The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

secretThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is about a lonely and spoiled little girl book whose life changes when she is sent to England to live with her uncle.

Mary Lennox is spoiled and contrary 10 year old living a life no child should have to endure. She lives in India but has no involvement or love from her parents. They have left her care to servants and she never knew discipline or love or friendship. Thus, she was a horrible and ill-tempered tyrant of a child. When her parents die from cholera she is sent to live in her uncle’s manor in Yorkshire.

Her uncle has issues of his own, always staying by himself as he is in permanent mourning for his beautiful deceased wife. He is also a hunchback and feared that his only child, a son named Colin, would develop a hunchback as well. He never interacts with Colin and the child is kept pretty much locked away. Since Colin is never out of doors or running about as young boys should, he is weak and sickly.

Mary discovers him one day – each child was completely unaware of the other in this large lonely mansion. This is the beginning of a friendship for them although they do have their rocky moments and shouting matches. Their developing friendship is beneficial to them both as Colin eventually goes outside and starts to live as a young boy should. Mary in turn softens her demeanor and learns about giving and friendship and love.

What I liked about this old classic was reading about the Yorkshire moors. I also liked how Mary would refer to herself as getting fatter as her appetite improved and she put some flesh on her bones. In India it was so hot that she languished, never played and ate little. The heat was so great she didn’t have an appetite. But the descriptor as “getting fatter” was a positive in language and literature in the era this book was published. Today being called fat is a shaming mechanism.  That’s a shame right there.

When Mary first arrived at her uncle’s manor she met a servant named Martha. Martha plays a good role in this story and is helpful in getting Mary to examine her life. Martha asks Mary is she likes the moor and Mary replies that she hates it. “That’s because tha’rt not used to it,” Martha said in her Yorkshire accent, “Tha’ thinks it’s too big an’ bare now. It’s fair and lovely in Spring and Summer when gorse and broom an’ heather’s in flower. It smells of honey and there’s lots of fresh air,….”
Mary comes to love the moors.

Food mentions are brief. Colin comments “I do wish the slices of ham were thicker, and one muffin each is not enough for any one.”
Colin and Mary have breakfasts of homemade bread and fresh butter, snow white eggs, raspberry jam and clotted cream.

That makes me want to make bread.  I had not made a Sage and Onion bread in a long time  – this one seemed right for this book.  Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor.


Linking up with:
Joy’s British Isles Friday

Based on a True Story (May’s Foodie Reads)

British Book Challenge at Tales of Yesterday

2017 Monthly Motif Challenge

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Stand United Manchester

For British Isles Friday I was going to talk about The Secret Garden, a classic book I finished while trying to recover from a stubborn virus. Right now my thoughts are about the people in Manchester England and book talk seems so inappropriate.

I’m keeping up with the news and filled with sadness when I look at the photos of the children who were killed and reading about the parents who lost their lives while awaiting their daughters to get out of a pop concert. The initial photos and pleas for information about missing loved ones was heart wrenching.


It’s all so senseless. I will never in a million years understand the hate that would direct anyone to commit such a heinous act.

I feel such compassion for these people who have lost a loved one. Despite the grief and shock, perhaps because of it, Manchester has certainly come together as a community with love and support. My thoughts are with you.

Stand United Manchester

Sharing with Joy’s British Isles Friday


When the Music’s Over by Peter Robinson

This is the 23rd book in the DCI Banks series. That’s it….no more books until Peter Robinson’s latest novel comes out in July. Naturally I am already on the list at the library for this publication – so excited!

This book has two investigations going on which has been par for the course in previous books.  Alan Banks has gotten a promotion and he is working on what is described as a historical rape case.  Danny Caxton is a celebrity accused of raping young women back in the 1960’s and 70’s when he was very famous.  The women, some now in their late 50’s and older, are coming forward and banks must investigate the now 85-year old Caxton.

Annie Cabbot and Gerry Masterson are also working on a rape case.  A  young woman raped and dumped in the Yorkshire countryside.  She was alive when she was thrown out of a van but someone else came along and murdered her later.

This is not a cozy mystery.

What I liked about this book

I love a good forensic mystery novel.
Alan Banks and Annie Cabbot are some of my favorite police characters.
Now they are introducing some new detectives and I like them as well.
Food and wine!  There is always mention of pub meals or something at Banks’ home. He is enjoying his journey learning about wine.

What I didn’t care for:

If we have two investigations going on at the same time, do they both have to be rape cases? I was thankful it wasn’t graphic.  I would have liked one case to be a plain old homicide.

Food and drink items mentions are Black Pudding and Smoked Bacon Scotch Egg,, a Prawn and Rose Marie sandwich, chilled California blush wine, Sam Smith’s ale, gin and orange, white wine spritzers, cheese and chutney sandwiches, veggie lasagna and Caesar salad.

It was the shrimp and wine that called to me with this book. A Greek Scampi with Chickpea, Feta, Tomato Salad and a lovely cool glass of Leese-Fitch Chardonnay.

Recipes may be found at Squirrel Head Manor.


Linking up with:
Joy’s British Isles Friday

Based on a True Story (May’s Foodie Reads)

British Book Challenge at Tales of Yesterday

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Readers’ Workout – Hot May Days

We have had some great weather for morning walks. Not so much during midday when the temps soar into the upper 80’s. But mornings….lovely 50’s have been prevailing.

Still walking every morning with the dog and the on our own. Aja’s pace can be slow or high gear but it remains a good warm-up either way. I like Vicki’s idea of tracking distance instead of steps so that is what I will report today. (I am always stealing ideas from my friend Vicki 🙂

Based on an average I seem to walk around 42 miles per week.  There were some days I would get 3.91 miles and others I managed 7.13.  The average is around 5 miles a day.  If cleaning and yard work is involved I get a decent mileage count.  If we take a long ride on the bike I don’t get very much at all.

The Menu

Eggplant Parmesan


Stir Fry with egg, rice and veggies


Broccoli and Cauliflower cheese casserole

How was your week of exercise?

Check out Readers’ Workout at Joy’s Book Blog!


Vibrant India by Chitra Agrawal

indiaVibrant India is clearly a labor of love. What I liked were family photos and the writing giving the background for the author’s passion for cooking. The old photos of her grandparents and parents were great.

The recipes are clearly written with uncomplicated cooking instructions and ingredients which aren’t hard to find. Don’t you hate it when recipes require specialty items that are either very expensive or extremely hard to locate?

Lentils – I love them!  They are a staple in our pantry so I was happy to see many recipes which feature lentils.  I have also enjoyed learning about the difference in Southern Indian cuisine and the Northern style.

Recently, well… within the last several years…. I have renewed my love of Indian food. We have been to several local restaurants and while I have enjoyed the meals immensely, this book will allow me to learn to cook this cuisine at home.

A beauty of a cookbook if you enjoy Indian food. The title is so appropriate as the word vibrant bursts out in photos and passion.


*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, nice and no-so-nice are my own 🙂

In the Dark Places by Peter Robinson

darkPlaces This is # 22 in the Inspector Banks series. This book was much better than the last one. Be warned, there is another title for this book – the U.K. version is titled Abattoir Blues so don’t purchase that title and this title. I wonder why they have different names for the same book?

This plot was gritty and well written. A stolen tractor, a murdered man, a theft ring and more. The descriptive scenes would just about make a vegetarian out of you if you aren’t one already. That’s not the entire book, mind you, just the interviews at the slaughterhouse. It was necessary to the plot and worked well.

Winsome is back and has a big role in this book. I love her character – she is a hellva detective and I hope she is in more books. Annie Cabbot is also featured. One day I hope she and Banks will get together and he stops diddling around with younger women. Ok, one young beauty interested in him in a previous book was fine but seriously….there is another young attractive woman mentioned in the beginning of this book as well.

As for the mystery – it all ties up neatly near the end.  You are left guessing who is the thief and who is the murderer up until the last few chapters. I like it when it can’t be figured out early on.

Food mentions are frequent as British detectives do some of their meetings in pubs. But we also have Winsome Jackman out on a date. Check out the passages in the photos.

We have Beef and Mushroom Pie and haddock, served with fries / chips.


Now this meal below….I could go for a glass of Rioja and a cheese plate.


Next up is book #23 and I will be caught up until the July publication.

Linking up with:
Joy’s British Isles Friday

British Book Challenge

Based on a True Story (May’s Foodie Reads)

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Readers’ Workout – Happy First Week of May!

The first week of May and we have new goals to attain!  I hope to be able to walk more, although  I have not been doing too badly so far.  The weather has been up and down with hot humid mornings for a good stretch and then it changes….today it was only 56 when we headed out to walk.  I surely do enjoy the cooler mornings, especially when exercise is planned.


Coming up we have much yard work to handle.  That will burn a few calories.  There is a tree down and so many branches to be picked up and put in a burn pile.

Menu items:

Grilled Grouper Sandwiches

Grilled Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Pizza and wine

Sesame Noodles with Tofu, Scallions and Cashews

Appetizer Night – sushi, cheese and crackers, fruit salad

Cheese Tortellini with Spinach

I hope your exercise week is going well!

Check out Readers’ Workout at Joy’s Book Blog!