Tag Archives: story

My Porridge & Cream read: Julie Ryan

Today I’m delighted to welcome romantic suspense novelist Julie Ryan. Her ‘Porridge & Cream’ read is The Magus by John Fowles.

“My ‘Porridge & Cream’ book that has served me well over the years is The Magus by John Fowles. I first came across this book whilst I was a student although it had been written much earlier in the 1960s. I was immediately transported to a remote Greek island as I followed Nick Urfe’s journey. John Fowles vividly portrays the magic and mystery of Greece that must have resonated with me as my first job after graduating was as a language teacher in Greece and thus began my lifelong love affair with the country.

“Whenever I need to recapture those halycon days of my youth, I pick up the book for some instant sunshine; a great pick-me-up during the British winter. It doesn’t matter how many times I read this book, I always find something new in it to surprise me. To some people, it may seem a bit dated now but I just love the language and the sense of place as well as the way the millionaire plays with Nicolas’s mind until it becomes more than a game and a question of survival.

Julie Ryan

Julie’s copy of ‘The Magus’

“At university we were taught to analyse every phrase and plot strand so for me this book is the opposite of that; it’s a book which absorbs me without having to be critical. There is the danger of overanalysing as I read about a reader contacting the author regarding the ending which features a London park keeper burning leaves. The reader asked if it was symbolic that leaf burning wasn’t allowed in London parks? John Fowles replied that it was meant to show that it was autumn!

“I have reread the book so often that my original copy fell to pieces so this one is a replacement.”

Julie Ryan’s Bio
Julie Ryan’s roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and she lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. Her spirit enriched, her imagination fired, Julie started a series of mystery romances, thrillers set in the Greek Isles. Julie RyanJenna’s Journey is the first novel in Julie Ryan’s Greek Islands Series, a series she did not set out to create but which took on its own life and grew, rich and fascinating. This is the first of three published so far and promises to delight readers looking for the hidden dark sides of dream vacations in the Greek Isles. A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and dippy cat with half a tail.

Julie Ryan’s links

Julie Ryan’s latest book
Julie RyanLisa and Mark are going through a rough patch, Vicky is seventeen and has just discovered that the man she thought was her father really isn’t, Ruth is getting over her husband’s betrayal after nearly twenty-five years of marriage. On the surface, they have nothing in common except that they are all staying in the same hotel on a Greek Island. As they each come into contact with the mysterious Pandora, their lives will change forever. Bodies begin to pile up as a serial killer is on the loose who might just be targeting the hotel. The Island’s Police Chief, Christos Pavlides, tries to solve the puzzle but he has problems of his own to resolve. It seems that the local celebrity author is the one who holds the key.
‘Pandora’s Prophecy’ by Julie Ryan, #3 Greek Islands series [UK: J Ryan]

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.

Julie Ryan


‘The Magus’ by John Fowles [UK: Vintage]

Discover the ‘Porridge & Cream’ books of these authors:-
Lisa Devaney
Jane Lambert
Laura Wilkinson

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Why does romantic suspense writer @JulieRyan18 re-read THE MAGUS by John Fowles? #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3mUvia @SandraDanby





Great opening paragraph…33

julian barnes - the sense of an ending 30-4-13“I remember, in no particular order:
– a shiny inner wrist;
– steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it;
– gouts of sperm circling a plughole before being sluiced own the full length of a tall house;
– a river rushing nonsensically upstream, its wave and wash lit by half a dozen chasing torchbeams;
– another river, broad and grey, the direction of its flow disguised by a stiff wind exciting the surface;
– bathwater long gone cold behind a locked door.
This last isn’t something I actually saw, but what you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.”
‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes

Book Review: The Little House

Philippa Gregory

Ruth’s story starts with Sunday lunch at the in-laws and builds slowly, pulling you in relentlessly until you can’t put the book down. It is deceptive in its simplicity, at various points in the story I found myself thinking ‘but they couldn’t do that’ or ‘that would never happen.’ But it does and you believe it. The denouement is startling. This is very different from the historical novels by Philippa Gregory but shares the same aspects of a pageturner: you simply want to know what happens next.

Read my review of The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory.

‘The Little House’ by Philippa Gregory [UK: Harper]


If you like ‘The Little House’, try:-
‘The Past’ by Tessa Hadley
‘Lord John and the Private Matter’ by Diana Gabaldon
‘The Knife with the Ivory Handle’ by Cynthia Bruchman

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE LITTLE HOUSE by @PhilippaGBooks #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-oN

Book Review: ‘The Little House’

philippa gregory - the little house 23-7-13Ruth’s story starts with Sunday lunch at the in-laws and builds slowly, pulling you in relentlessly until you can’t put the book down. It is deceptive in its simplicity, at various points in the story I found myself thinking ‘but they couldn’t do that’ or ‘that would never happen.’ But it does and you believe it. The denouement is startling. This is very different from Gregory’s historical novels but shares the same aspects of a pageturner: you simply want to know what happens next.
‘The Little House’ by Philippa Gregory

Great opening paragraph…32

john McGahern - that they may face the rising sun 10-6-13“The morning was clear. There was no wind on the lake. There was also a great stillness. When the bells rang out for Mass, the strokes trembling on the water, they had the entire world to themselves.”
‘That They May Face the Rising Sun’ by John McGahern

Book Review: ‘The Man Who Disappeared’

clare morrall - the man who disappeared 30-7-13Felix Kendall longs for a family, as a boy he lost his own. From the first page where Felix stands in a dark street watching a family illuminated in their dining room, curtains open, you know Felix must be the ‘man who disappeared’ but you don’t know why. The characters are believable and the pages turn quickly as we follow the stories of Felix, his wife Kate, son Rory and daughter Millie as they come to terms with what has happened. I expected this to be a slow indulgent read, lyrical, beautifully written, which it is, but I raced through it in the way I am accustomed to do with thrillers. Clare Morrall is one of my favourite authors, I’ve been a fan since her first book Astonishing Splashes of Colour was shortlisted for the Booker.
‘The Man Who Disappeared’ by Clare Morrall

Great Opening Paragraph… 31

ann patchett - bel canto 10-6-13“When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her. Maybe he had been turning towards her just before it was completely dark, maybe he was lifting his hands. There must have been some movement, a gesture, because every person in the living room would later remember a kiss. They did not see a kiss, that would have been impossible. The darkness that came on them was startling and complete. Not only was everyone there certain of a kiss, they claimed they could identify the type of kiss: it was strong and passionate, and it took her by surprise. They were all looking right at her when the lights went out. They were still applauding, each on his or her feet, still in the fullest throes of hands slapping together, elbows up. Not one person had come anywhere close to tiring. The Italians and the French were yelling, ‘Brava! Brava!’ and the Japanese turned away from them. Would he have kissed her like that had the room been lit? Was his mind so full of her that in the very instant of darkness he reached for her, did he think so quickly? Or was it that they wanted her too, all of the men and women in the room, and so they imagined it collectively. They were so taken by the beauty of her voice that they wanted to cover her mouth with their mouth, drink in. Maybe music could be transferred, devoured, owned. What would it mean to kiss the lips that had held such a sound?”
‘Bel Canto’ by Ann Patchett

Great Opening Paragraph… 30

lynne reid-banks - the L-shaped room 10-6-13“There wasn’t much to be said for the place, really, but it had a roof over it and a door which locked from the inside, which was all I cared about just then. I didn’t even bother to take in the details – they were pretty sordid, but I didn’t notice them so they didn’t depress me; perhaps because I was already at rock-bottom. I just threw my one suitcase on to the bed, took my few belongings out of it and shut them all into one drawer of the three-legged chest of drawers. Then there didn’t seem to be anything else I ought to do so I sat in the arm-chair and stared out of the window.”
‘The L-Shaped Room’ by Lynn Reid-Banks

Great opening paragraph… 28

haruki murakami - the wind-up bird chronicle 10-6-13“When the phone ran I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along to an FM broadcast of the overture of Rossini’s ‘The Thieving Magpie,’ which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.”

‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ by Haruki Murakami [translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin]

Great opening paragraph… 27

kiran desai - the inheritance of loss 30-4-13“All day, the colours had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths. Briefly visible above the vapour, Kanchenjunga was a far peak whittled out of ice, gathering the last of the light, a plume of snow blown high by the storms at its summit.”
‘The Inheritance of Loss’ by Kiran Desai