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Blessed Are the Cheesemakers

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers

4.4 16
by Sarah-Kate Lynch

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Set on a small Irish dairy farm, this tender and funny debut novel follows two lost souls as they try to carve out new lives amid a colorful cast of characters reminiscent of those in the hit film Waking Ned Divine. Abby has been estranged from the family farm since her rebellious mother ran off with her when she was a small child. Kit is a burned out New York


Set on a small Irish dairy farm, this tender and funny debut novel follows two lost souls as they try to carve out new lives amid a colorful cast of characters reminiscent of those in the hit film Waking Ned Divine. Abby has been estranged from the family farm since her rebellious mother ran off with her when she was a small child. Kit is a burned out New York stockbroker who's down on his luck. But that's all about to change, now that he and Abby have converged on the farm just in time to help Corrie and Fee, two old cheesemakers in a time of need. Full of delightful and quirky characters--from dairy cows who only give their best product to pregnant, vegetarian teens to an odd collection of whiskey-soaked men and broken-hearted women who find refuge under Corrie and Fee's roof--BLESSED ARE THE CHEESEMAKERS is an irresistible tale about taking life's spilled milk and turning it into the best cheese in the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Optioned by Working Title Films. (July 2) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Kit is a burned-out New York stock trader who's been packed off by his Irish secretary to a far corner of her homeland to dry out and get his head on straight. Abbey, who is estranged from her philandering husband and heartless mother, has fled to her grandfather's Irish dairy farm to help out with his boutique cheese-making business. For the doddering old cheesemakers and their team of pregnant teenage dairymaids, Kit and Abbey prove to be a match made in heaven, guaranteeing the continuation of their beloved business. The two protagonists, who are both smarting from a deep emotional injury, are drawn together by a powerful chemistry neither understands. Is it the cheese? Is it the warmth and comfort of Irish hospitality? Whatever the catalyst, love blooms amid the cast of quirky characters, the gently rolling Irish countryside, the patient and cooperative cows, and a barn full of recalcitrant and perplexing dairy equipment, and spilt milk becomes a metaphor for life's unexpected changes. This funny, touching, and heartwarming debut novel by New Zealand journalist Lynch is being touted as the next Chocolat and has already been optioned for filmdom by the producers of Bridget Jones' Diary. Highly recommended.-Susan Clifford Braun, Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cheesy US debut about a collection of misfits and losers who come together on a magical dairy farm in Ireland. Lynch must have watched too many reruns of The Quiet Man and Waking Ned Devine for her own good, for she seems to have re-created the same nauseatingly enchanted Ireland that was inhabited by both of those high-fructose films. Basically, everything here revolves around Coolarney House, a dairy farm outside of Cork. Run by two old codgers named Corrie and Fee, Coolarney House produces the finest cheeses in Ireland, possibly the world (their Princess Grace Memorial Blue is particularly famed). One of the secrets of the Coolarney cheeses is that the cows are milked by vegetarians singing Rogers and Hammerstein songs. Naturally, Corrie and Fee have to scout afield for musical, meatless milkmaids and keep them happy once they find them, so Coolarney House soon acquires a reputation among its neighbors as a kind of commune of happy cranks. So much the better for Christopher "Kit" Stephens and Abbey Corrigan, both simultaneously hitting bedrock at opposite ends of the globe. Kit (a recently widowed stockbroker who has taken to the bottle hard since his wife and baby died six months before) has just been fired, while Abbey (a childless relief worker wasting her efforts on a South Seas island where the natives don't want her help) has just found out that her jerk of a husband has been cheating on her. So off to Ireland both go, hoping to put life back together with some fresh air, fresh dairy, honest toil, and more than a bit of blarney. Naturally, neither knows the first thing about farming, but Coolarney House is, as we say, used to all sorts. There's sure to be a pot of gold at the endof this rainbow. Amusing in a Green Acres kind of way, but far too cute for comfort overall. Agent: Ginger Barber/William Morris

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Read an Excerpt

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers

By Sarah-Kate Lynch


Copyright © 2002 Sarah-Kate Lynch
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0446531286

Chapter One

"You can't hurry cheese. It happens in its own time and if that bothers you, you can just feck off."

Joseph Feehan, from The Cheese Diaries, Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) Radio Archives

The Princess Grace Memorial Blue sat on the table in front of Abbey, screaming to be eaten. Abbey, as always, was smiling her dreamy smile, her eyes half closed and her head slightly thrown back, as though she were preparing to blow out a candle and make a wish. Well, it was her twenty-ninth birthday, after all, and there would have been candles, too, had not the Princess Grace been a particularly fussy cheese, inclined to expel a pungent foul-smelling aroma if fiddled with in any fashion. Actually, this pernicketiness was what made her so special. She was made with fresh Coolarney milk hand-expressed at daybreak every April 19 and she was treated like royalty from the first tweak of the first teat to the last crumb on the last tongue. She insisted on it. She was that sort of a cheese.

Her creators, Joseph Corrigan and Joseph Feehan, better known as Corrie and Fee, could not take their eyes off her. They'd been making the Memorial Blues just one day a year ever since Grace Kelly (with whom they were both in love at the time) broke their hearts by marrying Prince Rainier of Monaco on April 19 in 1956. The resulting cheeses were wildly sought after and cherished throughout the world, but nowhere as much as at home.

"She's a fine feckin' thing," Fee said, licking his lips in a mildly lascivious manner, his cheeks rosy with anticipation as his fat round bottom bounced in its seat.

"She's all right," agreed Corrie, raising his eyebrows in a show of appreciation. Abbey looked on, smiling. Princess Grace stood taller than the average Coolarney Blue. Her flesh was palest blond, the exact shade of her namesake's hair in her heyday, and her veins were a perfect mixture of sky blue and sea green, silvery in some lights, black in others, depending on her mood.

Her fans had been sitting in the smoking room for nearly two hours, just watching and waiting for her to reach the perfect temperature. The room was their favorite and, unlike almost every other in the rambling, gracious home, was out of bounds to the many Coolarney House comers and goers. It needed little sun, which was just as well because little sun was what it got. Two whole walls were devoted to shelves, overflowing with magazines and books, some of them over one hundred years old. The other walls were painted a rich dark green and the woodwork, too, was varnished extra dark, giving a somber, hunting lodge sort of appeal.

Corrie was in his brown leather La-Z-Boy rocker recliner, Fee in his overstuffed patched brocade armchair.

Between them, on a little round table with unmistakable altar overtones, as befitted this and every cheese-eating occasion, sat the glorious Grace and, of course, Abbey. At seventy-three Corrie bore the same uncanny resemblance to Jimmy Stewart that he had as a younger man (although the girls commented on this less now that Jimmy was mostly a memory, long since replaced by Mels and Harrisons and Brads). His eyes were sparkling blue, his gray hair thick and slicked back with some ancient odor-free hair cream. He'd been six feet two once upon a time, but admitted now to a stoop that he blamed on the years spent bending over the cheese vat, which had shortened him by a couple of inches. Always impeccably dressed, he was wearing a pale blue woolen sweater over a crisp white cotton shirt and a dark brown pair of '50s-style high-waisted trousers.

Fee, on the other hand, was wearing a desperate pair of pond-scum green corduroy pants, belted around his not insubstantial middle with an old piece of twine. His checked brown shirt and gray cardigan matched only in the number of holes that happened in the same spot, giving the impression that at some stage, many years earlier, he had perhaps been poked all over with a giant sharpened pencil.

Fee was as short and stout as Corrie was tall and lean, and should they be standing close together, as they often were, from a distance they looked for all the world like the letters d or b-depending on which side Fee was standing. "Twenty-nine," Fee said, shaking his head in Abbey's direction, his voice tinged with a peculiar sort of amazement. "You wouldn't credit it."

Corrie nodded in agreement, and looked from Abbey to the Princess and back again. God knew he loved his cheeses, but what he felt for Abbey at that precise moment, or any moment she occupied his thoughts, no dairy product of any kind, even an impeccably flawless gem like Princess Grace, could ever hope to match. Yet still he felt sad. He poked at the fire's glowing embers and concentrated on the loud tick-tocking of his grandfather's clock as they waited in companionable silence. "It's time, Joseph," Fee said finally, when he knew that it was, and he sat forward in his chair and reached for his cheese knife.

"For Grace?" Corrie asked, surprised. He'd have thought it another while away yet, but Fee was the expert, there'd be no argument there.

"For a lot of things," Fee said cryptically, sucking a wedge of the Princess off the blade of his bone-handled knife and forcing it up against the roof of his mouth. He pushed his tongue against it, soaking up its perfect texture and exquisite flavor.

"Right so," said Corrie, gently moving in to slice a chunk out of Grace with his own stainless- steel knife. He'd known Joseph Feehan for seventy-three years and for the first sixty-five had tried to make sense of what he said. More recently he had given up, realizing that it made no difference to the outcome and anyway it was part of Fee's charm. And Fee needed all the charm he could get. Corrie raised his knife, sporting its perfectly balanced creamy blue wedge, in the direction of Abbey and toasted her.

"Happy birthday, Abbey," he said. "I hope you're enjoying it and please God you'll be with us for the next one." Abbey kept smiling her dreamy smile, eyes half closed, head slightly thrown back.

Corrie tucked his melancholy away and surrendered his senses to the touch and taste of Princess Grace. How she lingered on his lips! How she sang to his saliva! How she tap-danced on his taste buds! When the last tingle of the first taste had melted away to nothing, Corrie turned to his granddaughter, reached across the table and picked her up, planting a kiss on her smile. He looked at the photo awhile, tracing with his smooth cheesemaker's finger the lip- shaped smudge his kiss had left on the glass in the frame, then he sighed and put Abbey back on the table. It's time all right, Fee thought quietly to himself as he reached for another wedge.


Excerpted from Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch Copyright © 2002 by Sarah-Kate Lynch
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

SARAH KATE LYNCH is a journalist, former columnist and editor of the New Zealand Women's Weekly. Lynch, a third generation New Zealander draws on her ancestral West Cork, Ireland, roots in Blessed Are the Cheesemakers, her second novel.

HEATHER O'NEILL has appeared in numerous Off-Broadway plays. Her audio narration credits include Blessed Are the Cheesemakers, The Accidental, Field of Blood, and The Dead Hour.

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Blessed Are the Cheesemakers 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this story quite a while ago. Years even. And still I remember how whimsical and magical it was to read. If you are a fan of Alice Hoffman and the fairly new author Sarah Addison Allen then you will LOVE this book. Although the story could be quite sad it never is. Her upbeat way of telling what happens makes your mouth water for some cheese. I must tell that while reading this story my husband who works on hvac and also commercial refrigerators and freezers was sent on a job to fix a refrigerator truck. A delivery truck for cold items. Because they were so afraid the cheese would just go bad they gave an entire box (big box) full of gourmet imported cheeses to my husband to bring home. Brie, Swiss, Gorgonzola, St. Andre, Havarti, etc. And so I was very much spoiled whilst reading this extraordinarily magical book that seemed to have leaked into my real life with the cheese! A MUST READ! (for fans of this type of story)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Such a great book, I recommend it to everyone. So much whimsy and still based on the age old story of seeking love. Great, great, great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beautiful, magical, captivating. Loved this story so much I went out the next day and sent a copy to my mother.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a delightful book which captivates and amuses. The characters are completely engaging and the coincidences which bring them together lead to a wonderful culmination. It makes me want to learn cheesemaking!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting book. It was a bit slow until all the people came together, but once it does, it is a most enjoyable book. I enjoyed the several twists that occurred.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Blessed are those who read this enchanting and delightful volume. Each chapter begins with a charming account of cheesemaking. The characters are well-developed and believable. Lynch adroitly weaves rural and cosmopolitan settngs, along-side old values and current-day problems.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this story of how fate brought lives together to rhis small cheesemaking operation in Ireland. It was a bit slow to start until all the pieces started falling into place, but once i was hooked, I couldnt put it down. I loved the quirky humor and the overall kindness ofthe characters. Highly recommend!
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In County Cork, Ireland, Joseph ¿Corrie¿ Corrigan and Joseph ¿Fee¿ Feehan produce the internationally famous Coolarney Blue cheese. However as the two Josephs age, they worry about their company¿s future. So they decide to embark on successor planning.

Corrie has not seen his granddaughter Abbey in almost a quarter of a century. Currently, she feels abandoned by her womanizing preacher of a spouse spouting the word to natives on a Pacific Island. She knows she needs a change of scenery from her locale and more from her ripping her skin for some alleged sin husband.

On an Atlantic island named Manhattan, alcoholic Kit Stephens has lost his way since his wife and child died. Recently he also loses his stockbroker position. He needs a change of scenery to start over. Fate enters the mix and soon Abbey and Kit meet at the Coolarney cheese factory.

This cheesy romance is amusing due mostly to the geezers, the cows, and the cats serving as interesting secondary characters. Abbey and Kit seems like nice people, but both sing the blues until they meet each other and see in the other a second chance. Throw in the magic of Eire leading to the audience singing along to the Sound of Music.

Harriet Klausner