Cover image for Chicken feed
Chicken feed
Fritchley, Alma, 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Women's Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
222 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
"A Letty Campbell mystery."
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Letty Campbell is ready to settle in for three long months of loneliness while her lover, Anne, is away on a lecture tour in America. Before Letty can even get around to feeding the chickens on her West Yorkshire farm, however, Anne's mysterious younger half-sister, Laura, shows up unexpectedly. Though Laura soon departs, she leaves Letty in charge of her young daughter. The ensuing tangle of former lovers, friends and enemies makes this tale difficult to follow. Letty herself can hardly make sense of the ties binding one character to the next. The hint of a crime doesn't appear until midway through the book, when a controversial lesbian Member of Parliament‘the current lover of Letty's ex-flame‘disappears. Curiously, Letty does not investigate the peculiar coincidences and odd behaviors that surround her, leaving readers to piece together the vague clues themselves. In the end, a battered Letty literally stumbles onto the mystery's solution. Fritchley's characters are fun and engaging, but their complicated doings are related in a plot line as squiggly as, well, the path of a chicken pecking at its feed. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

While lover Anne is away on an American lecture tour, Letty becomes involved in the dangerous tribulations of a woman and child who appear on the doorstep of her bucolic British chicken farm. A charming, lightweight sequel to Chicken Run (LJ 6/1/98). (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One When I waved Anne off at the airport, I was convinced I'd never see her again. I blame the ancient Babylonians. Them and the International Women's Day celebrations held in San Francisco.     You wouldn't think these events would go hand in hand would you? Babylon, San Francisco and International Women's Day don't seem to have an obvious common theme. Anne, my lover, and her librarian cronies, however, would have no problem making the connection.     I'll explain, but briefly, lest I bore you.     Anne, sadly, was lost to the plight of the much-maligned Old Testament Babylonians. No matter how often she invited me to share this strange and fascinating era of history, somehow I couldn't drag myself away from Brookside to join her. Hard to believe that I'm in the minority here. When word got out that Anne had put pen to paper, or in this case microchip to word processor, and was actually writing about the subject, well, the phone never stopped. We had calls from the strangest places. Scribes from Saudi, Singapore and Southport wanted a piece of the action. Far from being a weird subculture, Anne's work had tapped into a vein that seemed to hold worldwide interest. It was, and still remains, a mystery to me.     Of our four-year relationship, I'd lost twelve months to a defunct tribe and a dead language. But it made Anne happy, and eventually marginally famous -- enough, at any rate, for the female literati to invite her over to the States for countrywide lectures. That impressed me no end, except for several things. We had no idea where the lectures were to be held. I know that sounds crazy, but final arrangements were yet to be made. She would only know herself when she arrived in the States. Anne would be gone for three months and there was no way, no how, that I could go with her. I have a farm to run and even her eccentric niece, AnnaMaria, wouldn't agree to look after chickens for that length of time.     So two days before International Women's Day and Anne's first lecture, Manchester Airport was witness to a lesbian ritual as old as time itself. Tears, fears and promises were exchanged as other travellers pretended we didn't exist. With her own not insignificant work of non-fiction tucked under her arm, my soon-to-be-missed lover left me with a kiss and a final hug. My last impression of this handsome woman was the whoosh of her long coat against her woollen trousers as she hurried to the departure lounge.     The true pain of missing her would hit me later, but for now emptiness, like a peculiar hunger, filled the space between breast and stomach.     My attempts to quell the feeling by stuffing my face with overpriced airport junk food failed. Vegeburger and chips were not what I needed. The next flight out would probably have done the trick, but images of starving chickens left me guilt-ridden and AnnaMaria's disapproval would have haunted me all my days. I had no choice but to go home. Calderton, West Yorkshire, home of my Little Farm on the Prairie, was a mere hour and a half away. A simple abode of pine walls and furniture, it was big enough for Anne, her niece and me to rattle around in comfortably.     There'd been several changes, though, since we began to live together. A librarian (with international links via the recently accessed Internet), Anne had changed dramatically with her growing interest in all things biblical. Women priests and vicars of different denominations and faiths had become frequent visitors after her theological articles had appeared in various publications. Anne had had many a late night with these women, the culmination of which (despite the unfortunate title) was the unexpected hit Babylon, Then and Now .     She took a six-month career break, bought the computer, tapped into the Internet (neither of which would be touched before her return) and pissed off abroad.     I knew I was bitter. I was also upset and lonely, and I was dreading getting home, knowing that's where I'd miss her most. The daily routine -- the tap, tap of her typing, the grinding of the fax and the constantly ringing phone -- while irritating, was part of her. But teatime, when everything was switched off, no matter what she was up to, was our time. In summer, tea in the garden, among the flowers and the clucking hens, maybe followed by a rare trip to the pictures in Leeds or a rarer foray to a club in Manchester. Winter saw us cuddled in front of a video, toasty beside the fire.     AnnaMaria was never in, ever. I sometimes thought she'd left home without telling us. Her work kept her busy, busier, busiest. A mechanic by trade, she'd sunk her savings into a car dealership with an old friend and ex-lover of mine, Julia.     Despite my reservations and Anne's unheeded warnings, AnnaMaria had taken the plunge and, amazingly, it had been successful in a small local way. Julia's big-time disasters of the past hadn't followed her to Calderton and the second-hand car business (mostly ex-company saloons or police vehicles fixed up by AnnaMaria and sold at a tidy profit by Julia) kept them both comfortably in pocket. They'd never make a fortune, but Julia had been down that road before and had been badly burnt. She was a bit too old and a bit too scared to compete with the big boys again.     So with everyone's absence accounted for, a dark and empty house beckoned. Or so I imagined. Copyright © 1998 Alma Fritchley. All rights reserved.