Mrs Keiller’s Marmalade by S M Boland
Realtime Price: £1.99
Mrs Keiller’s Marmalade is a book about marmalade, the isolation of old age, respect for tradition and the pain of abandonment. Maggie Keiller is a fictional descendent of John Keiller, the last patriarch of Keiller marmalade, whose clan famously created the first ‘Dundee Marmalade’. She is married John’s son Billy Keiller in 1909 but lost him in the same year to a storm which visited their small enclave of Auchobane, a village perched precociously on the Dundee coastline of North-East Scotland. Forward fifty years, and Maggie lives a lonely life in Rose Cottage surrounded only by her jars of fine and vintage homemade marmalade. Her only visitor is Dougie, an elderly grocery man and decorated veteran. Maggie’s life is changed when she unexpectedly receives a letter from her estranged niece in London, asking for haven for her teenage daughter. Maggie takes her on, not out of affection for her niece whom she loathes, but to fill the void left by her childless marriage. Isla arrives in 1969, a year on the cusp of a revolution in the London she has just left, and in her own life, hiding the pregnancy she has kept from her mother. Maggie teaches Isla about her heritage, and hopes to pass on to her the tradition of marmalade making. For Isla, abandoned by mother and lover, and struggling to cope with the imminent arrival of an unwanted child, her bond with Maggie becomes a channel to help regain the self-esteem taken from her over her young years. The book culminates in Isla’s entry into the silver spoon Marmalade competition, fifty years after Maggie Keiller had taken the same prize.
Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction