Savidge Reads Grills… Louise Savidge (aka My Mum)

Well I have told you lots about her on and off over the last few years and so I thought it was about time (in fact I have been meaning to do this for ages) for my mother to get a grilling after all it was in part her love of books that must have caught somewhere in my DNA or upbringing. In fact she loves books so much she teaches them in schools as an English teacher, though she also teaches classics and drama. With almost (as you don’t start to read straight away) 44 years of reading experience here is what my Mum’s thoughts are on books, authors and everything in between…

What book/books are you reading right now and what made you want to read that/those books?

Right now I’m reading ‘Sea of Poppies’ by Amitav Ghosh.  I read ‘The Glass Palace’ some years ago and loved it. If I find a novelist I like I tend to spread the reading out, like treats, instead of guzzling them up in one go.

What books started your reading life, and which books kept your passion for reading alive?

My first favourite was ‘Little Black Sambo’ which caused some controversy at the time a few years after. I never thought it was racist, I am certainly not, but then as a kid you wouldn’t would you? I just remember being spellbound by the bright illustrations which were printed on glossy paper (a novelty in the Sixties) and found the tiger genuinely scary.  As a child I read anything I could get my hands on; Famous Five, Chalet School, Narnia books but firm favourites which I kept going back to were ‘Anne of Green Gables’, ‘Little Women’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’.

You have rather book loving children, how have you made reading such an addiction for them? Can you take any credit or is it just genetic?

Some of it could well be genetic but I have always loved reading aloud. Mum (Granny Savidge Reads) always read to us as children and I used to read to my sister a lot even before I had my own children. I think there’s something very special about snuggling up with a book and sharing it with someone you love.  There’s probably a ‘preachy’ element to it too: I am, after all, a teacher.

What are your reading habits, where do you most like to read? Are there any specific times which are your most responsive reading periods?

After my first husband died seventeen years ago I couldn’t read at all, this was worrying and odd because I needed the escapism. To be honest, I can, and do, read anywhere. My greatest bouts of reading occur when I’m on holiday because that’s when I have most time. I do try to read when I go to bed but more often than not am woken by the book striking me brutally on the nose.

How has your reading taste changed over the years?

I have always enjoyed an eclectic mix and will never rule anything out.

Have you read any books that have changed your life or books that have changed your view on life and the world?

There are several books that I feel everyone ‘should’ read. ‘Schindlers Ark’ and ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ would be two because they communicate some very important messages about being a generous and broad-minded human being without being in any way ‘preachy’. Personally for me reading ‘I Claudius’ by Robert Graves was the final incentive towards becoming a Classicist.

Has there ever been a classic (or two) that you have simply failed to love and why?

I didn’t enjoy ‘Mill on the Floss’ or ‘Wuthering Heights’ initially because I think I was too young when I read them. I grew to love ‘Wuthering Heights’ through teaching it, the jury is still out on ‘Mill on the Floss’ but I did read ‘Middlemarch’ some years ago and thought it was stunning.

Who is your fictional heroine?

When I was young I wanted to be Jo in ‘Little Women’ or Anne from Green Gables. I think they had a certain quirkiness and courage which, as a child, I lacked. I do, however, as an adult, have a fictional hero. His name is Hektor and he fights for Troy in Homer’s Iliad. He shows great humanity and typifies the conflict which can occur between our public and private personas.

Which authors alive today do you think will be most remembered in a hundred years time?

Matthew Kneale’ s  ‘English Passenger’s’ should stand the test of time, as should Arundhati  Roy’s ‘God of Small Things’  – both are beautifully written.

Do you have a faithful favourite author you can always turn to?

Not as such but I have been ‘living with’ the characters from Homer and Virgil all my adult life. They are, by the way, real.

What is your fondest bookish memory?

I’m still living it. I love it when my husband reads Harry Potter to the children and does all the voices. They are incredibly lucky; sadly, very few fathers read to their children.

Who do you turn to for bookish advice, how do you hear about new books?

Family, friends………………Simon, of course!

What book do you most want to read at the moment that you haven’t?

I’d love to have time to read more Antony Trollop. The few I have read I’ve loved for his brilliant social observations and complete characters. I expect I might get round to him properly when I retire. 



Filed under Louise Savidge, Savidge Reads Grills...

28 responses to “Savidge Reads Grills… Louise Savidge (aka My Mum)

  1. Lovely to get to know your mum through this post, Simon, and she’s mentioned some great books there.

  2. Oh my gosh, you are the dead spit of your mother! But she looks so young! Are you sure she’s not your sister?? 😉

    Great interview. Agree about English Passengers. And I do think that if you are read to as a child, or encourage to read as a child, it sticks with you and you become a reader as an adult. My father was a teacher, and read to us and bought us books and it was his library I raided as a teenager, hence my early love of quite “male” fiction like Leon Uris! 😉

  3. Ok

    1. Your mum does not look old enough to be your mum – she doesn’t look a day over 35
    2. You and your mum look so alike!!

    Great picks as one would expect from both your mother and an English teacher – I’m off to check a few of these titles out!

  4. Thank you for the interview. I thoroughly agree about Little Women, Middlemarch and Anthony Trollope.

  5. bookgazing

    Yes third the idea that your mum looks so young (and pretty). So nice to see some more of your family popping up here. I really hope God of Small Things is remembered in years to come too, because it’s a amazing.

  6. A lovely interview. Your (very young looking) mum has me contemplating the Classics for perhaps the first time! I have made it this far in my life without ever reading Homer or Virgil – not sure I can allow that to continue for much longer.

  7. Jen

    I, too, think your mother looks so YOUNG! =)
    I had forgotten about Little Black Sambo. I was scared of the tiger, too. I am currently reading The Glass Palace.

    What a great family you have, Simon! I’m wondering – has your mother ever read Sophie’s Choice? It is now available as an electronic book.

  8. What a wonderful interview and a great selection of books! I wanted to be both Jo March and Anne Shirley too! I’ve heard lots of great things about The Glass Palace so must get around to reading it soon. And like everyone said, your mum looks SO YOUNG!

  9. JoV

    What the heck, I am going to repeat what everybody said, “Your mommy looks soooooo.. young!”

    Thanks for introducing us to your mom Simon, I think she has got great taste!

  10. OK, so looking at your mom, I should be old enough to be your mum as well? She could pass for a sister. I love her answers. I can completely understand now how you grew up to be such a well-read guy.

  11. What a wonderful post (except for that depressing moment when I realized I’m old enough to be your mother! 😉 ). Reading aloud to one’s children has to be the biggest thing to passing on your love of reading to them — that and keeping them surrounded by a house full of books. 🙂 I so enjoyed your mother’s interview! I haven’ thought about Little Black Sambo in years, but we had a Viewmaster reel of that story that was our favorite, and of course, like your mother, we had no idea of the racism it portrayed at the time.
    Thanks for sharing your mother with us, Simon!

  12. What a really lovely interview.
    I can relate to just about every answer Mum gave to your questions, even down to the childhood books.
    Our house is stacked full of books, in a truly eclectic mix and I couldn’t imagine life without them.
    Thank your Mum for sharing her thoughts amd memories with us all.

  13. Eva

    I’m going to be unoriginal and say I can’t get over how much you look like your mom and how young she looks. You’ve got some good genes there! 😀

    I loved reading her answers and we have some favourites in common (Middlemarch, Little Women-although I wanted to be Amy, Anne of Green Gables, Anthony Trollope). I hope she’s enjoying Sea of Poppies as much I did. 😀

  14. gaskella

    It’s lovely to meet your Mum – great interview and some great books. I totally agree that I Clavdius is/was inspirational – it worked for me too to inspire a love of Greek/Roman classics.

  15. You and your Mum look like twins!! (not that you look 44, Simon, but that your Mum looks 28!) 😉

    I heart Mummy Savidge for admitting to not liking Wuthering Heights and The Mill on the Floss. I love Victorian books and even run an online victorian book group but the only two I have ever failed to finish are those EXACT two! I was bored to tears in both of them. TMotF is DULL, DULL, DULL!!!!

    I love Jo March and Anne Shirley too. Loving your bookish family, Simon!

  16. I think I am old enough to be your grandmother….

  17. What others have said – you look very alike and she could definitely be your sister! I like to leave a gap between author books too. It doesn’t always happen, but I try to split books up so I haven’t read all a people’s work at once. I’m still having trouble considering reading LotR now, can’t imagine having read it as a child! Interesting interview 🙂

  18. Bet

    Yes, Simon, she does look young– she’s about my age, I expect, since you are about the same age as my oldest. 😉

    I have lovely memories of reading to MY children, as well. I homeschooled all 5 of them from first grade up to high school. I had the great thrill and privilege of teaching them to read, but even after I taught them, I read to them for at least an hour each day. My favorite times were in the winter by a fire– so cozy! That’s the only part of home schooling (and parenting) that I miss now that they are older. I can’t wait to be a grandma so I can start all over again.

  19. Lovely interview!

    I haven’t been able to bring myself to read Mill on the Floss, because my parents made me watch the film when I was much younger. I just thought it was the saddest thing in the world and cried for hours! I keep thinking that I should read it, because it sounds so interesting, but yet… can’t quite do it.

    Glad I’m not the only one who keeps long-lived book avoidances going!

  20. A stunning interview! I’d love to sit down and talk books with your mom. 🙂

  21. I also loved Middlemarch but have tried to start The Mill on the Floss more than once and just can’t get going in it!

    I love these posts, Simon. It’s fun to learn about other readers in the family!

  22. You mum looks so young! And I really enjoy getting to know your family a little through your posts. It sounds like you have a wonderful family.

  23. gracenotes34

    lovely eclectic taste – classics to moderns – last bit reminded me I havent read a Trollope for a while – I read right through all the Barsetshire ones and then the Palliser series – when I finished one I couldn’t wait to get the next instalment – shows how great the characters are. Last Chronicle of Barsetshire had me in tears – I didnt want it to end – your mum has a treat in store. Now which one next…?

  24. Thank you one and all, I didnt think was best to pop back and just say to you all ‘I know isnt she young’ in all the comments as a reply so thought would do it in one go. I might be back though and add a bit here and there.

    Interesting you say we look a like, neither of us can see it!!!

    Glad you all enjoyed and thanks for making Mum feel so welcome, and so flattered frankly!

  25. I’ve been hearing a lot about Sea of Poppies, definitely one I’m hoping to read sometime. Great to hear more about your mum Simon – and hooray for more Anne of Green Gables lovers! (Being from PEI, of course, I like to hear that!)

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