A Good Home, Books, Canadian Gardens, Food, Gardens of An Honest House

When Readers Write

Photos by Hamlin Grange

One of the most enjoyable experiences I have as a writer of a newly published book is hearing from readers. It happened with my first book, A Good Home: I got hundreds of notes and cards from readers.

Book photos - cards from Readers

This time, a new thing happened: readers started emailing me while still reading the book. Bloggers whom I knew and many readers whom I didn’t, wrote as they finished a chapter or part (the book has 3 parts).

I love it! 

I also love the surprises involved.

Jeanne at Still A Dreamer posted a beautiful remembrance of her dad’s garden.

I savoured every flower, every memory she described. Then, at the end of her post, came a surprise connection to An Honest House. A smile warmed my soul.  I was glad that reading about our farmhouse gardens had triggered Jeanne’s happy memories.

Blog Photo - White garden Bridal Wreath and Arbour

But when – over just 2 days — readers in 3 different countries wrote to praise “all the great food” in An Honest House, I was stunned.

The only great cook in this house is my husband. Could I really have written so much about food? It sent me scurrying to reread my own book. 

Eureka! There it was, dozens of mentions:

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Ladies


Food growing and being harvested from the garden.

Blog Photo - Garden harvest Basket tomatoes pumpkin

Food cooking on the stove or fresh-baked from the oven.

Blog Photo - Cake 2

Pots of jelly burbling.

Blog Photo - Jelly in Pot


And there it was: 

Blog Photo - Apples in Bowl

The joy of making apple pies, apple crepes and jellies – from our own rare apples.

Blog Photo - Kitchen harvest table

The delight that comes from knowing that almost every ingredient in a meal has come from one’s own garden.

Blog Photo - Tomato Yellow


Family and friends having supper — cooked by our resident chef.

Blog Photo - Robert Family Visit Dish CU

Blog Photo - Robert and Family on the Verandah
Above 2 photos by Robert Vernon

And, of course, the hilarity that follows my guests’ discovery that I’ve ruined yet another simple dish.


Running gag among family and friends:

Me: Hi there. Will you please come over for supper?

Them: Ah…hmm… who’s doing the cooking?


I learned that sometimes, what you think you are writing and what the reader is getting may be not exactly the same. I knew that I wanted to infuse this (sometimes painful) book with my family’s gratitude and joy in life’s simple pleasures. But it took my readers to tell me how much I’d written about food.

So:  ever wanted to write to an author whose book you enjoyed?

Do it. You might tell them something they didn’t know. 


A Good Home, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Thank you, Readers

Who was to know that a book completed in a time of such pain and agony would become a comfort and inspiration to so many readers? Not me.

The earlier parts of my book, A Good Home, had been written over 25 years. Some of those stories are hilarious, and I hoped that readers would recognize their own experiences and foibles in these stories, and laugh along with me.

But home isn’t always a fun place to be, and my editors, first readers, family and health professionals felt I also had to write about what happens when a home becomes a prison – as was the case after a car accident left me injured and house-bound for long stretches of time.

Stack of JournalsI finally decided to crack open the journals I’d kept. I hated reading them at first and wept often.

But the insights I gained — from transcribing parts of those journals into story form — are priceless additions to the book. Once added, it became clear that the story I’d been writing for decades – a story about home and family – was finally complete.

Book photo - stack of books

I hoped the book would offer some insights to people going through big changes in their lives – whether it was moving to a new home or dealing with a major life challenge. In fact, this was my main reason for releasing a book that is so personal. But I wasn’t sure how readers would respond.

I got my first clue when a few readers wrote to say “I just couldn’t put this book down” and had stayed up all night to read it.  Several readers said they didn’t want the book to end, and actually slowed down their reading of the last few chapters to savour every word”!


Book photos - cards from Readers

Merri Lynn wrote: “I do not often finish a book sensing a longing for it to continue, a sadness that I have finished it, a desire to know more. Although I read constantly and on a wide variety of subjects, that feeling does not occur often. It just happened with your book.”

On the phone, another reader, Allan, told me:

“Cynthia, your book made me laugh a lot. 

 And then it made me cry. I wept.”

“I’m so sorry, I replied.

“No need, Allan said. “What a wonderful book you’ve written. I’ll probably read it again.”

That’s been a common theme. Many people are re-reading the book. The letters have been pouring in from readers in Canada, the US, the UK, the Caribbean, S. Africa, Denmark and elsewhere. Many are long e-mail letters. Some are short notes — a paragraph or two. Some come in the form of cards and letters, sent in the mail.

One reader, Diane, even sent me a sweet little card of a pink house! (My first childhood home was pink.)

All reveal how deeply they have been touched by A Good Home.

A Godo Home - reader card pink house

I read every letter carefully. Some take my breath away as they describe the depth of feeling and memory evoked by the book. Some surprise me at the insights they got from A Good Home. And then there are those who re-read whole parts of the book for comfort. One of them is Muriel, a gifted artist who struggles with chronic pain. She’s read the book three times. She’s even turned a few quotes from my book into daily mantras that help her cope.

“As Oprah used to say, wrote Sandra, “I want to buy all my friends a copy of this book.” And that’s exactly what a number of readers have been doing. Mae, Anne, Lorna, Carol, Keith, Shirley, Karlene and Lloyd all read the book and loved it, and immediately ordered more copies as gifts for family and friends.  Many of those friends have done the same.  That may explain why some independent bookstores are on their second or third order in a matter of weeks.

Libraries and book clubs are also doing their part. The London Public Library was the first to order my book, followed by public libraries in Waterloo, Kitchener, Toronto and others.  And book clubs are selecting A Good Home . What an honour! Thank you.

I didn’t know what to expect when I completed and published this book.  I am thankful to you, my readers, for the fabulous way in which you have responded to A Good Home. There will be more news to share in the months ahead, and I will. Thanks again.