Archives for Porridge & Cream

My Porridge & Cream read: @authormaryg #books #womensfiction

Today I’m delighted to welcome contemporary women’s novelist Mary Grand. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet by James Herriot. “My mum introduced me to James Herriot’s books in my early twenties. Fresh out of college I was living in a bedsit in Bethnal Green in London, cycling to work each day through heavy traffic to the school where I was teaching. These books were my escape into a different world, a different time. This was the world of 1930’s rural Yorkshire that was disappearing even as James Herriot wrote about it, although thankfully the hills and dales he describes with such love remain. He tells his stories with humour, charm and honesty; he is not frightened to talk about his mistakes and laugh at himself. When I was taking a picture of my copy of this book I realised this is quite an up to date cover…my early paperbacks have sadly collapsed! “I have read and re read these books throughout my life. In particular, when life has been difficult; after weeks of sleepless nights with babies; when my parents were very ill; when I had to stop work because life temporarily overwhelmed me. Gosh, as
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Categories: Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Kelly Clayton

Today I’m delighted to welcome crime author Kelly Clayton.  Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Naked in Death by JD Robb, pen name of Nora Roberts. “I first read Naked In Death over 15 years ago. I was reading a considerable number of books a week and was a regular visitor to the local library. I read most genres but was buried deep in a Nora Roberts phase at the time. I was searching through the Nora books when I realised I had read them all. Panic! So I kept looking along the alphabetical shelf, and almost the next author was JD Robb [Nora Roberts’ pen name for her crime series].  The book, Naked In Death, was the first of a series and it sounded good – set slightly in the future, it followed a New York homicide detective, Eve Dallas. I borrowed it as part of that week’s haul and headed home. I was back at the library the next day for the following two books in the series. The In Death books cover crime, slight sci-fi element (but very subtle), romance, friendship, the destructive nature of humans and how the past doesn’t have to define us. Eve Dallas is a tortured kick-ass
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Paula Harmon

Today I’m delighted to welcome murder mystery author Paula Harmon. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald. This is the second Betty MacDonald book featured in the series following Anybody can do Anything which was chosen by Judith Field in 2015. Read what Judith said here. “Dad handed me Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald when I was an adult saying, ‘you must read this’. Feeling rebellious, I left it on the shelf for a while. Besides, this copy is old and a bit musty, its paper cover long gone. But one day I came across it, remembered how funny (even when poignant) her other books were and took it down. “Now I read it at least once a year. Why? Because although it covers a period of time I didn’t experience and a place I’ve never visited, it is one of those books that describes things that never change, finds humour in the most difficult of situations and makes me laugh. Also, it takes place on an island, and I have a soft spot for islands. “Onions in the Stew starts during WWII as Betty seeks a home in Seattle for herself, her new husband, two pre-teen
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Jackie Baldwin

Today I’m delighted to welcome Scottish crime writer Jackie Baldwin. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. “The book that has never failed to delight and soothe me over the years is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I must have been in my early teens when I first read it and so embarking on a turbulent adolescence of my own alongside those of the March girls. At a girls school and with no brothers, the world of boys was something of a mystery to me too so I loved the character of Laurie and the subtle shifts and turns in his relationships with all the girls over the scope of the novels. “I have had many copies of the book over the years but this one [above] is my favourite as it contains all three books in the series. Part of its enduring appeal for me is the characters who are all just flawed enough to make them endearingly frail and human. My favourite character is Jo who is unruly and tempestuous and rails against the confines of poverty and the expectation that women should conform to the domestic role expected of them rather than pursue any
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Fiona Morgan

Today I’m delighted to welcome thriller novelist Fiona Morgan. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Client by John Grisham. “The book I have picked for Porridge and Cream is The Client by John Grisham.  I first read this book in 1995 whilst studying my higher English.  I had tried other books, but none were catching me, so much so I can’t even remember what ones I tried.  My aunt recommended John Grisham, so I bought The Client and loved it, from then on I was hooked. “When I feel I haven’t had a book grab me in a while, or if I’m in a reading slump, I turn to this book, which is normally about once a year or more if I need it.  One thing that draws me back to the book is the emotions in the book and how they have changed as I grew.  What I take from the book and how I relate to the characters has changed over the years, it is a brand new book every time I read it. When I first read it I identified with Mark, the main character, but as now that I have my own family I identify with
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Simon Fairfax

Today I’m delighted to welcome spy novelist Simon Fairfax. His ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Heller with a Gun by Louis L’Amour. “The book is called Heller with a Gun by Louis L’Amour. His books number 192 and 46 were made into films. “I first read it when I was about fifteen. I have always loved westerns, but this is probably the best western I have ever read. I bought it because I like the author’s style and stories. He is above all a great storyteller. I bought it in the winter and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has a great sense of ‘place’ with writing truly evocative of a cold, frozen climate. I read it every winter and never tire of it. It would in reality be strange to read it in the summer. “The lead is a great character and typifies a dying breed, with strong values, pitting himself against the wilderness and evil. Living by a code of honour that will one day fade as he inevitably will. The writing style is perfect and you can imagine exactly all the circumstances and places that the book takes you to. Everything he writes about exists and he inspired me to adopt the same
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Julie Ryan

Today I’m delighted to welcome romantic suspense novelist Julie Ryan. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Magus by John Fowles. “My ‘Porridge & Cream’ book that has served me well over the years is The Magus by John Fowles. I first came across this book whilst I was a student although it had been written much earlier in the 1960s. I was immediately transported to a remote Greek island as I followed Nick Urfe’s journey. John Fowles vividly portrays the magic and mystery of Greece that must have resonated with me as my first job after graduating was as a language teacher in Greece and thus began my lifelong love affair with the country. “Whenever I need to recapture those halycon days of my youth, I pick up the book for some instant sunshine; a great pick-me-up during the British winter. It doesn’t matter how many times I read this book, I always find something new in it to surprise me. To some people, it may seem a bit dated now but I just love the language and the sense of place as well as the way the millionaire plays with Nicolas’s mind until it becomes more than a game and a
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: RV Biggs

Today I’m delighted to welcome mystery writer RV Biggs. His ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. “I first read the book as a child, which is a very long time ago, so would be in the 1960s. I’d hazard a guess at 1966 when I was nine or ten years old and probably as a book we were given to read at school. I recall having my own hardbound copy a little later, given to me as a present, but one of my uncles borrowed it to read to my cousin. After a while I never saw it again. Many, many years later my sister-in-law brought me a new hardbound copy as a birthday present and this is the copy I still have.  “I’ve read Wind in the Willows many times over the years and mostly when nothing else seems to appeal. It draws me in because of the childhood magic of it… animals having adventures… the Wild Wood… but also because of the setting and style. Kenneth Grahame describes the landscapes with exquisite perfection, setting the scenes of the seasons so that I’m there… inside his world. I believe that the description of
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Julie Christine Johnson

Today I’m delighted to welcome novelist Julie Christine Johnson. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. “Several years ago I created an annual tradition for myself: in December, as the light fades earlier each day and I retreat from the expectations and demands of modern commercial holidays, longing only for the renewal of Solstice, I soothe my tired and cold spirit with a reread of a work by one of my most treasured authors, Jane Austen. Her six completed novels — Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion — form a canon of comfort and delight on my bookshelves. Among all these timeless treasures, it is that charming and soulful comedy of manners, Pride and Prejudice, I most anticipate. Truthfully, I rotate it in every couple of years. Each time I read the opening line, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife” my entire being relaxes into a smile of familiarity and joy. Pride and Prejudice is the story of intelligent, independent Elizabeth Bennet, the eldest daughter of five in a family of modest
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Julie Stock

Today I’m delighted to welcome romance author Julie Stock. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. “My ‘Porridge and Cream’ book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. The first time I read it was at secondary school, when I was about 14 years old, in the late 1970s. I went to a girls’ school and romantic love seemed very elusive and also illusory. What captivated me about the story was that it seemed so real. My school was nothing like Jane’s experience, thank goodness, although I might have felt like it was at the time but I appreciated the truth of the story, like the author was treating the reader with respect by drawing characters to whom life had not been kind, who were quite ordinary in their way, but had the potential to be extraordinary by their actions. It was many years before I picked the book up again but I find myself moved to reread it regularly these days, especially when the real world becomes a bit too superficial and I need an escape to a world where people rose above their suffering and survived despite it because of the power of love. I
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Graeme Cumming

Today I’m delighted to welcome thriller writer Graeme Cumming. His ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Eagle in the Sky by Wilbur Smith. “My Porridge & Cream book is Eagle in the Sky by Wilbur Smith. I can’t remember exactly when I first read it, but suspect around 1977. I’d started reading him after seeing Shout at the Devil at the cinema. A week later, I spotted the book in my local library (remember those?), picked it up and became hooked on Smith for years after. Eagle in the Sky was just another I picked up to read, but it’s the one that stayed with me. “I don’t read it often, probably once every five or six years, the last time about three years ago. I remember being surprised at how dated some of the dialogue came across, but it was written in the early ‘70s! Even so, I still enjoyed it. There are no particular circumstances that prompt me to read it, but, unusually for me, once in a while I like to go back to it: I know I’m going to love it, and I’ve usually forgotten enough to be surprised. I have bought this book as a present
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My Porridge & Cream read: Margaret Skea

Today I’m delighted to welcome historical novelist Margaret Skea. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. “When I was a child, the lady next door had a wonderful library of children’s books and I could borrow as many as I wanted. So over about 18 months I read lots of full sets, including all 12 Swallows and Amazons and the 10 ‘Anne’ books. Both series have remained favourites, but if I have to make a choice of just one it has to be the first of the ‘Anne’ books. “We used to foster children, and Anne of Green Gables was a wonderful story either to read to them or watch with them. It has so many resonances for their circumstances and such a positive ending. I vividly remember one child stopping me half-way through, saying, ‘Please tell me this ends well, or I can’t bear to hear any more.’ The plot involves an elderly couple who, intending to adopt a boy to help on their farm, are sent a girl instead. Despite their initial misgivings and her capacity for getting into scrapes, they keep her. I usually re-read the book or watch the film
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Toni Jenkins

Today I’m delighted to welcome novelist Toni Jenkins. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. “My sister-in-law heard about a book in early 2008 she thought I might like and gave me a copy of Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It has become a precious companion and the book that I turn to most. It always spurs me on to make courageous decisions in my life. It’s about an American woman in her thirties who decides her perfectly normal life is unfulfilling and leaves her husband and home to find herself abroad, travelling to Italy to find love in food, to India for enlightenment, and to Bali for love and peace. I re-read it, or at least parts of it, at least once a year. It’s one of those books where you feel as if you’re reading your own thoughts. There’s a real comfort in reading again how Elizabeth overcame her challenges. I also love the way she uses language so I get a double-whammy of the feel-good factor every time I delve back in. I particularly enjoy the first third of the book as it’s based in Italy, my favourite country. It’s also
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Lev D Lewis

Today I’m delighted to welcome debut crime novelist Lev D Lewis. His ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. “Confession, at the risk of being branded an imposter and ritually kicked off your blog: I don’t really have a Porridge & Cream read; the last thing I feel like doing when I’m ‘tired, ill, or out-of-sorts’ is staring at words. If anything, I find those states more creative than consuming; I just want to bury myself under the duvet and let my mind take over. I do have a long list of books I want to re-read, headed by Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (I’ve studied Classical Civilization since I first read it, and it would be interesting to reread with that extra bit of knowledge) but my TBR pile tends to win out. There’s only one book I’ve read more than once for pure pleasure, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, so I present that as my Porridge & Cream book. It about an unnamed British huntsman who aims his rifle at an unnamed foreign dictator, just for laughs (apparently). He’s chased back to England, retreats into an underground lair and is trapped there by his pursuer.
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Carol Cooper

Today I’m delighted to welcome romance novelist Carol Cooper. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Please Don’t Eat the Daisies by Jean Kerr. “My ‘Porridge and Cream’ book is Please Don’t Eat the Daisies by American writer Jean Kerr. First published in 1957, it is now out of print but a few copies are still available. I first read it in the 1960s, when I was perhaps about twelve. While I don’t remember the exact circumstances, it was my mother’s paperback copy, costing a princely 35 cents. I do recall that my mother and I had recently arrived in the United States and were living in a studio apartment in Washington, DC, while she struggled to make ends meet. The book is a series of articles on Jean Kerr’s life as a playwright and parent, and each of the pieces made me roar with laughter at a time when real life wasn’t that funny. When I first read the book, I found it hugely entertaining on such subjects as diets, doctors, family, fashion, moving house, and the rest of everyday suburban life. It was only decades later that I could identify with Kerr’s situation as a writer working from home,
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Catherine Hokin

Today I’m delighted to welcome historical novelist Catherine Hokin. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Wise Children by Angela Carter. “I am not a great re-reader of books, I have enough trouble keeping up with the growing list of ones I still haven’t got round to, but Wise Children is a wonderful exception. I first encountered Angela Carter when someone gave me a copy of The Magic Toyshop at university and I fell in love with her off-centre way for looking at the world. When Wise Children came out in 1991 I was newly at home with my first child, somewhat in shock and needing an escape route to a world very different from the one I was muddling my way through.The novel focuses on the twin Chance sisters, Dora and Nora, their mad theatrical family and their romp through musical hall, early Hollywood and aging disgracefully. It combines fairy tales, Shakespeare, magical realism and brilliant characters and is funny, sad and wicked in equal measure. I have read it many times, it is so multi-layered there is always something new to find, and am usually drawn back to it when I want to be reminded how good writing can
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Categories: Book Love, On Writing, and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Linda Huber

Today I’m delighted to welcome thriller novelist Linda Huber. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is A Cry in the Night by Mary Higgins Clark. “I have a few ‘Porridge & Cream’ books, but I think the creamiest has to be A Cry in the Night by Mary Higgins Clark. It came out in the early 80s, so I must have bought it then – I devoured all the Mary Higgins Clark books as soon as they were published. At that time, I was young physiotherapist, living in Switzerland, far away from ‘home’ in Glasgow. The main character in this book really struck a chord in my heart – Jenny, a devoted mum to her girls, trying to do her best for them under impossible circumstances. I suppose I re-read this book when I feel the need for a little mother-love in my life! My own mum is gone now and I’m mum myself to two boys – and still in Switzerland, which is now ‘home’. The thing about having two home countries is, you have neither 100%. I have dual nationality, I speak two languages, my life is here in the middle of Europe – but Scotland still has a
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Renita D’Silva

Today I’m delighted to welcome Indian novelist Renita D’Silva. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is the classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. “The book I keep returning to time and again is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I love every character – Boo Radley, Jem, Atticus, and, especially, Scout: her innocence, her wonderful narrative voice through which she reveals more to the reader than she herself understands. I first read the condensed version as a teen. Being a voracious reader, I could never find enough to read in the village in India where I grew up. There was a small library – a couple of shelves of worn books with falling apart pages, woodlice ridden spines, crumbly to the touch and smelling yellow, of rot and stale lives. Having read each book multiple times, I was desperate for something different when I found this fat book wedged behind the shelves, forgotten and unloved. I dusted it off, thrilled to have something new to read. I was ecstatic when I discovered that it was a Readers Digest anthology of four condensed books; one of them, To Kill a Mockingbird. I read the first line (they left that
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Laura Wilkinson

Today I’m delighted to welcome contemporary novelist Laura Wilkinson. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is the classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. “It’s so long ago I cannot recall with any degree of accuracy when I first read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The crumbling copy, pictured with my newer edition, was always around; it was my grandmother’s, then my mother’s. I was fascinated by the colour plates scattered throughout and would stare at them long before I could read the words. My hunch is that I was eight or nine – certainly during a period when I devoured Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series! Whilst I forgot Blyton’s characters and plots almost instantly, Mary Lennox, Colin and Dickon have stayed close. An angry, lonely orphan is sent to live in a remote manor with a walled, prohibited, garden. The garden is the catalyst for her transformation, and in cahoots with a local boy she uncovers the secret not only of the garden but of the crying which wakes her every night. The story resonated then and still does. Each time I find something new to admire. I turn to it when I need to be reminded that
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Kate Frost

Today I’m delighted to welcome women’s novelist Kate Frost. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is the classic Chocolat by Joanne Harris. “To be honest, I have more than one ‘Porridge and Cream’ book, and they’re all quite different, but the book I’d happily pick up when feeling ill or run down is Joanne Harris’ Chocolat – a delicious and delightful character-driven novel centred around single mother and chocolatier Vianne Rocher and her young daughter, Anouk. I first read it over a summer, not long after it had been published, so around 2000 or 2001. I’d recently moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) and we’d been to Greece together to meet his parents and the whole of his extended Greek family, so a book set in a French village that immersed its characters in local life with the focus being on food and delicious chocolate creations resonated with me and my first experiences of a Greek family and their abundance of delicious food. I’ve only read Chocolat two or three times (like I said it’s one of a number of favourites), but it is the perfect book to get pulled into when I’m feeling down. The most recent time I read
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.