Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Today the eye of the world is in Oslo, where the 17 year old teenager Malala Yousafzai, is collecting her award for winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

She is a Pakistani school girl who was shot in the head for wanting an education for girls. Now she is at school and resident in Birmingham. Malala was fighting for the rights of girls in education in Pakistan since she was twelve. But this phenomenon is not new.

My novel The Last Year of Childhood, is complete and deals with exactly this same problem, although in a different way, set at a different time, and in a different country.

Latchmin is 11, bright and ambitious, and wants to become a teacher. Her best friend Sumati is 14, beautiful and passionate, and has fallen in love with a local boy. 

But both their parents have arranged marriages for them to complete strangers. One is a much older man with two children. The other, has a reputation for being violent.

In their struggle to get out of these arranged marriages, things go very wrong, and they suffer consequences involving rape, violence and suicide. Their struggles are continuous as they try to help each other till the very end.


Here is a lovely recipe for Festive Tabouleh, which is lovely for Boxing Day for everyone, including Vegetarians. 

It is made with Bulgar Wheat, but could easily be done with couscous, or Cracked wheat, or rice. Whatever takes your fancy.

This will easily serve 4-6 people, or more if it is part of an array of dishes.


9oz Bulgar Wheat or Cracked wheat, soaked for 2-3 hours
1 handful fresh parsley - chopped
1 small handful fresh mint - chopped
1 pomegranate seeds
1 tin corn, drained - large or small
1 tin chick peas, drained
2 lemons - juice only
Sea salt flakes, (or ordinary salt) and black pepper, to taste
3 tbl sp olive oil
2 peppers (sweet and diced)
1 head Romanian lettuce (optional - not in photo)

Extra ingredients to make it extra special and Festive

1 onion - finely chopped
5 tomatoes chopped finely
extra pomegranate
half inch of fresh ginger chopped finely, use half tsp dry powdered
half tsp dry powdered cinnamon
quarter tsp grated nutmeg
quarter tsp mixed spice
quarter tsp powdered coriander spice

Also optional

Tangerines - chopped
Strawberries - chopped


. Drain bulgar wheat and cover in boiling water for 10 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed.
(if it is soft and ready and still has water, drain water away in a sieve)
. Add all ingredients and mix gently but well.
Line a large bowl with lettuce leaves and spoon in the Tabouleh into the centre

This a remarkably simple recipe that adds an extra special touch to cold meats on Boxing Day, or Summer salads.

Hope you try it and let me know how you got on. If you've any questions, please ask on the blog, or email me on

Check out some of my other recipes on this blog for Christmas.

Marilyn xx