A Difficult Top Ten

This week at The Broke and The Bookish the theme is ‘Top Ten Books for People who like X Author’, which is proving to be a tricky category for me mainly because (and here is a recent reading experience example) although I struggled when I originally read Lord of the Rings didn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy The Hobbit when I recently read it, and I think this is a reading feeling that can work both ways. On this basis I am going to focus on a few different authors as I think this will be easier from my point of view and offer a few possible reading suggestions.

If you like Evelyn Waugh you might also enjoy:

Madresfield by Jane Mulvagh – Exploring the house and the family behind Waugh’s famous novel Brideshead Revisited.

Any Nancy Mitford – Waugh and Mitford, as well as having a similar acid tongue and witty and accurate characterisation, were friends in real life, and I know I always enjoy reading novels by either of them for a glimpse into a particular aspect of British society of the twentieth century.

If you like Waugh and Mitford, you might enjoy:

The collection of their letters to one another. I’ll admit I haven’t read it, but it is on my TBR list.

If you like Nancy Mitford, you might enjoy discovering more about her and her fascinating family:

The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters edited by Charlotte Mosley – The six Mitford sisters (Nancy, Diana, Pamela, Unity, Jessica and Deborah) maintained a written correspondence which spanned their lives. In this collection Mosley, Diana’s daughter-in-law, has complied a variety of their letters spanning decades and cleverly depicting the amusments, complications and tragedies that the sisters faced.

Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford – Again not one I have read, but I keep hearing many good things about this.

Wait For Me by Deborah Devonshire – Debo is the youngest, and the only surviving Mitford sister and her autobiography offers a fascinating insight into not only the lives of the six sisters, but Deborah’s personal life and restoration of the beautiful Chatsworth House.

And finally whilst I am on a random journey across my bookshelf and this makes perfect sense to be in my little dot-to-dot link system

The Duchess by Amanda Foreman – Deborah Mitford is the current Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, which is how my little journey has arrived at Amanda Foreman’s historical biography of a previous Duchess of Devonshire. Georgiana lived from 1757-1806, and was a true icon of her age. She was influential in both fashion and later politics, something that was unheard of for a woman during that period; she was a drug addict, she had an affair with Earl Grey, but perhaps the most complicated and shocking aspect of her story is the relationship between her husband and her best friend and how Georgiana copes with this.

So yes a fairly random list of books, but I can see a clear link between them all and, as I said this is more a dot-to-dot of a certain area of my bookcase.

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Top Ten Characters That Remind Me…

of myself or those I know. It is Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish and this week’s category is literary characters that remind you of yourself or those you know, which is harder than you might think, so if I get to ten it will be a miracle.

1. Bridget Jones – Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding – Bridget reminds me of myself and quite a few of my friends. There are some factors that I don’t relate to, but on the other hand there are many times when I have said something/done something that is typically Bridget

2. Miss Marple – Agatha Christie – A mixture of my Mum and Grandma; the former who has always fancied herself as a detective and the latter who is just plain nosey

3. Linda – The Pursuit Of Love by Nancy Mitford – Linda reminds me of me and not just because we share the same name. When I was a lot younger I know I was selfish, cared more for animals than people and a bit of drama queen, and although I am nowhere near as bad as I was as a child, I am still a little bit like that. But as with all examples there are bits of her character and some of her actions that I know I do not relate to at all.

4. Hermione – Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling – I have a university friend who definitely reminds me of Hermione, so much so that when I first met her I didn’t like her because she seemed like a know-it-all. Now she is one of my best friends and I love her to pieces.

5. Georgia Nicholson – Series by Louise Rennison – When I was a teenager I loved this series, as did some of my friends, and one particular friend is exactly like Georgia, we even use some of her phrases in conversation.

6. Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – One Austen heroine had to turn up in this list, and I know it is a cliche to pick Lizzie, but I like to think I share some of her qualities and that I would be as brave as her in certain circumstances.

And that’s it! I can’t think of anymore, although I am sure inspiration will come to me.

Top Ten To Be Read This Summer

It is Tuesday, I have finshed my teacher training and time at uni (half sob, half yay) and am looking forward to the summer, so what better time to have a thnk about what I definitly want to read this summer. I have decided to follow a ‘read three books I haven’t read before, read one book I have read’ system, not sure how long it will last, but I have good intentions.

1. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – Dowloaded this on to the kindle awhile ago and I haven’t read any Dickens in ages.

2. Love In A Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford – I have read the novel that comes before this one and the one that comes afterwards, so I think it is about time I filled in the gaps.

3. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory – I love a good bit of historical fiction, so the opportunity to dive back in to a Philippa Gregory novel will be welcomed.

4. Appasionata by Jilly Cooper – I have been working my way through Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire Chronicles throughout my PGCE year; I normally pick one up as an after placement treat, but now I have finished entirely it is time to enjoy another one.

5. The Shooting Part by Isabel Colegate – A review of this novel was what first inspired me to start book blogging and I have had my eye on it ever since.

6. Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn – I love novels set during the early years of the 20th century; whether they are contemporary to that period or written by modern authors they always have me enthralled.

7. Regeneration by Pat Barker – I have read The Ghost Road as part of my teaching work experience, hopefully another good read.

8. Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh – When I first read Brideshead Revisited I did not enjoy it and it is not a novel I have returned to, but I might one day. However I have read a few other novels by Waugh and I LOVE them, his humour and depiction of various characters in British society is fantastic.

9. Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie – We started watching this on telly recently but as is always the case we missed half so I have no idea who dunnit?

10. Wicked by Gregory Macguire – Another reread. I have seen and enjoyed the musical since, can’t wait to reread the book with this in mind.

Who knows if I will stick to this reading list, only time will tell!

Top Ten Good Beach Reads

Firstly this topic is making me very sad that not only am I nowhere near the beach, especially not a beach like this…

but the weather in England is as typical and rainy as ever. Luckily there are some amusing sights to be seen to cheer one up when the weather gets too much, so yes the sky is grey and miserable, but there is always a giant haystack shaped like the Queen to bring a smile to one’s face!

I can dream about relaxing on a peaceful beach, so I hope and pray that this list wil inspire a sudden change in the weather.

For me the perfect beach read is easy, often trashy and doesn’t require much thinking, so don’t expect any literary classics to be making an appearance, although I might get to number ten and surprise myself.

1. Any Jilly Cooper…I love her and she definitly fulfills my three point beach criteria. Most of her novels are pretty long too, which I like in a beach read, because you don’t want to finish it in a day. I could essentially use up all my ten just naming her books, but I won’t bore people with that.

2. One Day by David Nicholls – I mentioned this novel in a previous ‘Top Ten’ posting, but it is perfect for the beach, romantic, original, funny, heartwarming; I can’t wait to read it again.

3. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – Another author who has made an appearance on one of my ‘Top Ten’ lists, but I have opted for her second book this time. I love how Morton mixes history with the present and how she uses this to create a gripping mystery. I have recommended her first two books to friends in the past, unfortunately I was not a fan of her third book, but hey ho!

4. Not Dead Enough by Peter James – Nothing beats a good crime novel, and Peter James is a recent discovery for me; shockingly an author recommended by my Mum, which is something that very rarely happens. James has created a series of novels set in Brighton, following the life of his detective Roy Grace. Like all good thrillers they are fast-paced, gripping and have short chapters, so are very difficult to put down.

5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier – Beautifully written and just perfect!

6. Any Gossip Girl Novel by Cecily Von Ziegesar – So I am going against my ‘I need long books on holiday’ by choosing this series, but I can vividly remember sitting under an exotic type of tree on a beach in Crete reading this when I was 14 and I have read and enjoyed the entire series on several occasions. I haven’t seen the TV show at all because I love the books and I have my own image of the characters in my head and hate ruining that.

7. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – Back to the crime novels and you can’t beat Christie.

8. Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding – I LOVE Bridget Jones, she is such a funny character and an ideal beach companion.

9. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory – Gregory’s writing is so complusive and the perfect historical escape.

10. Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling – You can’t beat Harry Potter for a relaxing and exciting read.

I have noticed a slight pattern in my good beach reads, in that the majority of them form part of a series or have reappearing characters. I guess this means I like to escape with familiar characters who I know well, which has the advantage of knowing, and hopefully loving, the characters beforehand, meaning I don’t have to worry too much about who is who…I really like an easy read! Now if the weather could just sort itself out I will be a merry bean!

Top Ten Baddies!

It’s Tuesday and it is a freebie over at The Broke and The Bookish and I have decided to focus on my top 10 bad guys (and girls) from various works of fiction. Some of them are worse than others as is the way of baddies. They are not in any particualr order, more just an as I think of them.

1. Willoughby – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Pictured here played by the gorgeous Dominic Cooper, Willoughby is charming, money hungry and essentially a bit of a cad (I love that word) He misleads poor Marianne and breaks her heart; the moment where he ignores her is heartwrenching!

2. Lady Catherine De Bourgh – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Sticking on the Austen front, and because I am reading Pride and Prejudice at the moment, I have chosen the vile Lady Catherine De Bourgh. She has yet to make an appearance in my reading, bar the incessant wittering of Mr. Collins, but she is horrible, snobbish and incredibly rude to our lovely Elizabeth Bennett.

3. Bill Sykes – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

My first experience of Oliver Twist and Dickens, was the 1960s musical Oliver! I can remember watching it constantly, back to back with Annie which was on the same video (yes that’s retro!) Bill Sykes is plain evil, he has no compassion, feelings or respect for anyone else and deservedly gets his just desserts.

4. Mrs Pratchett – Boy by Roald Dahl
One of my favourite children’s books, and my favourite Dahl book, Mrs Pratchett, the horrid sweet shop owner, is a figure all small children can hate..

5. Alec D’Uberville – Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy
Alec is wicked and a constant presence throughout Tess’s life. He mirrors the stain motif that appears throughout the novel, and for me is primary reason Tess struggles to find happiness.

6. Voldemort – Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling
I couldn’t really let Voldemort get away without a mention. For all the millions of people who have read the books, and watched the films, his appearance on this list should be self explanatory.

7. Rannaldini – Various Jilly Cooper novels
A pantomime-esque villain to boo and hiss at as I devour my favourite Jilly Cooper novels.

8. Rebecca – Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Sometimes villains and baddies lists can be overrun with male characters, so I had a little think about which fictional females I would add to the list, and Rebecca popped up. Perhaps she isn’t a conventional villain and there are other characters from the novel worthy of a place on the list, but the ending of this novel always shocks me, and I think she deserves to be here purely because of her final actions.

9. Lucy Audley – Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
My BA dissertation focused on female criminals in Victorian literature, and Lucy Audley was one of the women I researched and discussed. She is scheming and treacherous, lying and plotting murder purely to better her position in society!

10. Count Fosco – The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
Another Victorian criminal. I love Collins’ writing and the mystery and devious nature of Count Fosco makes fantastic reading!