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Foodie Lit
Florence Osmund's They Called Me Margaret

Like Florence Osmund, author of They Called Me Margaret, main character, Margaret Manning, is a successful independently published author.  Margaret is in the process of writing her 7th mystery novel and opening a bookstore selling indie books. What an indie writer’s dream!


I asked Florence if Margaret’s experiences as an author came from her own as a writer. Not surprisingly the answer was yes. What was surprising was how her how her novel changed her own life!  “Most of what I wrote about the writing process and industry comes from my own experience. I’ll share a personal tidbit. After I wrote the book, I got to thinking about the perfect writing sanctuary I had created for Margaret and then asked myself why I didn’t live in a similar setting. So, after living in downtown Chicago for almost 30 years, I sold my condo and bought a cozy house on a small lake in northern Illinois, the perfect setting for writing more books. As for brick-and-mortar bookstores, unfortunately they are disappearing, so establishing one just for indie books is not likely going to happen…but I loved the idea.”  Life imitates art!

Florence Osmund photo.webp
They Called Me Margaret Cover.webp

Despite the perfect writing sanctuary,  not all is not going smoothly in Margaret’s life. While her husband first claimed to have read her novels. now he says he didn’t, Margaret is not so sure.  Plot segments from her mysteries are entering her life. Online negative reviews are anonymously appearing with words that her characters spoke. Is her husband Carl responsible? Some of her favorite lucky totems have disappeared, including those from her mother, who disappeared when Margaret was 6. Who is taking them? Is Carl trying to drive her over the edge and then have her committed? Is she really like her father’s Aunt Rosie, who was certifiably crazy?!


While some parts of the novel are humorous, there are serious themes of trust and betrayal, broken relationships and a saving grace of women supporting women. Florence writes, “I believe that both trust and love are requisite for a successful relationship between two people, but trust is more foundational than love—it would be difficult for someone to truly love others he or she didn’t trust.”


Mental illness  and its development are handled very well by the author, showing its gradual growth, its complications and inconsistencies, and its apparent confirmation by life experiences. And we as readers are not sure what has occurred in Margaret’s and in her imagination. Neither is she.


Margaret does know, despite any reality checks that she needs to take, that her husband has betrayed her. She doesn’t trust him. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that betrayal by friends is one of life’s worst experiences. We can expand from friendship to family- spouses, parents, children. When we lose trust in a loved one, we are wounded. 


Is there a difference when women support women or when men do? Florence thought that this depended on the circumstance and the people. The she told me something that was humorous, ironic and true at the same time. “Men are the current experts at supporting one another (think of the good ol’ boys clubs). Women can learn from them.”


Margaret is resilient, as are the women she calls her best friends: Marilyn, her mother, Katherine, her mother-in law, and her daughter Portia. They have all wounded Margaret but she finds that redemption is possible. And in that hope of redemption for all of them, Margaret finds a new life. The door has opened and Margaret has left some of her sadness behind. With these other women, she finds strength, a new purpose and trusted individuals who keep her on the path of reality. 

Margaret loves desserts. Florence and I are sure that she would like my Lavender Blueberry Afternoon Cake, although she might have it of breakfast or a midnight snack as well! Delicious and pretty, the cake freeze well, so make extra for future meals or as gifts for family or friends.

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