese. In County Cork, Ireland, Joseph Corrigan and Joseph Feehan, better known as Corrie and Fee, are the aging manufacturers of world-renowned Coolarney Blue. Their chief worry is a conspicuous lack of successors, and the narrative chronicles the solution to their quest in the unlikely but fated convergence of two characters. Abbey Corrigan, granddaughter of worrywart Corrie, who hasn't seen her in 24 years, sits abandoned on the Pacific Island Ate'ate while her irrigation-obsessed and hypercritical husband gets biblical with the natives. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Kit Stephens is a burned-out stockbroker and despondent alcoholic, heartbroken by the recent departure of his wife and now fired from his job. In a series of fantastic coincidences, the two end up at the Coolarney factory, a meeting that will forever change their lives and the future of cheese. In an engaging and humorous style, Lynch details the cheesemaking process (sun, rain, a salty sea breeze and of course, grass, are the essential ingredients, along with constant music and a secret mold), and enlivens the narrative with eccentric, loquacious and comical characters, including three ginger cats named Jesus, Mary and All the Saints. The pace of this heartwarming novel is brisk, and the background detail so colorful that the reader will henceforth eat cheese with a new appreciation for its magical properties. From Publishers Weekly
"The Princess (a cheese) oozed annoyance. She emanated anger. She fumed. Literally. She fumed. And when a good Princess turns bad, it was an eye-watering experience."
"Her mother had always told her that she'd blossom "overnight" but then her mother had also told her that Santa Claus was a child molester and that it was good luck to have nobody remember your birthday, so she hadn't been holding her breath."
"Corrie and Fee, like other artisan cheesemakers around them, had been forced to undergo inspections by pimply young men with thick spectacles and excessive dandruff who had tut-tutted a lot and written very tidy notes on gleaming clipboards."
"In my experience there's not a state in the world that cannot be greatly improved by close proximity to cheese."
"Abbey and Kit were sitting on a tartan blanket under the oak tree on the hill behind the house, testing their dental work May's nut toffee. It was delicious, but something of a challenge orthodontically speaking."