October’s Round Robin question is: What is your favorite book(s) of all time in
your favorite genre(s)? (You can include children’s books or non-fiction
or even magazines).
Sometimes a question seems to be easy-peasy and then, STOP PRESS, it’s anything but. What is my favourite book in a favourite genre?
How do we define ‘favourite’ for starters? Is it shown by the physical state the book has descended to? If so The Conceited Lamb must be high on my list. It was a ‘prize’ for perfect attendance so I’ve owned it for well over 60 years and clearly read it over and over when younger.
Also in this photo is a copy of JM Barrie’s Quality Street. The last time I appeared on stage was as a seventeen-year-old in the first act of Quality Street. It was a school production directed by the incomparable Dr MacQueen and great fun. This copy has wonderful pen and ink illustrations by Hugh Thomson. I always enjoy them.
The copy of Pride and Prejudice has lost its dust cover, but it, too, was a school prize. In 1960-61 it was considered suitable reading material for a primary age pupil. I wonder how it fares now? Was it responsible for my life-long attachment to and love of the Regency novel? Or was that the author of the other book here, Georgette Heyer. Difficult to tell. I love Jane Austen as it’s the moment when English becomes modern and, some slang aside, understandable to a twentieth century reader. Georgette Heyer’s work is so rich in detail and history. It is unflinching in the portrayal of the female state and its opposite, the male state.
However, it is funny. Many of the characters are unforgettable for reasons stretching from ‘charming’ to ‘diabolical’. Her language takes us into a world of its own. And, by and large, everyone has grey eyes. So much simpler to deal with when instructing the cover illustration.
Okay, here’s the shock horror moment: while I love a good story, and I do read modern writers as well as the comfortable old favourites, my preferred choice is often a non-fiction book.
I recently read Lara Maiklem’s wonderful Mudlarking. There are a lot of dropped pins in it, and a lot of which stairs are safest at low tide, but there’s so much more. In an easy, conversational style, she takes us along the shores of the Thames and brings in so much of the river’s history. I will read this one again.
Charge of the Parasols by Catriona Blake was recommended to me by medical friends when I said I was wrting about the Edinburgh Seven. I had to source it online, but I hope someone might reprint as it’s a joy.
I simply love information.
And so to my own books. Rosalie, above, is the most recent. It’s a contemporary story, but it’s set in a David Bryce house of my imaginining. Who was David Bryce? A Victorian architect who worked in the country house market. I used to visit one of his mid-century houses as a guest and developed an interest in his work. His signature was often a small, round tower-like flourish. In the house I visited, they contained the loos.
I bought a catalogue from the Christian Aid book sale of works by him and other Victorian architects. Like so many things I’ve read, it came into its own as research material in due course.
A new adventure set in Maldington House will be released by My Weekly on 10th December. Title not yet known, but it is Christmas themed.
In the meantime, check back here for a fresh anthology from Capital Writers. It’s for Hallowe’en so there will be spooks.
My fellow Robins are below. Who are their favourites?
Interesting choices, Anne. Of your choices, I did read Pride and Prejudice, but simply because I read every book in the school library and in the public library. It didn’t speak to me as a 17-year-old. Perhaps if I read it now…
The others are all new for my consideration. Thank you.
Hi Bob, thanks for dropping by. We do have ‘right’ moments for encountering things favourably. I can readily understand that P&P wasn’t for that 17 year-old boy. Anne
Anne, it’s great to see Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer appearing on lists in this Round Robin. Two of my favourite authors of all time. I love the sound of Mudlarking. I visit London a lot, and there is always something new to discover about the city. I’ve put this on my tbr. Thanks for the recommendation!
Hi Helena, We have mentioned Austen and Heyer a lot – quite right, too. Mudlarking is simply wonderful. Anne
If you enjoy non-fiction, try “Survival of the Sickest,” by Dr. Sharon Moalem, about how many of the diseases that plague us, were created by evolution to solve a problem that no longer exists. The one I knew about already, that he doesn’t talk about, is the fact that if you have sickle cell anemia, you will never get Malaria. So evolution wanted people to survive long enough to procreate and solved one problem, mosquito-borne malaria, by creating a disease that even now can be deadly for those born with it. Fascinating stuff! Chapters like, “Why you and your I-Pod must die.”
Fiona, I’ve not encountered that theory but it sounds so interesting. Thanks for mentioning it. I’ll look for Moalem’s book. anne
Ah – a fellow appreciator of Georgette Heyer. I started with her regencies which still, in my mind, are the best of the regency genre. Her heroes and heroines pushed the envelope and in doing so, became memorable for being out of the genre mold. I have every single one on my library shelf in print. Then came her historicals and mysteries.
Hi skye, So many romance writers started with Georgette Heyer. I always think she also shares a part in my playwriting impulse as her dialogue is so good. anne
We all seem to share a love of certain authors, but also have diverse interests and books that go with them! Enjoyed your post, Helena.
Oh, Lord, Anne! Sorry, I used the wrong name. My mind has been preoccupied this weekend.
Hi Rhobin, not to worry. Helena s a great author to be mstaken for. Names are my huge failing so I can’t complain. I do agree with your comment – the same names have appeared a lot. anne
I read all of Jane Austen’s books in school, and then had all of them in a lovely set which I let go when I immigrated to Canada. I still regret parting with that set but have all her titles on my Kindle. Mudlarking sounds a delightful and fascinating read. It’s now on my wish list.
Hi Victoria, It must be so difficult deciding what to throw and what to keep. I’ve not done it very much, but at my age, the biggie is not as far over the hill as I’d maybe like. Anne