Tag Archives: orphans

My Porridge & Cream read… @MaggieCobbett #books #Yorkshire

Today I’m delighted to welcome Yorkshire novelist Maggie Cobbett. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Beloved Vagabond by William J Locke.

The Beloved Vagabond by William J Locke has been a favourite of mine since childhood. The now tatty illustrated edition, published in 1922, belonged to my father and we used to read it together. It is that memory that often draws me back to it, together with the fact that Paragot, the main character, (as depicted in the wonderful illustrations by Jean Dulac, see below), bears more than a passing resemblance to Dad as he would have liked to be. An artist, writer and rover at heart, he was trapped for most of his life in mundane occupations that kept him in Yorkshire.” Maggie Cobbett

Maggie Cobbett

Paragot in Paris

Maggie’s Bio
Born in Leeds, Maggie studied modern languages at the University of Manchester and then spent many years teaching in the UK and abroad, taking every opportunity to travel more extensively in the holidays. Since taking early retirement and now based back in Yorkshire with her family, she writes short stories, articles, reviews, ‘fillers’ and even the occasional poem. Until the pandemic struck, she also appeared regularly as a ‘village regular’ on Emmerdale.

Maggie’s links
Workhouse Orphan at Facebook

Maggie’s latest book
Maggie CobbettMaggie explains, “Workhouse Orphan, inspired by a brave young man way back in my family history and dedicated to him, tells the story of a boy forced at a very tender age to leave his siblings behind in their grim London workhouse and work down a Yorkshire coal mine. Despite the hardships he encounters, he never loses sight of his wish to reunite the family. While not originally intended to be a book for children – it’s actually suitable for anyone with an interest in social history – I’ve been told by parents that it’s made a good bedtime read and given their own offspring cause to realise how lucky they are!”

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:-
Julia Thum’s choice is ‘The Little White Horse’ by Elizabeth Goudge
Lexi Rees chooses ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams
The Shell Seekers’ by Rosamund Pilcher is chosen by Carol Warham

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Why does Yorkshire author @MaggieCobbett re-read THE BELOVED VAGABOND by William J Locke? #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4Yt via @SandraDanby

#BookReview ‘The Orphan’s Gift’ by @RenitaDSilva #historical #India

The Orphan’s Gift by Renita D’Silva tells the stories of two women, Alice and Janaki, and moves across four decades between India and England. It is a deceptive tale of love and loss and the mystery of how these two young women are connected at a time when certain love was forbidden. It is an unforgiving world where broken rules may be punished by death, isolation and poverty and where the sanctions may come from those closest to you. Renita D’Silva

We first meet Alice, aged four, living a privileged life in the house of her parents, surrounded by beauty, warmth, and servants. But there are shadows too. Alice’s parents are distant and she finds love and companionship with her Ayah and Ayah’s son, Raju. Alice’s mother is delicate and spends all her time in a shadowed bedroom, her father is Deputy Commissioner of the British Government in India. Alice’s story starts in 1909 when the first agitations of Indian independence begin.

Janaki’s story begins in 1944 when she is raised by nuns in an Indian orphanage, she was left there as a tiny baby, wrapped in a hand-made green cardigan. Desperate for love, Janaki learns a difficult lesson; that even when love is found, there is no insurance against future pain.

The lives of both women are coloured by their early years and their differing experiences of love. Each story on its own is fascinating, but the fascination comes from how the two women are linked. Occasionally we see a tantalising glimpse of the elderly Alice in India in 1986, as an unknown visitor arrives. Hints are given in the Prologue which of course I read then forgot about as I became enthralled in the world of the book. Only as the book approaches its end does the significance of the Prologue become clear. D’Silva’s theme is how life turns on a sixpence. ‘It takes so little to change a life.’

I particularly enjoyed Janaki’s life at the orphanage, her friendship with Arthy, the pact the two girls make to study as doctors after meeting Mother Theresa and seeing one of their friends die because of the orphanage’s inability to pay for a doctor. Janaki’s story jumps forwards to the 1960s when she is a trailblazing doctor of gynaecology, at a time when female doctors are rare and given many column inches, but when she feels at her loneliest.

Love, and its subsequent loss, is not always fair; it hurts and can be unjust. This is a story of the ripple of consequences, it is also about the strength and truth of unselfish love which transcends prejudice, poverty and status. This book is full of the colours and scents of India but at its heart is a darkness and sadness which jabs an emotional punch. D’Silva is my go-to author for novels about India; she creates a sensory world which never fails to delight but into this setting she weaves stories tackling moral and heart-breaking themes.

Read my reviews of A Mother’s Secret, Beneath an Indian Sky and The Girl in the Painting, also by Renita D’Silva.

If you like this, try:-
At First Light’ by Vanessa Lafaye
The Sapphire Widow’ by Dinah Jeffries
Fatal Inheritance’ by Rachel Rhys

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE ORPHAN’S GIFT by @RenitaDSilva #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4Fw via @SandraDanby