"P.S. I Love You" Book Discussion and "Jammy Dodgers" Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Recipe
Holly’s husband Gerry has just died of a brain tumor. She thought they would have the rest of their lives together, and instead she has to learn how to be a widow before she has even turned thirty. But Gerry didn’t leave her to fend for herself completely. He left a series of letters for her to open, one per month, each with a different challenge, which will help her to heal and let go, one small step at a time. He’s thought of everything she will need in order to start living life again, from finding a new job after she quit her last one to take care of him, to overcoming her greatest fear-singing karaoke in front of a crowd of strangers. Throughout the year, Holly meets new friends, heals a relationship with her brother, and overcomes things she never imagined she could deal with.
is very tragic and heart-wrenching, but also encouraging and hopeful. It shows how if life is taken one day at a time, any challenge can be adapted to, and friends can be found in even the most unlikely people. P. S. I Love You
Perfect for fans of
- Romantic drama/ comedy
- Overcoming tragedy
- Contemporary fiction
- Friendship stories
- Women’s fiction
Why had no one told Holly that her wedding day “would be so tiring”? Why was it? Was yours? How was hers different from Denise’s?
What were some of the things Gerry prompted Holly to do in his letters? Why, especially with the ones that made her uncomfortable?
What terrible thing had happened with Holly, Gerry, and karaoke? What happened her second time?
What is a widow’s allowance, and how did it allow Holly to sort of indulge herself for a while? Do you think this was a good thing?
Gerry had Holly get rid of most of his things, but what article of clothing did she keep to wear? Why? What is the scientific reason behind why some girls often keep or wear the clothes of the man they love (or even some men have tried it and felt the same effects)?
How did Declan’s party film show Holly how she truly felt, especially in unguarded moments?
Do you think Holly was brave for coping when her husband died, or that it isn’t brave, it’s something you have to do, as Ciara felt about bungee jumping?
During a time of reflection, Holly sat on a swing set and longed for her youth, wishing she didn’t have to grow up, but what benefits are there to being an adult that she was missing? What are some of your favorite adult benefits you didn’t have as a child or a teen?
Why was it hard for Holly, trying to figure out how to be around certain people, as if they were judging her for being happy or sad? Who in particular made her feel this way? Did other people’s expectations of her emotions really matter as much as she let it?
Holly’s list of possible jobs included: FBI agent, lawyer, doctor, nurse, waitress, professional people spotter, beautician, hairdresser, retail assistant, journalist, comedienne, actress, model, and “hotshot businesswoman in charge of her life.” Which one did she eventually become? Do you think she would have been good at any of the others? Have you ever written out a list of possible jobs you might enjoy, and if so, what would be on it that you aren’t currently doing?
Why did Holly feel that all her friends were all just moving on with their lives and pretending like nothing had happened? Which two male friends/family members in particular were not, in fact? Why was her perception skewed?
How did Daniel and Holly both understand what it was like to feel lonely and unsure of themselves? Is this the only reason why they got along so well?
How did Holly’s new job fit her perfectly? Which coworkers of her stood out most to you, and what were some of their more entertaining moments?
Why did Holly and Denise butt heads so hard, especially at the hen party and after, in discussing the Christmas ball, which Holly didn’t want to attend?
What did you think of Gerry’s last letter? Was one year too soon for Holly? Is it different for different people?
Did this portion of the book make you want to hug and appreciate your loved ones more and better: “She just wanted Gerry back and didn’t care about anything else. She didn’t care if he came back and they fought every day, she didn’t care if they were broke and had no house and no money. She just wanted him”?
Jammy Dodgers are Holly’s favorite. For non-Brits, these are two vanilla sugar cookies with a layer of jam between them, typically raspberry or strawberry.
Also, when Jerry was ill and secretly writing Holly’s last letter, all he wanted was vanilla ice cream for breakfast, a treat his mother had never allowed him as a kid.
To commemorate these two things, I’ve created a recipe for vanilla cupcakes with strawberry jam centers, and vanilla frosting.
"Jammy Dodgers" Strawberry Jam and Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting
For the cupcakes:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 12 teaspoons strawberry (or raspberry) jam
For the frosting:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 tbsp whole milk or heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 325° F. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat one softened stick of butter with the granulated sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Drop the speed to low, add the sour cream and milk, then slowly add one third of the dry ingredients to the bowl, followed by the vanilla extract. Add another third of the dry ingredients, and if you see them sticking to the side of the bowl, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in the last of the dry ingredients, and increase the speed to medium. Then add the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated, then turn off the mixer.
- Line a cupcake pan with paper liners. Fill each cupcake liner about one-third full with batter. Top with one teaspoon of jam each, then a little bit more cupcake batter, only until each is about two-thirds full. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with crumbs, not raw batter. Allow the individual cupcakes to cool completely (minimum of ten minutes, preferably fifteen) on a wire rack or cutting board before frosting them. Makes 14-16 cupcakes.
- For the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip one stick of softened butter on medium-high speed for one minute. Then drop the speed to low and add one cup of powdered sugar, followed by half of the milk or cream, and the vanilla extract. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar, still on low. When there is no loose powder left, increase the speed to medium-high for one minute, until frosting looks thick and whipped. Frost onto cooled cupcakes. I used an XL star tip.
"Jammy Dodgers" Strawberry Jam and Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting
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The new release and sequel to this book is . Other books by Cecelia Ahern are Love, Rosie; Thanks for the Memories; If You Could See Me Now; The Book of Tomorrow; A Place Called Here; The Gift; The Time of My Life; and more... Postscript
Evie Drake Starts Over is about another young, new widow having to start life, and love, over again.
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks is another timeless love story-turned-film, but from a man’s perspective, about losing the love of his life to Alzheimer’s and a long love letter to help bring her back.
After You by Jojo Moyes is a bestseller about another woman trying to rebuild her life after losing the man she loved, having to move back to her parent’s house, and trying to find purpose and perhaps love, in life again.
For more self-empowerment through difficulties stories, with a bit of comedy and romance, read anything by Jenny Colgan. Her most newest release, The Bookshop on the Shore, is a spinoff of another character’s story from her most popular novel, The Bookshop on the Corner. Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe is also about one relationship ending and another beginning.
“Growing older became something he wanted desperately to accomplish, rather than merely a dreaded inevitability. How presumptuous they both had been never to consider growing old as an achievement and a challenge.”
“Days went by when she felt so happy and confident that her life would be OK, and then as quickly as the feeling came it would disappear again, and she would feel her sadness setting in once more.”
“She wished all her memories could be of the good times, but the bad times kept coming back to haunt her. And they had been such a waste of time.”
“...even in her laughter there was something missing. She never seemed to be truly happy; she just seemed to be passing time while she waited for something else. She was tired of just existing; she wanted to live.”
“She just wanted Gerry back and didn’t care about anything else. She didn’t care if he came back and they fought every day, she didn’t care if they were broke and had no house and no money. She just wanted him.”
“Memories were fine, but you couldn’t touch them, smell them or hold them. They were never exactly as the moment had been, and they faded with time.”
"Oh the wonders of the magical tea. The answer to all of life's little problems."
“What a luxury it was for people to be able to hold their loved ones whenever they wanted.”
“You have to confront things, and think of things positively. I say to myself, this is a place we used to laugh in, cry in, fight in, and when you go there and remember all those beautiful times you feel closer to your loved one. You can celebrate the love you had instead of hiding from it.”
© 2019 Amanda Leitch