The Glass Flame


s-l500I wanted to love this book. Last fall, when I was sorting through some boxes that I had taken from my mother’s house, I found a list of the books she had read from 1986 to 1990. This was the first on the list. I hadn’t read but a few pages when I realized how much I was loving the size and shape of the book. Even though it’s a hardcover, it fit perfectly in my hand and I could put my left thumb in the binding between the two pages and steady the whole thing with my right hand! (FYI: the book’s dimensions are 6″ wide by 8½ ” high.) That was an auspicious beginning to my read. Phyllis A Whitney wrote more than 70 books for children and adults, characterizing her adult books as “romantic suspense novels.” This one certainly falls into that category. Karen Hallam has been called to Gatlinburg, Tennessee for her husband’s funeral. Although they were estranged, divorce proceedings had just begun when David took an assignment in Tennessee. Letters to Karen from him revealed his anger about the split, and also a request if something untowardshould happen to him. Karen was staying with David’s brother, Trevor, a celebrated architect whose work Karen had photographed in the past for her magazine, although Trevor didn’t know that. There is an interesting array of characters including Lori Caton, Trevor’s wife, and their 10 year-old son Chris. Nona Andrews, Trevor’s wheelchair-bound aunt, who lived with him and his family in the gorgeous house he designed, much in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright where the structure blends beautifully into the natural landscape. Add in neighbors Eric (Lori’s uncle) and Maggie Caton and their grown son, Gifford, and other assorted characters, and the reader ends up with many possibilities as to who is responsible for David’s death. I didn’t figure it out, but that’s part of the fun for me, the surprise at all I missed or misinterpreted. Phyllis Whitney skillfully transported me to another place and time, and left me feeling  a part of the suspense. An enjoyable read. Well done, Mom!
IMG_4075Yup. My mother’s list. I don’t know how far along I’ll get, but I’m glad to have begun. Looking forward to the Shana Alexander book next.


Trevor insists on taking Karen for a drive in Great  Smoky Mountain National Park to Clingman’s Dome before she heads back to New York after the funeral. He wanted to share with her the beautiful views, and hopefully an element of peace after all the family had been through. On an April vacation trip to Myrtle Beach somewhere around 12 years ago, we had decided to take the interior western route back to Massachusetts rather than eastern coastal route.  We were in the Great Smokies only briefly before crossing into Virginia, But I remember being moved by the beauty, and hoped that someday we could do the whole route. Haven’t yet, but there’s still time.

adam-jones-autumn-view-of-fog-from-morton-overlook-great-smoky-mountains-national-park-tennesseeThe photo above is from


There had been a lot of eating, but no accounting of what was consumed, so when Nona talked about a dinner party she wanted to host, I was hopeful that, at last, I was finally going to find the food for this entry. Predictably (yes, I tend toward pessimism) Karen, from whose perspective the story is told, could remember nothing of what was served that night! Thanks a lot, Karen. So it was back to the potato salad Nona had served on the deck after Karen returned from a disturbing encounter with Maggie in her studio. Nona was reputed to be a good cook, so I thought maybe her potato salad might be something special. When I googled “Tennessee Potato Salad,” a number of recipes came up for Carolina BBQ potato salad, but the one that caught my eye was called “Tennessee Que Potato Salad.”  The commentary with the recipe said that Tennesseans like their mustard, and that this recipe used Palmetto Gold Bar-B-Que Sauce. I found a recipe for Golden Carolina BBQ sauce, and combined them to make the salad recipe here, with modifications on quantities to suir my personal taste.


3 lbs golden potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
½ C diced celery
½ C diced red onion
½ C sliced green onion
½ C chopped sweet pickles
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
¼ C Golden Carolina BBQ Sauce (recipe below)
1 C mayonnaise

In a large pot, cover potatoes with cool water. Add a tablespoon of salt, place on high heat and bring to a boil. Boil potatoes until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Place potatoes in a colander and spray with cold water to stop cooking. Transfer to a large mixing bowl once potatoes have cooled and refrigerate for at least a half hour. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover potato salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Golden Carolina BBQ Sauce

½ C mustard
¼ C apple cider vinegar
¼ C brown sugar
½ T tomato paste
½ tsp salt
⅛ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp white pepper
⅛ tsp cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on low heat until warmed through and bubbling around the edges. Make sure to stir sauce often to prevent burning. Once cooked through, remove from heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature before using. If making ahead of time, cool completely, place into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week after preparation. The sauce can be stored in the same manner in the freezer for a few months.

*After having this for lunch, we decided to throw away all our old potato salad recipes and keep just this one. It was absolutely delicious.



1 thought on “The Glass Flame

  1. I always love reading your posts for good, new books and to find beauty everywhere, but I am just getting to this one and found the list of books to read of your Mom’s. That’s amazingly wonderful!


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