Today I’m delighted to welcome novelist Jane Davis. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy.
“My list of favourite novels may change, but it is always topped by Pat Conroy’s, The Prince of Tides. Ignore the terrible film version – the book has everything. Family secrets, flawed characters, a doomed love affair.
“I read it for the first time many years before I contemplated writing, but it was books like this (and here I include the novels of John Irving and Michael Chabon) that must have sowed the seed.
“The first thing to say is that my choice is not your typical comfort read. The quote ‘We read to know that we are not alone’ is attributed to at least three different people. Perhaps that’s because it’s a universal truth. I find myself drawn to books about misfits and underdogs. (My latest ‘new favourite book’, Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession, considers how gentle people survive in a world that is fast-paced and competitive.)
“The Prince of Tides has the power to transport the reader from the very first line.
My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my point of call.
“We know immediately that it is a novel about place. In fact, it’s a story where the setting is key. What unfolds in this epic and multi-layered family saga couldn’t have happened anywhere else. We know that a man is torn. Place is part of the narrator. It’s impossible for him to separate himself from it, and his family is part of its history. He is damaged, and it pains him to remain, but he cannot tear himself away.
I grew up slowly beside the tides and marshes of Colleton.
“To me, those lines are hypnotic. They seem to be saying, ‘Breathe. Pace yourself.’ Trust is established – or lost – so quickly. I can hear the narrator’s voice. He’s speaking directly to me. I don’t yet know the name Tom Wingo, but already I’m committed to accompanying him wherever his journey takes him. It is that simple.
“Because the story is told partly through conversations with Tom’s sister’s Savannah’s psychiatrist, it’s a story in which cause and effect is very much in evidence. In order to save his sister, Tom must break the promise that his mother extracted from her three children: never to reveal what happened on the island that night a man they refer to as “Callanwolde” escaped from prison. The call to action happens at a point when Tom has just learned that his wife is having an affair with a colleague, and so we meet him at what is already a low ebb. This may be a challenging read, but it’s also a story of survival, healing, honour and redemption. There is a sense that order is restored, and that is where the ‘comfort’ comes from.
“Odd though it may seem, I have never read another book by Pat Conroy. The Prince of Tides is so perfect, I’d be afraid of being disappointed. Instead, I return to it time and time again and never fail to uncover something that I’ve missed.”
Jane Davis’s Bio
After her first novel Half-Truths and White Lies won an award established to find ‘the next Joanne Harris’, it took Jane a little while to work out that all she really wanted to be was a slightly shinier version of herself. Seven further novels followed, which straddle contemporary, historical, literary and women’s fiction genres, and have earned her comparisons to authors such as Kate Atkinson, Maggie O’Farrell and Jodi Picoult. Jane’s favourite description of fiction is ‘made-up truth’.
Jane Davis’s latest book
It has taken conviction to right the wrongs.
It will take courage to learn how to live again.
For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances.
Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unravelled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives.
If only it were that simple.
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. Do you have a favourite read which you return to again and again? If so, please send me a message.
Discover the ‘Porridge & Cream’ books of these authors:-
Rob V Biggs loves ‘Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame
Linda Huber loves ‘A Cry in the Night’ by Mary Higgins Clark
Sue Moorcroft loves ‘A Town Like Alice’ by Nevil Shute
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Why does author @janedavisauthor re-read A PRINCE OF TIDES by PAT CONROY? #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Br via @SandraDanby