It’s been a while since I wrote anything about books and believe me I have been writing this post in my head for well over a month. A couple of months ago I became a student again and the books I read in the evening after I collapse in bed are uplifting and enjoyable, just to take my mind off accounting related issues (yep, that’s my new career path, pretty different to TV production, don’t you think?).
India Knight had a lovely list on her blog of the most uplifting books and I was happily reading through it but imagine my despair when I discovered yesterday that the blog has been deleted. What am I to do? I remember only few!
I am determined to read all the unread paper books I have in my house and shift most of them to a charity shop, I love my Kindle and I’m trying to gather everything that I like in it. The above pile has been in a briefcase for a while and the time has come to go though it. Of course I have some nice coffee table books, few treasured vintage copies and gifts that I am intending to keep but the collection of Victorian novels is definitely going (especially when they are available for free as digital versions).
So what does a market basket have to do with books? Well, few weeks ago I read all the Mapp and Lucia books by EF Benson and they are very very enjoyable funny parody of upper-middle class people living in 20s and 30s. The books are based in few places but the best ones are in Tilling, which is based on Rye, one of my favourite little towns in England. In the novels all the snobbish, pretentious, bitchy and nosy characters go out every morning to do marketing with their baskets in order to get and spread the latest gossip. As I read the books my appetite for a market basket grew and grew and grew so my husband got me a French one from Labour and Wait and I love it so much it goes pretty much everywhere with me. The books are wonderfully funny and there is even a very good Channel4 TV series.
Another series of books that India Knight had on the list (attempt of the list at the bottom) is The Darling Buds of May by H.E. Bates. I just read the first book and this novel has got everything that a good summer read needs: a farm in Kent, strawberry picking, constant talk about food, romance, singing nightingales and a whole lot of lighthearted humour. The TV series was shot in the delightful village of Cranbrook and I was lucky to visit it last year, the actual farm is a tourist attraction and there is a classic car show on 14th of July. I sadly cannot make it but I will be sure to go to the next event.
Then I read a couple of food-heavy books, the first one is Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and it is fantastic, it also includes full recipes, it’s like a cookbook with a storyline, just what I like. The other book is called Pear-Shaped by Stella Newman and you can probably read it in a day on a beach, it’s a story of a heartache, set in London, with a whole lot of dessert. The protagonist is a dessert specialist at a supermarket chain and I caught myself browsing supermarket desserts today (fresh and frozen!). I didn’t buy any.
I had a couple of recommendations from different sources: Rector’s Daughter by F.M. Mayor which was a very slow, depressing read and somehow not very satisfying however the other book was an absolute pleasure to read – Barbara Comyns’ Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead. It tells a story of a village which first gets flooded and then a mysterious plague breaks out. Some change and some die. It reminded me of Cold Comfort Farm. A genius book and I will be reading Comyns’ other books soon.
Edit: Fully updated list.
Here is the incomplete India Knight’s list of uplifting books, please feel free to add to it in comments, I would love to hear from you:
Nancy Mitford – pretty much everything
D.E. Stevenson – Miss Buncle’s Book
Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion
Stella Gibbons – Cold Comfort Farm and Nightingale Wood
Doddie Smith – I Capture The Castle
E. M. Delafield – The Diary of a Provincial Lady
Rosamund Lehmann – Invitation to the Waltz and Dusty Answer
P.G. Wodehouse – anything
HE Bates – The Darling Buds of May
Nora Ephron – Heartburn
EF Benson – Mapp and Lucia Books
Georgette Heyer – Grand Sophy and everything else
George Grossmith – The Diary of a Nobody
Winifred Watson – Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights
Elizabeth Jane Howard – The Cazalet Chronicles
Kathleen Windsor – Forever Amber
Elaine Dundy – Dud Avocado
Noel Streatfeild – Ballet Shoes
Barbara Pym – Excellent Women
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Monica Dickens – Mariana but I would also add One Pair of Feet and One Pair of Hands
Jilly Cooper – Riders and Rivals and the name books
Elizabeth von Arnim – The Enchanted April
Alexander McCall Smith – The 44 Scotland Street series
Margaret Mitchell – Gone with the Wind
Graham Greene – Travels with My Aunt
Raffaella Barker – Hens Dancing
Armistead Maupin – The Tales of the City series
Daphne Du Maurier – Rebecca and Frenchman’s Creek
Lynn Reid Banks – The L-Shaped Room
Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret garden
Louisa May Alcott – the Little Women books
Rose Macaulay – The Towers of Trebizond
Charlotte Bronte – Jane Eyre
Lorna Handvik – Angry Housewives eating Bonbons
Helen Hanff – 84 Charing Cross Road
Agatha Christie – Miss Marple books
Kate Atkinson – The Jackson Brodie books
Dorothy L Sayers – The Lord Peter Wimsey books
Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle – The Molesworth books
Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary
Vikram Seth – A Suitable Boy
Edit Wharton – The Age of Innocence
Mary Wesley – Not That Sort of Girl
Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House on the Prairie
Here are my additions although I cannot say if it belongs to the above list:
John Irving – A Prayer for Owen Meany
Sue Townsend – The Adrian Mole series
Helen Fielding – Bridget Jones Diary – there is a new Bridget Jones book coming out this autumn woot woot!
John Kennedy Toole – The Confederacy of Dunces – one of my favourite books ever
Paul Gallico – Mrs ‘arris Goes to Paris
Elizabeth Gaskell – North and South
Lucy Maud Montgomery – the Anne of Green Gables series
everything by India Knight
Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Making of a Marchioness
Mollie Panter-Donnes – Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Donnes