Mavis and Dot
A beautiful, moving letter arrived in my mailbox. Angela Petch sent me a letter she had penned to her late friend, Olga. Inspired by her friendship with Olga, she has composed a glorious seaside adventure about two heart-warming, hilarious characters called Mavis and Dot. Mavis and Dot was released on 14th November. Proceeds from sales of the fun novella will be donated to a cancer charity. It is my privilege to share Angela’s moving letter with you.
Instead of thinking too much about what I’m going to write to you, I’ll just dive in. Otherwise I’ll get maudlin and I only want to remember you with smiles.
When you stayed with us in Italy and you were already ill, in about five minutes you painted a water colour of tomatoes we were about to eat for lunch. It still hangs in Il Mulino.
Call me silly, but each Christmas I still pull out your beautiful home-made cards. When you stayed with us in Italy and you were already ill, in about five minutes you painted a water colour of tomatoes we were about to eat for lunch. It still hangs in Il Mulino.
You were talented. I laughed my head off when you were kind at my attempts – remember the day you held an art class and I tried to sketch your free-range chickens? They wouldn’t keep still, and I scribbled them out. Everybody thought I’d produced abstract art, when it was my temper. I can’t draw, but I write. And when I sent you my first Mavis and Dot story, you sent me an illustration. It’s in the front of Mavis and Dot,dedicated to you. (I’ve added Wendy Whiting’s name. She died of cancer a couple of months ago. You would have liked her – she was a painter too.)
Olga and Angela all dressed up: a special friendship.
We were Mavis and Dot when we went on our charity shop hunts – struggling up high streets with our goodies in various towns around Suffolk where we both lived, hamming it up. Our children were young, and it was an escape for us to have these days out. I hope you like the adventures I’ve given our two personae. In the novella, you do your art, but as a life model; we find a hideous bargain or two… do you remember that sketch we did together at your summer party, when we dressed up as Mavis and Dot, entering stage with our winter overcoats and shopping trolleys? And ending up doing a strip tease. We were dressed in huge plastic bags of a particular bargain store we used to haunt. Whenever I hear Shirley Bassey’s “Big Spender”, I smile at the memory.
And when I sent you my first Mavis and Dot story, you sent me an illustration. It’s in the front of Mavis and Dot, dedicated to you
We both loved days at the seaside. Once, with daughters in tow, we embarrassed them by stripping to our undies and jumping in to the waves; their shocked cries of “Mummm”encouraged us further.
Anyway, that’s all for now. I’ll finish with a poem I wrote at a party held in your honour not long after you left us. Big hugs and I hope you enjoy Mavis and Dot.
And we were there.
September sun warmed stubbled, Suffolk fields
The sky leant down and kissed the earth with warmth;
Woodsmoke spiralled up with laughs and squeals and times remembered.
Everyone shared, linked memories of
A girl who was there.
Not there to sit inside the tepees
That cocooned the lovers, friends and young;
Not there to dance upon the beer-stamped floor,
To music coaxed from eager, nervous hands.
She may have slipped in quietly
To welcome us with summer’s long-lost rays
Or been the breeze that fanned the brazier’s picture flames
And gently shook her father’s tree…
But she was there
In stories of her kindness and her gifts;
And she was there
In daughters’ eyes or silhouette or turn of phrase.
In ideas whispered to the man she loves,
Who magicked them to being.
And she was there because she always is
And always shall be.
How could she not?
And we were there.
Call me silly, but each Christmas I still pull out your beautiful home-made cards.
The wonderful friendship is conveyed in Angela’s magical words. Angela is a wonderful lady and her words brighten my day: her sensitivity and humour are amazing. She has a very special place in my heart, because I blogged my very first review about one of Angela’s novels. Since reading Now and Then in Tuscany, Angela has become one of my favourite authors. I would not have discovered Angela without my own accidental blogging adventures. I can’t wait to share my review of Mavis and Dot very soon.
Since getting to know Angela, I have followed her writing journey. She has published numerous stories in People’s Friend and is about to embark on her second publishing deal.
About Mavis and Dot
A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship. Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.”This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with a lot of readers.” Gill Kaye – Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer, Angela Petch’s seaside tale is a departure from her successful Tuscan novels. All profits from the sale of the books will go towards research into the cure for cancer.
“…Clever, touching and powerful writing… Embark on a series of adventures with Mavis and Dot but prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions.” Books in my Handbag.
More from Angela
I live in the beautiful Italian Apennines for several months each year. Such an inspiring location.
My love affair with Italy was born at the age of seven when I moved with my family to Rome where we lived for six years. My father worked for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and he made sure we learned Italian and visited many places during that time.
Later on I studied Italian at the University of Kent at Canterbury and afterwards worked in Sicily, where I met my husband. His Italian mother and British father met in Urbino in 1944 and married after a war-time romance.
I wanted to write “Tuscan Roots” not only for my amazing mother-in-law, Giuseppina, but also to make people aware of the courage and hospitality shown by families of our Italian neighbours in our corner of war-torn Tuscany.
This is my first novel and is a story about ordinary people who lived through extraordinary times. (Please note it is a revised version of “Never Forget”). I have just been signed by BOOKOUTURE for a two-book deal and one of these will be a slight re-write of “Tuscan Roots”. I am so proud to be a part of this publishing “family”, as they describe themselves.
A sequel to this book was published at the end of April 2017. “Now and then in Tuscany” features the same family that appeared in “Tuscan Roots”. The background is the transhumance, a practice that started in Etruscan times and continued right up until the 1950’s.
My research for both these novels has been greatly helped by my kind Italian, country friends, who have vivid memories of both the Second World War and the harsh times they endured in their childhoods.
Italy is a passion but my stories are not always set there. My next book is about two fun-loving ladies of “a certain age” who live by the seaside in Sussex and get up to all kinds of adventures. Watch out for Mavis and Dot! They will be launched on December 1st 2018 at St Paul’s Centre, Worthing, West Sussex.