There is a kind of book that we at Victoria used to call Read with Tea. This phrase was originated by Michele Slung. I read a review that Michele wrote of a James Heriot book where she ended her comments about the English vet's animal stories with the phrase read with tea. I called our literary editor, Kitty Ross, into my office and asked her to contact Michele. I wanted her to bring this genre of book to our readers, with her special taste and take on a subject.
Kitty did find Michele and she began as a regular contributor to our pages. We even created a graphic to go with her columns. I read some pretty interesting stuff with my tea, thanks to Michele. And what's even more rewarding is that she and Kitty have become great friends. The three of us have had some delightful lunches over the years. And I had a dream of creating Read with Tea press featuring books that women would find, well, delicious.
Now to the subject of A Promise Kept: I told you that I'd read and review the new biographies of Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Both are pretty heavy going, and I must admit that it took a certain amount of diligence to read them. What we love about their writing is the charm of girls growing up. Of course, not everything in the stories of Little Women and Anne of Green Gables is sweetness and light; but we delighted in their adventures while we held their travails close to our hearts.
When I wrote Jenny Walton's Packing for a Woman's Journey, I pledged to relate the best I had to give. If I have to sum up the lives of these writers, I would say that is exactly what they did. And I almost question why we want or need to know of Lucy Maud Montgomery's troubles with her son Chester, for example.
A friend and former colleague recently said something very interesting--that she doesn't enjoy reading about people's lives when so much of it centers about the difficult times. Rather, she said she wanted to know about and read about accomplishments--and how they were achieved.
I am not, however, discouraging you from reading these two biographies. The Montgomery book is incredibly well-researched and that in itself deserves attention. But these are not casual reads. They will enlighten you about women's lives at the time these women wrote and they will give you the seed bed of their fiction. But they are not read with tea books. They are reads to delve deeply into the creative process and to appreciate how creativity can rise above life's difficulties. For pure joy, I'd return to "the best they had to give"--the stories that helped raise us as women and kept us as girls returning to the library week after week to savor every word.
What is your favorite childhood book? Tell us why...