05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Thursday, November 27, 2014



I am grateful for many things. Good health, happy family and fond childhood memories. The thing that really sticks in my mind when it comes to gratitude is the garden of my childhood home, and the produce grown there. To say it was life-saving would be an understatement.

My parents didn’t have much money when I was young. I didn’t really think that much about it at the time, but as I grew older I suddenly realized that my mother was a genius when it came to running the household on meagre amounts of money. She was also a great cook.

My father returned from the 2nd World War carrying injuries, the physical ones we knew of but not the psychological ones. He had a heart attack in the early 1950’s when I was very young, and he could no longer work. Things were tough as we had to survive on a small military pension. He should have received a much larger pension but somehow never did.

No matter how bad things got, we were never hungry or dressed in ragged clothes, and we had a roof over our heads. Luckily my parents had paid off our house before Dad got sick.

Dad had a wonderful garden and we were very thankful for the produce he grew there. Tomatoes were his speciality. He loved them and grew heaps of them. I can still remember the tomatoes, we ate them raw, in salads, cooked, fried, steamed. Green tomato pickle, tomato sauce, chutney, tomato relish. You name it, mum cooked it. She used to preserve tomatoes so we could have them all year long.  

Looking back on things now I realize I should be grateful for the humble tomato, it certainly kept our bellies full.  I can’t even recall how many different dishes mum used to make with tomatoes as a base.

Apples were another thing Dad grew well. We had about six different varieties of apple trees growing in the garden. Once again, Mum baked them, stewed them and preserved them. We used to pick them green sometimes and store them in the roof cavity of the house and they would ripen up there. They lasted for months. Potatoes were another one of his specialties. I firmly believe to this day that it was the garden that kept Dad sane. He used to spend hours there.

So, I am grateful for my mother’s cooking expertise and other housekeeping skills and my father’s gardening skills, otherwise life would have been grim.

My early upbringing has stayed with me and I think that is why I mainly write about heroines who are poor and doing it hard. I can’t remember ever having written a rich heroine in any of my stories. As for my heroes, well they are always rich, arrogant and tough men who are redeemed by a gentle heroine who is strong because she has overcome hardship.

In my novel, Falsely Accused, the heroine is exiled to the penal colony of Australia for a crime she did not commit. She has to survive the degradation and desperation of the convict ship, and once she disembarks, her problems increase a hundredfold.

On board the convict ship taking them to the penal colony of Australia, Maryanne Watson meets the mysterious American, Jake Smith. They fall in love, but Jake hides a terrible secret that will take him to the gallows if it ever comes out.

On arrival in Sydney the lovers are separated. Maryanne is sent to work for the lecherous Captain Fitzhugh. After he attacks her she flees into the wilderness and eventually meets up with Jake who has escaped from a chain gang.  They set up home in a hidden valley and Maryanne falls pregnant.  Will Jake come out of hiding to protect his fledgling family? And how can love triumph over such crushing odds?
Available in print and e-book format.


Judith Ashley said...

Another thing we have in common, Margaret. Our dad's gardening. My dad wasn't as prolific as yours by any means but it was the way he relaxed and brought balance back into his world. Once he retired he spent hours every day puttering around in his garden - roses were his specialty although there were always tomatoes and herbs. Some years there were many more: lettuce, corn, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, strawberries and raspberries. They never had enough property to get into the fruit trees.

My mom was also a good cook and I remember helping can fruit and vegetables that we used all winter long.

Thanks for sharing about your dad and the garden and how creative your mom was!

"Falsely Accused" looks like another great read where I'll be entertained while I learn more about the history of Australia!!!

Sarah Raplee said...

Enjoyed your post, Margaret! FALSELY ACCUSED sounds intriguing. I enjoy learning about Australian history.