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My Porridge & Cream read… Amanda Huggins @troutiemcfish #shortstories

Today I’m delighted to welcome short story writer Amanda Huggins. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

“There was strong competition for my Porridge and Cream choice, and I’d just like to mention two of the worthy runners-up, both of which I return to time and time again. The wonderful Jane Eyre needs no introduction or explanation, and has been in my top ten since I was a teenager. Another contender was The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, which I’ve loved since first reading it in the 1980s. A beautifully written story of a life lost to duty; unsentimental and utterly heartbreaking. But my final choice has to be The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, one of the all-time bestselling – and most translated – books ever published.

“I own a signed copy of The Remains of the Day as well as a Folio hardback, and I also have two copies of Jane Eyre – though sadly neither of them are signed! But I have to confess to owning a rather extravagant seven copies of The Little Prince. In my defence, they’re all in different languages – however, as I’m only fluent in English, it’s a pretty poor defence!”

Amanda Huggins

Amanda’s seven copies of The Little Prince

“For those unfamiliar with The Little Prince, the narrator is a pilot who has crashed in the desert. A young boy – nicknamed ‘the little prince’ – appears unexpectedly out of nowhere, and while the pilot repairs his plane, the prince describes his tiny home planet – asteroid B612 – complete with volcanoes and baobab trees, and recounts the tales of his travels to other planets. It draws on de Saint-Exupéry’s own experiences as a pilot in the Sahara, as well as including a character (the vain rose) based on his wife, Consuelo. With great wisdom and poignancy, and accompanied by his own beautiful illustrations, de Saint-Exupéry teaches us about friendship, loneliness, love and loss, about human frailties and greed. The beauty and sadness of the prince’s encounter with the fox always leaves me in tears, and includes one of my favourite lines: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Amanda HugginsBUY THE BOOK

Amanda’s Bio
Amanda Huggins is the award-winning author of the short story collection, Separated From the Sea (Retreat West Books), which received a Special Mention at the 2019 Saboteur Awards. Her second collection, Scratched Enamel Heart, contains the Costa prize-winning story, ‘Red’, and was launched on 27th May. She has also published a flash fiction collection, Brightly Coloured Horses (Chapeltown Books), and a poetry collection, The Collective Nouns for Birds (Maytree Press). As well as winning third prize in the 2018 Costa Short Story Award, she has been placed and listed in Fish, Bridport, Bath, the Alpine Fellowship Writing Award and the Colm Toibin International Short Story Award. Her travel writing has also won several awards, notably the BGTW New Travel Writer of the Year in 2014. Her first novella, All Our Squandered Beauty, will be published in 2021 by Victorina Press.

Amanda grew up on the North Yorkshire coast, moved to London in the 1990s, and now lives in West Yorkshire.

Amanda’s links

Amanda’s latest book
Amanda HugginsA lonely woman spends a perfect night with a stranger, yet is their connection enough to make her realise life is worth living? Maya, a refugee, wears a bracelet strung with charms that are a lifeline to her past; when the past catches up with her, she has a difficult decision to make. Rowe’s life on the Yorkshire coast is already mapped out for him, but when there is an accident at the steelworks he knows he has to flee from an intolerable future. In the Costa prize-winning ‘Red’, Mollie is desperate to leave Oakridge Farm and her abusive stepfather, to walk free with the stray dog she has named Hal. These are stories filled with yearning and hope, the search for connection and the longing to escape. They transport the reader from India to Japan, from mid-west America to the north-east coast of England, from New York to London. Battered, bruised, jaded or jilted, the human heart somehow endures.

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:-
Ivy Logan’s choice is ‘Reckless’ by Cornelia Funke
Lev D Lewis chooses ‘Rogue Male’ by Geoffrey Household
Wise Children by Angela Carter is chosen by Catherine Hokin

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Why does short story author @troutiemcfish re-read THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4CR via @SandraDanby

Great Opening Paragraph 125… ‘Beloved’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom. The women in the house knew it and so did the children. For years each put up with the spite in his own way, but by 1873 Sethe and her daughter Denver were its only victims. The grandmother, Baby Suggs, was dead, and the sons, Howard and Buglar, had runaway by the time they were thirteen years old – as soon as merely looking in a mirror shattered it (that was the signal for Buglar); as soon as two tiny hand prints appeared in the cake (that was it for Howard). Neither boy waited to see more; another kettleful of chickpeas smoking in a heap on the floor; soda crackers crumbled and strewn in a line next to the doorsill.” Toni Morrison
‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
The Ashes of London’ by Andrew Taylor 
The Garden of Evening Mists’ by Tan Twan Eng 
Queen Camilla’ by Sue Townsend

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
#FirstPara BELOVED by Toni Morrison #amwriting https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4ec via @SandraDanby

Great Opening Paragraph 123… ‘The Ashes of London’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“The noise was the worst. Not the crackling of the flames, not the explosions and the clatter of falling buildings, not the shouting and the endless beating of drums and the groans and cries of the crowd: it was the howling of the fire. It roared its rage. It was the voice of the Great Beast itself.”
‘The Ashes of London’ by Andrew Taylor, #1 Fire of London Andrew TaylorBUY THE BOOK

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
‘Personal’ by Lee Child
Back When We Were Grown Ups’ by Anne Tyler 
The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE ASHES OF LONDON by Andrew Taylor #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Jn via @SandraDanby

Great Opening Paragraph 122… ‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’ #amwriting #FirstPara

‘Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.’
‘The Heart’s Invisible Furies’ by John Boyne John BoyneBUY THE BOOK

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
‘The Garden of Evening Mists’ by Tan Twan Eng 
‘The Children Act’ by Ian McEwan
‘Couples’ by John Updike

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES by @john_boyne #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Jk via @SandraDanby

Great Opening Paragraph 121… ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ #amwriting #FirstPara

Ernest Hemingway“He lay flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees. The mountainside sloped gently where he lay; but below it was steep and he could see the dark of the oiled road winding through the pass. There was a stream alongside the road and far down the pass he saw a mill beside the stream and the falling water of the dam, white in the summer sunlight.”
‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ by Ernest Hemingway

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
Queen Camilla’ by Sue Townsend 90
Sacred Hearts’ by Sarah Dunant 10
Jack Maggs’ by Peter Carey 76

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS by Ernest Hemingway #amwriting https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3JG via @SandraDanby

Great Opening Paragraph 120… ‘The Pursuit of Love’ #amwriting #FirstPara

Nancy Mitford“There is a photograph in existence of Aunt Sadie and her six children sitting round the tea-table at Alconleigh. The table is situated, as it was, is now, and ever shall be, in the hall, in front of a huge open fire of logs. Over the chimney-piece plainly visible in the photograph hangs an entrenching tool, with which, in 1915, Uncle Matthew had whacked to death eight Germans one by one as they crawled out of a dug-out. It is still covered with blood and hairs, an object of fascination to us as children. In the photograph Aunt Sadie’s face, always beautiful, appears strangely round, her hair strangely fluffy, and her clothes strangely dowdy, but it is unmistakably she who sits there with Robin, in oceans of lace, lolling in on knee. She seems uncertain what to do with his head, and the presence of Nanny waiting to take him away is felt though not seen. The other children, between Louisa’s eleven and Matt’s two years, sit around the table in party dresses or frilly bibs, holding cups or mugs according to age, all of them gazing at the camera with large eyes opened wide by the flash, and all looking as if butter would not melt in their round pursed-up mouths. There they are, held like flies, in the amber of that moment – click goes the camera and on goes life; the minutes, the days, the years, the decades, taking them further and further from that happiness and promise of youth, from the hopes Aunt Sadie must have had for them, and rom the dreams they dreamed for themselves. I often think there is nothing quite so poignantly sad as old family groups.”
‘The Pursuit of Love’ by Nancy Mitford

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
‘The Long Drop’ by Louisa Mina 
Original Sin’ by PD James 
Lucky You’ by Carl Hiassen 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE PURSUIT OF LOVE by Nancy Mitford #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3JC via @SandraDanby

Great Opening Paragraph 119… ‘Peter Pan’ #amwriting #FirstPara

JM Barrie“All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up. And the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!” This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.”
‘Peter Pan’ by JM Barrie

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
A Month in the Country’ by JL Carr 
These Foolish Things’ by Deborah Moggach 
Far From the Madding Crowd’ by Thomas Hardy 

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
PETER PAN by JM Barrie #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Jw via @SandraDanby

Great Opening Paragraph 118… ‘The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty’ #amwriting #FirstPara

Sebastian Barry“In the middle of the lonesome town, at the back of John Street, in the third house from the end, there is a little room. For this small bracket in the long paragraph of the street’s history, it belongs to Eneas McNulty. All about him the century has just begun, a century some of which he will endure, but none of which will belong to him. There are all the broken continents of the earth, there is the town park named after Father Moran, with its forlorn roses – all equal to Eneas at five, and nothing his own, but that temporary little room. The dark linoleum curls at the edge where it meets the dark wall. There is a pewter jug on the bedside table that likes to hoard the sun and moon on its curve. There is a tall skinny wardrobe with an ancient hatbox on top, dusty, with or without a hat, he does not know. A room perfectly attuned to him, perfectly tempered, with the long spinning of time perfect and patterned in the bright windowframe, the sleeping of sunlight on the dirty leaves of the maple, the wars of the sparrows and the blue tits for the net of suet his mother ties in the tree, the angry rain that puts its narrow fingers in through the putty, the powerful sudden seaside snow that never sits, the lurch of the dark and the utter merriment of mornings.”
The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty’ by Sebastian Barry

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
The Slaves of Solitude’ by Patrick Hamilton
Such a Long Journey’ by Rohinton Mistry
Sea Glass’ by Anita Shreve

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE WHEREABOUTS OF ENEAS MCNULTY by Sebastian Barry #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3Js via @SandraDanby

Great Opening Paragraph 117… ‘Personal’ #amwriting #FirstPara

Lee Child‘Eight days ago my life was an up and down affair. Some of it good. Some of it not so good. Most of it uneventful. Long slow periods of nothing much, with occasional bursts of something. Like the army itself. Which is how they found me. You can leave the army, but the army doesn’t leave you. Not always. Not completely.’
‘Personal’ by Lee Child

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
‘Sea Glass’ by Anita Shreve
‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon
‘American Psycho’ by Brett Easton Ellis

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
PERSONAL by @LeeChildReacher #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3gI via @SandraDanby





Great Opening Paragraph 116… ‘The Slaves of Solitude’ #amwriting #FirstPara

Patrick Hamilton“London, the crouching monster, like every other monster has to breathe, and breathe it does in its own obscure, malignant way. Its vital oxygen is composed of suburban working men and women of all kinds, who every morning are sucked up through an infinitely complicated respiratory apparatus of trains and termini into the mighty congested lungs, held there for a number of hours, and then, in the evening, exhaled violently through the same channels.”
‘The Slaves of Solitude’ by Patrick Hamilton

Read my review of The Slaves of Solitude.

Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:-
‘Reading Turgenev/Two Lives’ by William Trevor
‘The Children Act’ by Ian McEwan
‘The Ghost Road’ by Pat Barker

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE SLAVES OF SOLITUDE by Patrick Hamilton #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2AD