Fanny update

Dear Richard,

I'm writing to let you know that I've finished reading the copy of Fanny Cradock's "The Lormes of Castle Rising" that I won in your "My Fanny in your Hands" competition some months ago.

I can't deny that it's been hard going, but I was determined to finish it and I'm glad I did, if only for the satisfaction found in completing such a Sisyphean task.

I found it a bit heavy on historical detail and a bit light on imagination and ripping yarns, but I've got to give her some credit for writing a better novel than I'll ever manage to write.

Thanks again for letting me get my hands on your Fanny.

I intend to give the book to my sister-in-law for her birthday. She likes cooking and likes reading so it should be a dead cert' for loads of Brownie points.

Yours sincerely,


Fanny Cradock

Hands up who remembers Fanny Cradock.

Fanny Cradock

Fanny Cradock not very recently.

No, Fanny Cradock wasn't some unsavoury medical condition which ran rampant throughout Scotland until the advent of penicillin. For those young whippersnappers amongst you who don't remember her, Fanny Cradock was one of the first in a long and continuing line of British TV celebrity cooks.

When people of a certain age reminisce about Fanny Cradock, the words harridan, battleaxe and snob slide effortlessly into the conversation, like a hot knife sliding into a lump of pâté de fois gras.

Fanny Cradock was also a terrible bully. She was a bully to her long-suffering on-screen (and, in later years, real-life) husband, Johnnie; she was a bully to her terrified assistant, Sarah; she was even a bully to us, her audience—which is probably why we watched her.

Fanny Cradock was certainly no Delia (although neither, it would seem, is Delia these days).

Anyway, I'm not here to give you a potted meaty biography of Fanny Cradock. If you'd like an extra helping, there's one somebody prepared earlier over in the Wikipedia. No, I'm here to talk about Fanny Cradock's other career: as a writer of historical fiction.

Actually, no I'm not. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea Fanny Cradock wrote novels until I came across one last month in, rather appropriately, an excellent little Italian restaurant. The restaurant had a shelf of second-hand books on sale (all proceeds to local charities). And there it was:

The Lormes of Castle Rising

Cradock's magnum opus.

The Lormes of Castle Rising
by Fanny Cradock

Intrigued, I read the bumf on the back cover:

The first in a remarkable saga charting the rise, decline and ultimate fall of a great family…

The Lormes of Castle Rising

A family of Norman origin who landed with the Conqueror, the Lormes were famed for their devoted allegiance to the crown. Despite the fluctuations and vicissitudes due largely to a persistent taint in the line, they weathered the centuries to reach their zenith during the Edwardian era.

The novel lovingly recaptures the serenity of the idyllic days when all was elegant above, and servile below, stairs.
Sunday Times

Delicious reading.
Daily Express


The Lormes of Castle Rising was 50p, but I simply had to have it.

But later, having bought the book, and having sobered up a bit, it occurred to me, no, why should I be the lucky owner of this undoubted masterpiece, when it is unlikely in the extreme that I shall ever read it? It just doesn't seem right. Far better that I give it away to a more discerning reader.

Which is where you come in—whoever you are.

You're reading Gruts. That makes you a discerning reader in anyone's book. How would you like a chance to win my personal copy of The Lormes of Castle Rising? Tempted? I can see you're salivating already.

Click the following link for details of how to enter this exciting competition:

Enter the competition!

Go on, you know you want it.