Mary Gordon's Bookshelf
By Isak Dinesen
The basic plot: Two aging Norwegian maiden sisters, the daughters of the leader of a puritanical religious sect, take in a French woman who has fallen upon hard times and who turns out to be a marvelous cook. After many years, she discovers she has won a lottery and spends her entire winnings on a fabulous dinner she creates for the sisters and their fellow congregants in gratitude. She gives everything of herself and, in doing so, transforms the Norwegians, who learn that not only virtue and self-denial but pleasure and beauty can show the path to grace.