Entertaining—it may not be a top priority for most of us these days as we continue to socially distance and limit our interactions with family and friends. And yet, having now spent approximately six months in some form of quarantine, several hours or meaningful connection with peers, neighbors, coworkers, and relatives may just be what we long for (and need) more than anything else.
Enter India Hicks's An Entertaining Story, the fourth book penned by the British and Bahamian style icon and her first dedicated to entertaining. With a foreword by Brooke Shields, the book begins with what Hicks describes as the most important meal of the day—cocktail hour—and ends with breakfast. Along the way, there are family dinners, picnic lunchs, birthday cakes, and Christmas crackers.
Hicks's new book is anything but your typical tome about parties filled with elaborate menus, exquisite table settings, and over-the-top florals, which isn't to say it lacks elegance, style, or even a-list guests. In fact, that's exactly it's charm: Hicks's seemingly innate ability to pull together the most beautiful events, from intimate dinners for two to large-scale fundraisers, relying largely on her impeccable sense of style, her sharp (and funny) wit, and what she's able to rustle up that day.
It doesn't hurt that Hicks has longtime family cook Claire Williams, lovingly known as Top Banana, as her partner in crime, and Hicks is the first to admit it. ("Without Claire, we would all be really hungry.") And one of the unexpected delights of the book is the inclusion of several secret family recipes from Williams. Her Chicken Potpie; Cucumber, Feta, and Pistachio Salad; and Chocolate Brownies with Fresh Raspberries are just a few of the dishes you'll want to put into regular rotation.
But, of course, it's the deeply personal stories Hicks tells with equal parts bluntness and irreverence and peppered with funny, intimate details that makes An Entertaining Story such an entertaining story.
Take the time Hicks planned a dinner for the King of Spain, a distant relative, who was sailing through the islands. (He turned out to be a no-show, thanks to a mix up with the dates, but that didn't stop Hicks's regal dinner party.) Or her daughter's 11th birthday, when Hicks struggled to top what she'd done when Domino had turned 10—unicorns!—until she discovered a treasure trove of rose gold party supplies and became very well acquainted with her glue gun.
Perhaps the most heartwarming story is the book's second to last, that of Hicks's 2020 New Year's Eve party, which was a fundraiser to support the Global Empowerment Mission in its effort to help those affected by 2019's Hurrican Dorian rebuild their lives. Hicks and Williams channeled their resourcefulness and expertise, calling on friends all over Harbour Island and beyond to pull together an elegant dinner party for several hundred guests on the fly.
Ultimately, Hicks's book is a reminder of the beauty and importance of spontaneity, humor, and togetherness, particularly when it comes to entertaining. May it inspire us all to refrain from the pursuit of hosting "perfect" parties and instead embrace the moment and cherish the time we have together.
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