The Bookish Time Travel Tag has been doing the rounds and I’ve been tagged by Sandra at A Corner of Cornwall to take part. It’s not been that easy coming up with my answers to some of the questions and it’s taken some time to write this post. But I have enjoyed it and would like to thank both Sandra and The Library Lizard, whose original idea this was.
What is your favourite historical setting for a book?
Not an easy question to start off with as I love reading historical fiction set in several periods and different countries. It’s hard to choose just one, but I love the Tudor period and historical crime fiction and so I’m highlighting C J Sansom’s Shardlake books set in the reign of Henry VIII for this question. Matthew Shardlake is a hunchbacked lawyer, but the books are more than crime novels – Sansom’s research is excellent, his characters are well drawn and the atmosphere and sense of place are convincing. I love his books.
What writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?
I’m not sure I want to do this, being a bit shy and I think I would feel very awkward. Maybe Jane Austen – she lived in such a different period from today and I would love to know more about her inspiration for writing and who was the inspiration for ‘Mr Darcy’.
What book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?
I would give myself The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J R R Tolkien. I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was in my early twenties and loved it, so much so that over the years I’ve re-read it several times. But somehow I ignored The Hobbit, maybe thinking that because it’s a children’s book it was too late for me to appreciate it. I only read The Hobbit three years ago after seeing the film, and then I realised how wrong I was not to have read it before ‘“ The Hobbit is a book that all ages can enjoy. But I do wish I’d read it first as a child.
What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?
By this The Library Lizard means ‘what book do you want to remind your older self of because it was really important to you?‘ One Christmas when I was a child my Great Aunty Sally gave me a beautiful little hardback copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, one of my favourite books of all time – and I no longer have that copy. I read it many times and loved it for its story and because she was my favourite aunty. I’ve looked everywhere for it. I now have this edition with the same illustrations. Appropriately for this tag one of its themes is time as Scrooge experiences scenes from the past, the present and the future.
What is your favourite futuristic setting from a book?
Most of the books I read now are set either in the present or in the past. But I did enjoy Frank Herbert’s Dune books with sandworms and the ‘spice’ drug when I read them years ago. The books are set in a far future, where warring noble houses (House Atreides and House Harkonnen) are kept in line by a ruthless galactic emperor. I can’t remember the details now, but remember that I was hooked on reading them.
What is your favourite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?
The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman is set before and during the Wars of the Roses and in particular it focuses on Richard III from his childhood to his death at Bosworth Field in 1485. I think this is one of the best historical novels that I’ve read. It is full of detail, well researched and very readable.
Spoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?
These days I resist skipping ahead as in the past I’ve immediately regretted knowing the end if I did. But if I know I’m not going to read to the end I sometimes look and if it looks interesting I have gone back and finished the book.
If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?
I wouldn’t want to travel to the future and I would only like to travel to the past as an observer, following the prime objective in Star Trek, so that my actions wouldn’t interfere with history. For example, I would like to go to Ancient Rome and see what it was like in its heyday, be there at a performance one of Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe, go to the Great Exhibition held at the Crystal Palace in May 1851, visit Australia (not in a convict ship) with the early settlers, see China with Gladys Aylward and watch Vesuvius erupt – from a safe vantage point.
Favourite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in multiple time periods?
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is a book covering so many different periods of history in different parts of the world. It’s about the hidden history of a book known as the priceless Sarajevo Haggadah ‘“ a medieval Jewish prayer – told in reverse chronological order beginning in 1996 and working back to 1480. It’s a story too of love and war, of family relationships, of Anti-Semitism and of historical religious conflicts as the haggadah survived disaster after disaster; a novel about preserving the past, its culture and history for future generations. It has depth and breadth and is beautifully written.
What book/series do you wish you could go back and read again for the first time?
Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet series – apart from the last book I read them in the 1990s before I began to write my blog. The first four of these follow the lives of the Cazalet family from 1937 to 1947 and the last book All Change written twenty years after the fourth book, Casting Off picks up their story beginning in 1956.