We’ve come to the third installment of Sheila Seiler Lagrand’s Remembering for Ruth serialized novel, and this one is entitled The Bark of Zorro.
The story so far: Paul and Margot Goodharte live in California, and are caring for Paul’s mother Ruth, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Paul’s something-of-a-black-sheep brother Matthew turns up, becomes interested in next-door neighbor Sue, and explains his intention to help care for Ruth. In The Bark of Zorro, Matthew and Sue take Ruth to visit a friend in the town where Matthew lives, and Matthew’s estranged daughter Amelia visits at the same time. Confrontation and tears follow, with lots of unanswered questions. In the meantime, after a welcome day of eating out and generally goofing off, Paul and Margot return home to find Zorro, the dog belonging to former neighbors, tied to their front porch.
Like the previous two installments, this one includes recipes at the end: chicken in lovely sauce, egg noodles, cranberry buttermilk coffee cake, cheater peanut butter kiss cookies, and mom’s meatloaf. (Lagrand likes sharing her recipes; I’m sure these are all non-fat and low-cal.)
If you’re interested in serial fiction, Wikipedia has a good article about it, and points out the following:
It became popular in 19th century Victorian Britain, and The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1837) tremendously popularized the form.
It was equally popular in 19th France, and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas ran to 139 installments (if Sheila’s runs this long, that means she will finish in January of 2024).
The form stayed popular until the mid-20th century, likely done in by radio (which also did serial broadcasts) and then television.
Tom Wolfe published The Bonfire of the Vanities in serial form in Rolling Stone (27 installments) starting in 1984, and then revised it substantially when it was published a a formal novel. Other contemporary authors who have tried serial publication include Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Michael Faber, and Orson Scott Card.
No surprise: the rise of ebook publishing and the internet is renewing interest in serial publication, like Remembering for Ruth.
Remembering for Ruth, Part 1: Mitchell Meets Matthew
Remember for Ruth, Part 2: Paul Loves Snickerdoodles