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 time from anywhere and just open the door and belong”. The title comes from the positive attitude of Betty’s sister, Mary, who spends her time finding jobs for her sisters (especially Betty), and Betty often winds up in uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, work situations.
The character descriptions are wonderful. The book is often contemplative, for example when the electricity is cut off because they can’t afford to pay the bill, but it’s never miserable or preachy. The final sentence, of Mary’s, is wonderful. Betty has just had her first book accepted and tells Mary about her “strange, enchanted feeling”. Mary says “You just feel successful, but imagine how I feel. All of a sudden my big lies have started coming true!”
About The Book of Judith by Judith Field [Rampant Loon Press]
The Book of Judith is a collection of 16 short stories: sometimes funny, sometimes poignant; sometimes whimsical and fantastic; sometimes romantic, and sometimes disturbing, and sometimes both in the same story!
There’s no better endorsement than that from a reader. One Amazon customer said: “A collection of tales of the fantastic that manage to be sweet, poignant and laugh out loud funny all at the same time.”
Judith Field’s Bio
Judith Field lives in London, UK. She is the daughter of writers and learned how to agonize over fiction submissions at her mother and father’s knees. She’s a pharmacist, medical writer, editor and indexer, and in 2009 she made a New Year resolution to start writing fiction and get published within the year. Pretty soon she realized how unrealistic that was but, in fact, it sort of worked: she got a slot to write a weekly column in a local paper shortly before Christmas of 2009 and that ran for a several years. She still writes occasional feature articles for the paper. She has two daughters, a son, a granddaughter and a grandson. Her fiction, mainly speculative, has appeared in a variety of publications, mainly in the USA. When she’s not working or writing, she swims and sings, not always at the same time. She speaks five languages and can say, “Please publish this story” in all of them.
Judith Field’s links
Luna Station Quarterly blog
The Mill Hillbillies blog
Buy The Book of Judith here.
For more about Judith’s publisher, Rampant Loon Press and its Stupefying Stories series, click here.
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 via the contact form here.
‘Anybody Can Do Anything’ by Betty Macdonald [UK: University of Washington Press]
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Why does author Judith Field love love ANYBODY CAN DO ANYTHING by Betty Macdonald? #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1MU