My Porridge & Cream read: Paula Harmon

Today I’m delighted to welcome murder mystery author Paula Harmon. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald. This is the second Betty MacDonald book featured in the series following Anybody can do Anything which was chosen by Judith Field in 2015. Read what Judith said here.

“Dad handed me Onions in the Stew by Betty MacDonald when I was an adult saying, ‘you must read this’. Feeling rebellious, I left it on the shelf for a while. Besides, this copy is old and a bit musty, its paper cover long gone. But one day I came across it, remembered how funny (even when poignant) her other books were and took it down.

“Now I read it at least once a year. Why? Because although it covers a period of time I didn’t experience and a place I’ve never visited, it is one of those books that describes things that never change, finds humour in the most difficult of situations and makes me laugh. Also, it takes place on an island, and I have a soft spot for islands.

Onions in the Stew starts during WWII as Betty seeks a home in Seattle for herself, her new husband, two pre-teen daughters, a cat and a dog. Finally, the MacDonalds hear about a house with its own beach on Vashon Island. Who among us won’t have met schmoozing estate agents; started packing with such organisation and ending up stuffing things in anywhere; endured strange neighbours, guests who won’t leave, dubious handymen. Even more recognisable, despite the passing of over seventy years are Betty’s two daughters as they drag the whole family through the trauma of adolescence.

“When I first read the book my children were still small. Now they are seventeen and nineteen. I think reading Onions in the Stew was one of those things that helped me put some perspective on their teenage years and find the humour in them. I haven’t many books which make me chuckle but this is one of them. Old and musty as it is [below], it is definitely a keeper.”

Paula Harmon’s Bio
Paula Harmon, is a Chichester University graduate who has lived in Dorset since 2005. She is a civil servant, married with two children. Paula has several writing projects underway and wonders where the housework fairies are, because the house is a mess and she can’t think why.

Paula Harmon’s Latest Book
Paula HarmonIt’s AD 190. Romano-Briton Lucretia is determined that her get-rich-quick scheme will not be undermined by minor things like her husband’s death, dubious imposters or her married daughter’s fascination with a celebrity gladiator. But when the deaths start to mount up, wise-woman Tryssa starts to ask awkward questions.
‘Murder Britannica’ by Paula Harmon [UK: January Press]

Paula Harmon’s Links
Amazon Author page

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.

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.

Paula Harmon


Onions in the Stew’ by Betty MacDonald [UK: George Mann Books]

Discover the ‘Porridge & Cream’ books of these authors:-
Rachel Dove chooses ‘Dead Until Dark’ by Charlaine Harris
Claire Dyer chooses ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Burrows
Julie Christine Johnson chooses ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Why does murder mystery writer @PaulaHarmon789 re-read ONIONS IN THE STEW by Betty MacDonald each year#books via @SandraDanby

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