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 every year and I still get a lump in my throat when we come to a particular point. (Anyone who has read the book will know the incident I’m referring to. For anyone who hasn’t, you’ll recognize it when you come to it.) That it still moves me after all these years and many re-reads, is a testament to the emotional power of the story.
The central character is key to my love of the book. Perhaps because, aside from her situation and her red hair, in many ways growing up I was Anne. I’ve done the equivalent of smashing a slate on Gilbert Blythe’s head, and rarely, if ever, refused a dare – including walking along the ridge of a garage roof. I only stopped talking when I was reading, spent a lot of time living within my imagination and wished I had a more exotic name!”
Margaret Skea’s Bio
Margaret Skea grew up in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’, but now lives in Scotland. Her passion is for authentic, atmospheric fiction, whether historical or contemporary. An award-winning novelist and short story writer, her credits include the Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best 1st Time Novelist 2014 (Turn of the Tide), and a longlisting in the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016 (A House Divided). Her short stories have won or been placed in a number of competitions, including: Fish, Mslexia, Winchester, Rubery and Neil Gunn.
Margaret Skea’s latest book
Katharina: Deliverance is Margaret’s first work of biographical fiction. It is based on the early life of Katharina von Bora, the escaped nun who became Martin Luther’s wife, and seeks to bring this influential, but little-known character out of the shadows in which she has remained hidden for five hundred years.
‘Katharina’ by Margaret Skea [UK: Sanderling Books]
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 here.
‘Anne of Green Gables’ by LM Montgomery [UK: Puffin Classics]
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Why does #author @margaretskea1 re-read ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by LM Montgomery once a year? https://wp.me/p5gEM4-2Zx via @SandraDanby #amreading