In the 19th century, one of the most popular magazine forms was the serial story – publishing succeeding episodes of a novel over an extended period, usually one episode or installment a month. Charles Dickens originally published most of novels this way, and both radio and television borrowed the idea for broadcast programs and soap operas.
I’d heard that the serial form had been making something of a comeback in print, or actually in e-print, especially for e-book readers like Kindle and Nook. But I hadn’t actually seen in until I read Sheila Seiler Lagrand’s Remembering for Ruth: Paul Loves Snickerdoodles (try saying “snickerdoodle” with a straight face; I can’t).
This is the first installment of a serialized offshoot of Yankee Doodle Christmas by Lagrand and Kathy Macias. It takes the characters of that installment and gives them their own further story development (something that’s also familiar from television).
Paul, a pastor, and Margot Goodharte (pay attention to names; it isn’t just the format that’s been adapted from Dickens) live in central California, caring for Paul’s mother Ruth. Ruth has Alzheimer’s, and the way her character is developed by Lagrand is a fine description of an Alzheimer’s patient. Ruth and Margot are making cookies, when Margot goes to the pantry for more sugar. Using a stepladder to reach the ingredient, she falls and is knocked unconscious. Ruth sits and waits patiently for Margot’s return; two hours later, the next-door neighbor comes inside to find the unconscious Margot. Emergency responders are called; Ruth keeps asking if Margot has been shot.
Using the hospital backdrop, Lagrand sets up the story – conflict between Paul and his black sheep older brother Matthew; the church lady determined to help protect Paul’s good name; and what looks like the beginning of a budding romance between Matthew and the next-door neighbor.
Paul Loves Snickerdoodles promises to be a fun, enjoyable read. And there’s even a Snickerdoodle recipe (among others) at the end of the installment.
I still can’t say “snickerdoodle” without smiling.