Archives for 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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Categories: Porridge & Cream.

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.

My Porridge & Cream read: Helen J Christmas

Today I’m delighted to welcome thriller novelist Helen J Christmas. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Camellia by Leslie Pearse. “I started this book in 1998 during a very wet Glastonbury Festival; I remember curling up in my sleeping bag, feeling utterly miserable as the rain splashed around the campsite. Yet from the very first page I was quickly absorbed in the story. Set in my home county of Sussex, the saga begins with a young girl who is orphaned at 15, when her mother is discovered drowned. Camellia is an unhappy, neglected child, yet her security is ripped away when she stumbles across a secret hoard of letters among her mother’s belongings. After realising her entire childhood has been based on lies, she takes off to London to start a new life. Beautifully written with powerful story lines, Camellia is as much a ‘coming of age’ story as a romantic drama. At the start of the book, she is an overweight teenager but blossoms into a glamorous young woman. Caught up in the sizzling 60s of London, her life turns into a roller coaster. She is abandoned by a controlling drug dealer boyfriend, but discovers a loyal friend who becomes
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Tracey Sinclair

Today I’m delighted to welcome vampire novelist Tracey Sinclair. “First, a disclaimer: my usual comfort read is generally Terry Pratchett, whose novels I regularly turn to if I’m feeling low or just want a bit of a ‘palette cleanse’ between reads – I’m a big fan of the humanity, humour and decency in his books and they invariably boost my mood. But Rhoda Baxter beat me to that! So I’m going with another choice: Dangerous Liaisons by Choderlos de Laclos – a book I love so much I named one of my characters after the author. I studied it at university in the 90s (it’s one of the few books I’ve read in French and English, back when I was capable of reading more than a menu in French!). The edition I prefer is the Penguin Classic, translated by PWK Stone. I probably go back to it every couple of years, more if I’m prompted by seeing the film on TV. I usually give myself long enough to forget the intricacies of the plot (which is far more complicated and satisfying than the movie) so I can enjoy its richness again. It’s a book to read when I want to be amused and
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Categories: Book Love, On Writing and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream Read: Jane Lambert

Today I’m delighted to welcome contemporary women’s novelist & actress Jane Lambert, whose Porridge & Cream book is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” When I was about fifteen my mum gave me a copy of her favourite book, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It is my Porridge & Cream read and makes me think of her. The book opens in Monte Carlo, where the heroine (we never know her name) meets and marries widower Maxim de Winter after a whirlwind courtship. He whisks her away to Manderley, his Gothic mansion in Cornwall. The new bride soon discovers there are dark secrets lurking in Manderley and that the memory of the first Mrs de Winter, the beautiful and witty Rebecca, is very much alive. Maxim spends more and more time away on business, leaving the second Mrs de Winter alone with her insecurities and the creepy housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who resents her taking the place of her adored Rebecca. When the boat in which Rebecca supposedly drowned is raised, we learn that things are not as they seem: the perfect Rebecca was promiscuous and wicked and made Maxim’s life a misery, driving him to shoot
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Sue Moorcroft

Today I’m delighted to welcome contemporary women’s novelist Sue Moorcroft. “I wish I still had my dad’s copy of A Town Like Alice. It was one of those Reader’s Digest leather-bound books, bright red with gold. Sadly, I lent it to someone. A Town Like Alice was the first adult book I read. I was nine. I watched the film one afternoon with Dad and he told me he had the book. As a bookworm, when the film finished the obvious thing to do was locate it in the bookcase and carry it off to my room. If I close my eyes I can still see the red ribbon to mark reading progress and the dark blue and white pattern on the inner cover. In A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute taught me a lot about storytelling. He showed me that a story arc doesn’t have to contain a mystery (Famous Five) or a school (Malory Towers) and can be set against the ugliness of war and yet contain one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read. That love can triumph over seemingly impossible odds, even over man’s inhumanity to man. It taught me a lot about characters having
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Claire Dyer

Today I’m delighted to welcome poet and romance novelist Claire Dyer. “My Porridge & Cream book is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows. I read this book when it was first published and return to it for a multitude of reasons. I guess the main one, however, is that it’s essentially about good people and reading it reminds me that there’s more goodness in the world than sometimes is apparent. The novel is set in 1946 and tells the story of author Juliet Ashton who stumbles into a correspondence with Dawsey Adams of Guersney. In this respect it reminds me of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (another favourite). Dawsey is a member of The Guersney Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and, as letters fly back and forward between them, other members of the Society and Juliet’s friends and admirers in England, much is revealed about these good-hearted people and the lives of those who lived in Guernsey under German Occupation. On the surface it’s a light-hearted and easy read. The letters are jaunty, wry and funny and the correspondents nearly always put a positive spin on their hardships and
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Categories: Book Love, On Writing and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Rachel Dove

Today I’m delighted to welcome romance novelist Rachel Dove. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris which Rachel summarizes as ‘telepathic waitress meets vampires and shapeshifters in the deep south of Bon Temps, finds love and the answers to her very existence.’ “It was 2009. My second baby in fourteen months had not long been born, and having two boys under two while my husband worked long hours was hard work. I was studying for a degree and writing in my spare time, with dreams of being an author and teacher when the children were older. My days consisted of looking after my children and the house, staying awake and reading to escape, to relax. I remember seeing an advert for the new HBO True Blood series, and seeing it was based on a book series. I immediately went online, newborn in one arm, and found the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. I immediately bought the full set of what she had written so far, and devoured them. They kept me sane for weeks, and made my world feel less small, more exciting than nappy changes and nipple cream. Night feeds meant pages of vampires
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.