Friday 27 November 2009

Friday's Forgotten Book: MRS. DALE'S BEDSIDE BOOK by Jonquil Antony

Today's forgotten book comes via a throwaway comment that I made on Patti Abbott's blog on the subject of men and cooking.
MRS. DALE'S BEDSIDE BOOK was published in 1951 and was written by Jonquil Antony for women.
This book stems from a BBC Radio series, 'Mrs Dale's Diary' that was heard on the Light Programme from 1948 until it's final episode on Radio 2 in 1969.
Mary Dale was a doctor's wife who lived in the fictional north London town of Parkwood Hill.
Jonquil Antony was the creator and main scriptwriter for the series. She had, regularly, written short stories and features for the popular women's magazines of the Forties and Fifties.
What is interesting about the Bedside Book is that it is a blend of fact, fiction and excerpts from books and poems. A real pot-pouri.
It is like a diary - it runs from January to December in one year. Using the fiction device Jonquil Antony not only tells a story but uses conversation to talk about the facts of the time.
For instance, that meat rationing is still in force the conversation turns to how people got by. It is not long before someone mentions something called 'Bow Bells Tripe' from which the reader gets a recipe and cooking instructions.
Reading this book, which I really bought for my wife, it is interesting to find things that I could relate to.
Just take December and the making of the Christmas pudding - I recall my Grandmother waiting for the grandchildren to gather to take their turn at stirring the mix - just the same as in this book.
At Christmas I made fondants and this book has a recipe.
At a time of shortages there are other recipes to be found for things like cold cream and furniture polish.
This book is a really interesting portrait of life in 1950.


Laurie Powers said...

I love those kind of cookbooks, too, Ray. Thanks for the review.

Evan Lewis said...

I'd say you deserve the prize for Most Forgotten Book of the week.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This just looks like so much fun. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Ray said...

I do love it when I come across unexpected finds like this book.