Archives for 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.

My Porridge & Cream read: Rosie Dean

Today I’m delighted to welcome romantic comedy novelist Rosie Dean. “The book I have chosen is special because, after reading it, I knew I wanted to become a writer too. I first read Prudence by Jilly Cooper when I was swotting for my finals. My housemates and I decided we couldn’t survive the exams without some light relief so we joined the local library and, between us, took out twelve books at a time. We mainly chose Mills & Boon romances because they were easy to read in a couple of coffee breaks – and provided wonderful light relief from our studies. At the appointed time, we would gather in one of our rooms, coffee, biscuits and books to hand, and read for half an hour, occasionally sharing a juicy passage for further entertainment. One day, Prudence was in the mix and I was hooked. I don’t know how often I’ve read it – maybe five or six times. I have no idea what prompts me to pick it up – anymore than I know why I call a friend after months of silence. But I always know the comfort I will feel amongst the eccentric Mulholland family and observing the
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Jane Cable

My guest today at ‘Porridge & Cream’ is novelist Jane Cable. “If I say that my Porridge & Cream book is Long Summer Day very few people will recognise the title. If I say it’s the first volume of RF Delderfield’s Horseman Riding By trilogy most readers will know exactly the book I mean.   In all honesty this book has been with me so long I can’t remember the first time I read it. What I do know is it was after the BBC made the TV series in 1978, which I didn’t watch, being far more interested in punk music. At a guess it was while I was studying for my A-levels or my degree. I’m pretty sure it was a library copy, but I asked my father to buy me the whole trilogy for Christmas. The reason they don’t match in the photograph [below] is because I lost Long Summer Day in a house move and my father replaced it for Christmas in 1988. I don’t often read books twice but A Horseman Riding By comes out if ever I’m ill. The last time was Christmas a few years ago when I caught flu and was too
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Rhoda Baxter

Today I’m delighted to welcome romantic novelist Rhoda Baxter. “My ‘Porridge and Cream’ book is actually a series: my Terry Pratchett collection. I started reading them when I was around 16. I had moved from Sri Lanka to Yorkshire and was very lonely. I was lucky enough to make a friend who suggested I try one of the Discworld books. I think he lent me The Colour of Magic. I borrowed the rest of the series from Halifax Central Library. I loved the puns and the pseudo-science jokes. When Mort came out, my Physics teacher told me that Terry was doing a book signing. My Dad took me all the way to Leeds to queue up and get my book signed. It was the first time I met a REAL author. At uni, I bonded with people who knew that a million to one chances happened nine out of ten times and that Klatchian coffee made you knurd. We used Pratchettisms as a verbal shorthand. I still can’t read the phrase ‘per capita’ for example, without mentally adding ‘if not, decapita could be arranged’. When Sir Terry died, I felt as though I’d lost someone I’d actually known. I read each book
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My ‘Porridge & Cream’ read: Shelley Weiner

Today I am pleased to welcome novelist, Shelley Weiner who will share her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read. “Tiring of a well-worn book is like outgrowing a friendship, or a fashion statement, or a taste for cheap confectionary – depressing but, sadly, a fact of life. We change, our tastes change, the priorities that seemed so immutable ten years ago can alter or become irrelevant And so, having scoured my bookshelves to find a ‘Porridge & Cream’ read, I had to conclude that the old faithfuls by the authors I chose (sorry Carol Shields, apologies Jane Smiley …) no longer moved me. I might have darted back to Dickens, to Austen, to Tolstoy, for classics of that calibre are beyond fatigue. Instead I consoled myself with a movie – the excellent screen adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn – and a large tub of popcorn. And as I sat in the darkness imbibing salty kernels and Irish angst, I recalled the spare beauty of Tóibín’s prose and resolved to return to the novel. Which I did. And – relief upon relief – it’s as I remembered it; as simple and quiet and engrossing as when I devoured it on publication eight years ago.
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My Porridge & Cream read: Lisa Devaney

Today I’m delighted to welcome clifi novelist Lisa Devaney who will share her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read. “As winter pends, and the leaves are turning beautifully vibrant colours, before they die off of the trees here in London, UK, I like the idea of turning to a comfort book, that can see me through the days that turn dark early and warm me up in the cold nights. When Sandra Danby invited me to blog about my ‘Porridge & Cream’ favourite book, I had a hard time, at first, picking just one that would qualify as the way she describes it as “It’s the book you turn to when you need a familiar read, when you are tired, ill, or out-of-sorts, where you know the story and love it.” “Some on my selection list included a non-fiction title of Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us, and the collected stories of Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, but ultimately, I feel I turn most often to the book, that bred the movie that I watch most often as a comfort film. Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep wins my pick for being my ‘Porridge & Cream’ novel. Published first
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My ‘Porridge & Cream’ read: Judith Field

Today I am pleased to welcome short story writer, Judith Field to share her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read. “My book is Anybody can do Anything by Betty Macdonald. I’d read her books The Egg and I (which, like the Curate’s egg, is good in parts) and The Plague and I (which I love), so when I saw Anybody in a second hand bookshop in 1981 for only 25p, I grabbed it. I re-read this funny and uplifting boot, with its brilliant character descriptions. when I need picking up, but I leave it long enough between reading that I can’t remember the text word for word. When I do read it, I feel a thrill of recognition, like meeting an old friend. Published in 1945, it’s a memoir of life in Seattle during the Depression, in the early to mid nineteen thirties. Betty leaves an unhappy marriage and, with her two small daughters, goes back to live with her quirky, warm, and supportive family of four sisters and a brother headed by Mother, who “with one folding chair and a plumber’s candle, could make the North Pole homey.”  Betty says “It’s a wonderful thing to know that you can come home any
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.

My ‘Porridge & Cream’ read: JG Harlond

Welcome to the first in a new series in which one author chooses his/her ‘Porridge & Cream’ book. What is a ‘Porridge & Cream’ book? It’s the book you turn to when you need a familiar read, when you are tired, ill, or out-of-sorts, where you know the story and love it. Where reading it is like slipping on your oldest, scruffiest slippers after walking for miles. Where does the name ‘Porridge & Cream’ come from? Cat Deerborn is a character in Susan Hill’s ‘Simon Serrailler’ detective series. Cat is a hard-worked GP, a widow with two children and she struggles from day-to-day. One night, after a particularly difficult day, she needs something familiar to read. From her bookshelf she selects Love in A Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford. Today I am pleased to welcome historical novelist, JG Harlond. “My ‘Porridge & Cream’ novels are the House of Níccolò series by the late Scots author Dorothy Dunnett. In the 1970s I became hooked on her 16th century Game of Kings series featuring the exquisite Francis Crawford of Lymond. Then in the 1980s, Dunnett began the 15th century House of Níccolò series about a flawed Flemish apprentice Claes, who becomes a Venetian banker
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Categories: Book Love and Porridge & Cream.