Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.
This week’s topic is Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About (This is for the books you liked, but rarely come up in conversation or rarely fit a TTT topic, etc.)
These are books I read before I began blogging. First is book I bought in an airport bookshop waiting to board a plane:
It’s Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. I had never heard of Anita Shreve, but I liked the look of this book – and the fact that it’s a chunky book of nearly 600 pages, so, good to read on holiday. It’s set in the summer of 1899 when Olympia Biddeford and her parents are on holiday at the family’s vacation home in Fortune’s Rocks, a coastal resort in New Hampshire. She is fifteen years old and this is the story of her love affair with an older man. I read more by her later and whilst I enjoyed her early books, I wasn’t so taken with her later ones.
Carol Shields is another author I’d never heard of until picked up Happenstance whilst at Gatwick Airport, waiting for another plane to go on holiday. I began reading it in the departure lounge, then on the plane and round the hotel pool, then passed it on to my husband. It’s written in two halves – one telling the wife’s story, then you turn the book round and upside down and there is the second half telling the husband’s. Both tell their stories of a certain period in their lives from their own point of view. I read the wife’s side first. I didn’t talk about it to my husband just gave him the book and he read the husband’s side first. Then we discussed it and of course we both had different views on it. I’ve since read and enjoyed several more of her books
The Memory Box – Margaret Forster – A young woman leaves a sealed memory box for her baby daughter before she dies. Years later, as a young woman herself, Catherine finds her mother’s box full of unexplained, even bizarre objects. Finding out what the objects represent is her only chance to find out about the mother she never knew. A lovely book.
The Thornbirds – Colleen McCullough. I read this many years ago and have never forgotten it. In the rugged Australian Outback, three extraordinary generations of Cleary’s live through joy and sadness, bitter defeat and magnificent triumph – driven by their dreams, sustained by remarkable strength of character…and torn by dark passions, violence and a scandalous family legacy of forbidden love.
The Falls – Joyce Carol Oates. this was the first of Oates’ books I read and I loved it. A man climbs over the railings and plunges into Niagara Falls. He’s a newly-wed, and his bride has been left behind in the honeymoon suite the morning after their wedding. For two weeks, Ariah, the deserted bride, waits by the side of the roaring waterfall for news of her husband’s recovered body.
Possession – A S Byatt is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time.
Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers combines two stories, that of Julia Garnet, a retired school teacher, who goes to Venice prompted by the death of a friend, and that of Tobias and the Angel, which she sees in the Guardi panels in the Chiesa dell’ Angelo Raffaele. This is a beautiful book.
The Soldier’s Return – Melvyn Bragg, a novel about the aftermath of the Second World War. Sam Richardson returns home to Wigton in Cumbria where he finds the town little changed. But the war has changed him. His six year old son barely remembers him and his wife has gained a sense of independence from her wartime jobs. There are two further books to complete the story – A Son of War and Crossing the Lines. All three books are outstandingly good.
Glittering Images – Susan Howatch. The first in her Church of England series. I loved the whole series when I read them years ago. This book is set in 1937 and beneath the smooth surface of an episcopal palace lurks the sordid breath of scandal. Charles Ashworth, a Canon to the Archbishop of Canterbury is sent to untangle the web of corruption, only to become involved himself. I’m not an Anglican so I was fascinated by the description of the hierarchy within the church as well as all the scandals.
An Alien at St Wilfred’s by Adrian Plass is another book about an Anglican church, but this is very different from Susan Howatch’s series. It’s very funny, about a small alien, calling himself Nunc who comes to live in a parish church and learns to speak Prayer Book English. His effect on the vicar and the congregation is hilarious.