Two Sets of Reader Recommendations: Foodie Memoirs and Ida Pollock

I have two sets of reader recommendations for you, should you be looking for more books. Because who ISN'T looking for more books, right? Of course. 

A Rose for DangerOn 3 December writer Ida Pollock passed away at the age of 105. She had written 125 romances – the 125th to be published very soon. From the Daily Mail:

Mrs Pollock went on to use ten pseudonyms and saw 70 of her books published by Mills & Boon under the names Pamela Kent, Rose Burghley, Susan Barrie and Mary Whistler.

Many of her dashing male heroes were modelled on her late husband Colonel Hugh Pollock, a decorated veteran who was previously married to Enid Blyton.

Earlier this year Ida said: 'A romance is never just a romance, there's adventure, mystery and movement.

Not only that, but Ms. Pollock was also a painter, and her work was exhibited in 2004, when she was 96. (This makes me feel like I have accomplished very little today, let me tel you). 

I tweeted about Ms. Pollock's passing and received an email from Cate, who wrote: 

Have just sent you a link to the obit in the Mail re Ida Pollock, aka Marguerite Bell,Susan Barrie and many more… she's just died at the grand old age of 105,and I think she deserves a mention (and not just because her Marguerite Bell books are still on my keeper shelf 30 odd years down the line).

She's one of a few authors (Mary Stewart & Dinah Dean primarily) that piqued and then maintained my love romance novels…& trust me, in the 80's & 90's in the UK, prior to access to the internet & Amazon, it was hellishly difficult to get your hands on decent romance novels.Basically, if you didn't like Catherine (kitchen sink) Cookson, Jilly (stable sagas) Cooper, or Jackie (if it moves -shag it) Collins you were STUFFED!

So please, give a nod to this lovely author.


I asked Cate what she loved about Ms. Pollock's writing and which books she liked or recalled best, and she said: 

The two I remember best…and can find at short notice are A Rose for Danger & Bride by Auction. I do have The Devil's Daughter, but can't get at it at the moment.

She had a fab gift for mixing romance & intrigue. If she were a few generations down the line, we'd be putting her in the same category as Joanna Bourne.

I will be re-reading these sometime over the next week, but I do know that, at a time when romance was in short supply, she kept the candle burning for this reader.

I think that's just amazing, and a lovely way to remember an author, that she kept the candle burning. Have you read Marguerite Bell — or any of Ms. Pollock's other works under her many pen names?


Yesterday I posted about The Spice Necklace by Ann Vanderhoof, a travel memoir about her sailing trips around the Caribbean and the recipes she learned – still on sale for $1.99.

My tweet about the book inspired @ItsMeMaven on Twitter to offer up some other travel/food books that sounded delicious. If you like food and travel experiences with your reading, these might really appeal to you. Here are the recommendations: 


Book Monsoon DiaryMonsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes by Shoba Narayan   ( A | BN | K S | ARe)

Maven says, “similar [to The Spice Necklace] (memoir + recipes), but involves India. Good read!”  

(This alternate cover at AllRomance is so lovely – have a look!)

In this creative and intimate work, Narayan’s considerable vegetarian cooking talents are matched by stories as varied as Indian spices—at times pungent, mellow, piquant, and sweet. Tantalizing recipes for potato masala, dosa, and coconut chutney, among others, emerge from Narayan’s absorbing tales about food and the solemn and quirky customs that surround it.



Book The Language of Baklava The Language of Baklava by Diane Abu-Jaber ( A | BN | K S | ARe)

I would like to become fluent in this language. How about you? 

Diana Abu-Jaber’s vibrant, humorous memoir weaves together stories of being raised by a food-obsessed Jordanian father with tales of Lake Ontario shish kabob cookouts and goat stew feasts under Bedouin tents in the desert.

These sensuously evoked repasts, complete with recipes, in turn illuminate the two cultures of Diana's childhood–American and Jordanian–while helping to paint a loving and complex portrait of her impractical, displaced immigrant father who, like many an immigrant before him, cooked to remember the place he came from and to pass that connection on to his children. The Language of Baklava irresistably invites us to sit down at the table with Diana’s family, sharing unforgettable meals that turn out to be as much about “grace, difference, faith, love” as they are about food.


Book Rosewater & Soda Bread: A Novel, by Marsha MehranRosewater and Soda Bread: A Novel, by Marsha Mehran ( A | BN | K S | ARe)

This isn't a memoir, but a novel about three Iranian sisters who move to Ireland. 

More than a year has passed since Marjan, Bahar, and Layla, the beautiful Iranian Aminpour sisters, sought refuge in the quaint Irish town of Ballinacroagh. Opening the beguiling Babylon Café, they charmed the locals with their warm hearts and delectable Persian cuisine, bringing a saffron-scented spice to the once-sleepy village.

But when a young woman with a dark secret literally washes up on Clew Bay Beach, the sisters’ world is once again turned upside down. With pale skin and webbed hands, the girl is otherworldly, but her wounds tell a more earthly (and graver) story–one that sends the strict Catholic town into an uproar. The Aminpours rally around the newcomer, but each sister must also contend with her own transformation–Marjan tests her feelings for love with a dashing writer, Bahar takes on a new spiritual commitment with the help of Father Mahoney, and Layla matures into a young woman when she and her boyfriend, Malachy, step up their hot and heavy relationship.


What travel or food memoirs do you adore? 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    DonnaMarie says:

    I recently took Ruth Reichl’s “Tender at the Bone” on vacation with me. Ruth was the editor of the late lamented Gourmet magazine and has a show on PBS called Gourmet’s Diary which all food and travel.

  2. 2
    Vasha says:

    I hope I may be forgiven for going off-topic (but not totally off-topic, because the book I’m about to mention I recommend: do read it). Are there any fans of Ginn Hale here? I created a TVTropes page for her novel The Rifter and would love to have other people join in to improve it.

  3. 3
    Sally says:

    I have read Mistress of Brown Furrows written under the name, Susan Barrie. I got the book because I love the cover, but I wasn’t too impressed with the story. (My review is on Librarything if anyone is interested). I have six other books by Ms. Pollock so maybe I’ll find one I’d enjoy.

  4. 4
    Karin says:

    Travel and food, two of my favorite genres, and luckily you can often find both in the same book. I love Ruth Reichl’s books, and I am on my 3rd one, “Garlic and Sapphires” which is about her adventures as the New York Times food critic, and very, very funny. My favorite line, to her from the owner of Le Cirque: “The King of Spain is waiting in the bar, but YOUR table is ready.” MFK Fisher’s books are classics, and I also love the late, great Laurie Colwin’s book “Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen”. 
    I recommend “Motoring With Mohammed”, very funny, travel and there is cooking in it too. For instance what you eat when your yacht is shipwrecked on a desert island: turtle egg omelets.
    Other food/travel books: Paris To The Moon by Adam Gopnik, anything by Calvin Trillin, and As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee.
    Monsoon Diary sounds like my cup of tea.

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