Archive for the ‘Rosemary Taylor’ Category

Chicken Every Sunday: My Life with Mother’s Boarders by Rosemary Taylor ~ 1943. This edition: Blakiston, 1945. Hardcover. Illustrated by Donald McKay. 307 pages.

My rating: 6.5/10.

A nostalgic trip down memory lane. This fictionalized autobiography fits well into the “humorous memoir” genre so popular a half-century ago. If you enjoyed Cheaper by the Dozen (Galbraith), and The Egg an I (MacDonald) you will find this a pleasing read. The rating feels a bit low, but it’s not meant to be a snub, just a reflection of where this book fits in with other similar works which I have read and enjoyed over the years. It’s pleasant enough and I will happily recommend it if you come across it “cheap and easy”, but I doubt I would deliberately search it down unless I were particularly interested in the era and setting.

*****

I purchased this old hardcover recently, for a reasonable $5, at Second Glance in Kamloops, B.C. – a WONDERFUL secondhand bookstore, by the way, for any of us local enough to visit it in person. The title rang a faint bell in deepest memory, and once I dipped into it I realized that I had indeed read it years ago. It must have been as part of my mother’s library, though she no longer owns it – it obviously did not survive her many give-ways as she prepared to move from her huge house (two stories plus a packed-full attic) to the much tinier “granny house” she lives in now.

I’m a bit mystified as to why Mom parted with it, as it is just the kind of light memoir she generally enjoys, so I’m going to surprise her with it the next trip in to town with a box of books. At a physically frail 87, one of her few remaining pleasures is reading, and she keeps me busy searching my own shelves and scouting the secondhand emporiums for reading material; a chore I must admit I take on with great pleasure – an excuse to book shop! How much better does it get than having permission from your mother?!

The setting is Tuscon, Arizona, during the first decade of the 2oth Century; the boarding house that the author’s mother ran with such success was built in 1906, “far out in the country”, though, as predicted, the city soon came out to surround it during the boom times of the “roaring twenties”.

The father of the family was quite the wheeler-dealer; finances swung like a pendulum as deals succeeded or fell through; the mother decided to take matters into her own hands to ensure a steady enough income to feed the family, so she began to take in boarders. The book details the succession of quirky characters that passed through the Drachman family doors, as seen through the eyes of young Rosemary.

The incidents are well-presented and the characters are well-portrayed; I did enjoy reading this period piece and I will be keeping it (once my mother finishes with it) with my largish collection of similar works. The humor works most of the time; I smiled (rather than full-out laughed) throughout; the writing is more than competent. The author wrote another book of memoirs focussed on her father’s many enterprises (Ridin’ the Rainbow: Father’s Life in Tuscon, 1944), and several novels.

Apparently very popular at its time of publication, the book inspired a comedic 1944 stage play and then a 1949 movie of the same title, starring Dan Dailey, Celeste Holm, and a young Natalie Wood. (I see that the movie gets lackadaisical reviews on the few online sites I browsed through; I’ve never seen it and don’t plan on searching it out, so that’s all I can tell you.)

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