I've opened a new Pinterest board designed to furnish suggestions to any book club that decides to read "Beyond All Price." It contains a couple of longish articles about why I chose to write about the Roundhead Regiment, and then why I decided to focus on Nellie Chase, the regimental nurse. Two book lists provide additional reading; one on the other books in this series, and the other on the general topic of nurses in the Civil War. After that come several pins of discussion topics--questions about plot, setting, character, and theme.
I always enjoy putting together some book-related menu items, but in this case, I ended up with two different ideas. So why not let you choose. One of the central scenes in the book is the Christmas party the Roundheads hosted in Beaufort in 1861. If your club has a December meeting, this might be ideal. The text suggests that they served only cakes, cookies, and punches. There's a wonderfully dense fruitcake featuring only dried fruits, not that horrid technicolored mishmash of candied stuff sold in modern supermarkets. The other two cakes are traditional Southern specialties -- coconut and caramel cakes. To accompany them, there is syllabub, which probably sounds more interesting in the text than it is in practice. Another possibility, and one the Roundheads would have applauded, is Artillery Punch, a particularly lethal blend of all varieties of alcoholic beverages. (Artillery Punch is still to be found in military circles. We first encountered it at a Navy base on New Year's Eve. Luckily we lived just across the street from the party site, so we made it home!) Nellie also recommended a non-alcoholic punch, so there's one of those, too. Throw in some spicy pecans and some benne wafer cookies, and you have a sure-fire formula for a rowdy, if not scholarly, book discussion.
At other times of the year, a brunch might be more suitable. The scene in which the Leverett slaves introduce the Roundheads to the traditional southern breakfast provides many ideas. You probably don't want to put acorns in your coffee, but chickory is an acceptable subsitute. Then offer ham biscuits, grits, and sausage gravy (or maybe red-eye gravy). If it's a late morning affair, add a bowl of Nellie's own oyster stew.
Nellie knew that good food helped her patients get well faster. You won't go far wrong following any of her suggestions.