“Always a tea-drinker”? You’re in for a spooky night with Bram Stoker

As a dedicated lover of Gothic fiction (as I’m sure you’ve found out if you are a regular reader), my favourite time of year is when I get to read spooky short stories to my students. Stories such as Poe’s “The Black Cat” and Wells’s “The Red Room” should always be read aloud and as dramatically as possible in order to build up tension and … Continue reading “Always a tea-drinker”? You’re in for a spooky night with Bram Stoker

Frugal January: Victorian Gruel from Oliver Twist (1837)

Straight after the usual exuberance and abundance of the festive season one feels the urgency of going on some sort of detox diet, and my January has been particularly frugal. This month’s frugality has given new importance to breakfast in my daily routine and made me more creative in my re-thinking morning porridge: oats, rye flakes, quinoa, or buckwheat, are all the rage in my … Continue reading Frugal January: Victorian Gruel from Oliver Twist (1837)

Updating Miss Havisham

Summer is the time when my (Amy’s) social media feeds fill up with pictures of weddings and everyone seems to be talking about the bride & groom’s choice of venue, colours, food, music… This summer the theme seems to be DIY weddings involving hand-crafted invitations, favours, decorations and – of course – cakes. I can now write that I have made my first cake for … Continue reading Updating Miss Havisham

From farm to factory: bread in Michael McLaverty’s “Call my Brother Back” (1939)

  The next instalment in our culinary cruise through literature takes us to the north of Ireland and the work of the writer Michael McLaverty. Born in 1904, McLaverty is one of Belfast’s most accomplished proponents of the short story and novel form. His first and best known novel, Call my Brother Back (1939) is an understated, poignant elegy to rural life. Set during the … Continue reading From farm to factory: bread in Michael McLaverty’s “Call my Brother Back” (1939)

The ‘bitten macaroon’: Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879)

In the world famous Norwegian play A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen has Nora, the protagonist, eat macaroons from the very first scene: Nora has just got back home from her Christmas shopping, and stealthily eats some macaroons — with this very small yet important action, the audience immediately understands that the macaroons hide more relevance than that they actually show. Our attention is drawn to … Continue reading The ‘bitten macaroon’: Ibsen’s A Doll’s House (1879)