Top Ten Tuesday:Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago.

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.

The topic this week is Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago. This is a hard topic because there are so many books that I love that were written over ten years ago. So, I have tried to choose books I haven’t featured before on my blog. I’ve linked them to either Goodreads or Amazon UK.

Chatterton by Peter Ackroyd (published in 1987). I have had this book for so long that I can’t remember when I bought it. Thomas Chatterton was an 18th century poet, a forger and a genius, whose life ended under mysterious circumstances. He died in 1770 when he was 18. His death was thought to be suicide: But what really happened?

A Passage to India by E M Forster (published in 1924). This was the first of Forster’s books that I’ve read. Dr Aziz is a young Muslim physician in the British Indian town of Chandrapore. One evening he comes across an English woman, Mrs Moore, in the courtyard of a local mosque; she and her younger travelling companion Adela are disappointed by claustrophobic British colonial culture and wish to see something of the ‘real’ India. But when Aziz kindly offers to take them on a tour of the Marabar caves with his close friend Cyril Fielding, the trip results in a shocking accusation that throws Chandrapore into a fever of racial tension.

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris (published in 2005). At St Oswald’s, a long-established boys’ grammar school in the north of England, a new year has just begun. For the staff and boys of the school, a wind of unwelcome change is blowing. Suits, paperwork and Information Technology rule the world; and Roy Straitley, the eccentric veteran Latin master, is finally – reluctantly – contemplating retirement. But beneath the little rivalries, petty disputes and everyday crises of the school, a darker undercurrent stirs.

Pictures of Perfection by Reginald Hill (published in 1994). High in the Mid-Yorkshire Dales stands the traditional village of Enscombe, seemingly untouched by the modern world. The disappearance of a policeman brings Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and DCI Peter Pascoe to its doors. As the detectives dig beneath the veneer of idyllic village life a new pattern emerges: of family feuds, ancient injuries, cheating and lies. And finally, as the community gathers for the traditional Squire’s Reckoning, it looks as if the simmering tensions will erupt in a bloody climax…

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, one of the most devastating and heartbreaking novels I’ve read (published in 2007). The book, which spans a period of over 40 years, from the 1960s to 2003, focuses on the tumultuous lives and relationship of Mariam and Laila, two Afghan women. Mariam, an illegitimate child, suffers from the stigma surrounding her birth and the abuse she faces throughout her marriage. Laila, born a generation later, is comparatively privileged during her youth until their lives intersect and she is also forced to accept a marriage proposal from Rasheed, Mariam’s husband.

The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard (published in 1988). The first in the Cazelet Chronicles. In 1937, the coming war is only a distant cloud on Britain’s horizon. As the Cazalet households prepare for their summer pilgrimage to the family estate in Sussex, readers meet Edward, in love with but by no means faithful to his wife Villy; Hugh, wounded in the Great War; Rupert, who worships his lovely child-bride Zoe; and Rachel, the spinster sister.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (published in 2005). Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth. But the sisters’ campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe’s darkest history and sends them back to roots they’d much rather forget . . . .

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (published in 1946). I first read this as a teenager. It’s the first book in the Gormenghast trilogy, a gothic fantasy whose strange characters’ lives are dominated by the labyrinthine castle of Gormenghast and its ancient rituals.Titus, heir to Lord Sepulchrave, has just been born, he stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that stand for Gormenghast Castle. There are tears and strange laughter; fierce births and deaths beneath umbrageous ceilings; dreams and violence and disenchantment contained within a labyrinth of stone.

Dark Fire by C J Sansom (published in 2004). I love all the books in the Shardlake series. This is the second book, set in England in 1540. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . .

A Jealous Ghost by A N Wilson (published in 2005). This is a re-writing of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. There is something rather disquieting about Sallie Declan, a young American in London, who is obsessed with The Turn of the Screw, the subject of her PhD. thesis. She leaves her studies for a temporary job as a nanny in a large country house and builds a fantasy about her emotional future there. Surely she can see it is all delusion? But a progressively darker reality unfolds leading inevitably to a terrible and shocking climax. It’s good, although not as good as Henry James’s novel.

20 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday:Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago.

  1. There’s a puzzle at the heart of each of these books, or so it seems to me. I’m very much interested in Chatterton, and I think there’s a TV adaptation too of Titus Groan? Eager to get my hands on both. Thanks for the recs, it’s a great list!

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    1. I first read Gormenghast when I was at school. I’d found the books in my local library and devoured them, amazed at the story and it’s macabre, dreamlike and fantastic setting. The strangeness of it captivated me.

      Years later I watched the BBC’s serialisation Gormenghast (the first two books) and bought the books to re-read them.


  2. These are wonderful choices, Margaret! The Forster is a classic, of course, and I love it that you have a Sansom here, too. And Pictures of Perfection is a great example of Hill’s writing. Nice breadth and depth in your choices this time!

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  3. Pictures of Perfection is such a great book! I’ve always said On Beulah Height is my favourite Hill, but my recent re-reads have made me re-consider, and I now think Pictures of Perfection is the one I love best.

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    1. I read Pictures of Perfection years ago and never got round to writing about it. Now I don’t remember much about it, so I’m going to have to reread it soon. I love On Beulah Height, probably my favourite Hill up to now.

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