#bookreview Slightly Foxed, Autumn issue 2022, no.75 @FoxedQuarterly

Autumn 2022:

Crisp, cold mornings have replaced humid nights, and with them the urge to take long morning walks with my affectionate and loyal dog Mr Dawsey Adams. The shorter days bring on twinkle lights and candles, hot chocolate and snuggling down under a chunky blanket with the latest edition of Slightly Foxed. Things to be grateful for. Pause. How do you feel? I can’t decide if the world changed during the earlier years of the Covid19 pandemic or if society is just trying to apply old values to a modern situation. We have a ‘cost of living’ crisis like never before, yet another new Prime Minister (sadly still Conservative) and we have lost our dear dear Queen. In her place we have King Charles III – Long live the King.

Again, I want to reiterate my praise for the Slightly Foxed podcast. Keeping me topped up with literary recommendations and entertainment, I am forever in gratitude for the effort the team make to remain buoyant in these times.

I start my review with something familiar to me, An Extraordinary Ordinary Housewife by Ysenda Maxtone Graham on Nella Last’s War. What I love about Grahams piece on Nella, is that they don’t shy away from things that seem repugnant to society now or things that we wouldn’t want to believe existed, like anti-semitism, and controlling manipulating husbands in a patriarchic world. But. Graham points out the qualities of this stoic woman who considers herself weak, her ordinariness made formidable, and her ability to have the dinner ready on time no matter what is going on. Graham shrewdly says that “everyone who reads these diaries will be nourished and informed by them in different ways” and as Nella was one of the most prolific of the Mass Observation diarists, your soul will be quite filled up.

Fidget Pie* by Sue Quinn on Good things in England published in 1932. Quinn starts with a smorgasbord of recipe names from the fourteenth century including Fidget pie and Minnow Tansies that instantly make me want to see this book! What I enjoyed about this review was Quinn’s insight into Florence White, the creator, the way she lived and wrote, her travels, her jobs including governess and housekeeper, and how she hoped to “rescue England’s food heritage from oblivion”. Quinn includes her favourite recipe from the book, and refers to the recipes as “real treasures” and I agree. She finishes her review of the book with Fidget Pie, saying “it still tastes as delicious as it sounds”.

*This review has two wonderful illustrations

What I found enjoyable about Unpacking My Grandparents’ Books by C.J.Schuler, was the delight they clearly found in some dusty old books they inherited from grandparents. They discovered what I already know as a scholar of book history; the richness in inscriptions and dates that reveal the important times/thoughts of people long after the books have moved on, “I became aware that each one embodied a narrative beyond the one printed on its pages in heavy German black-letter type”.

There are more reviews in the Autumn edition ready to warm you and make you smile quietly to yourself. Why not take a look here.

The consequences of an ongoing pandemic and war (Ukraine) make for a harsh reality of soaring inflation, job losses, protests and strike action. In these times I am even more grateful to escape into books and for having opportunities, hopes and dreams, and a spark to read. Something that Slightly Foxed is in some ways responsible for.


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