It has been my custom to start a New Year’s newsletter with a list of my 10 favourite books of the old year (please just take it for granted that my list always includes Jane Austen’s six novels). So … here is my list (alphabetical, according to author’s surname) and forgive me for a bit of cheating by including more than ten books.
- The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables by David Bellos. I wrote in detail about this book during the year. I was fascinated by every page and the one friend that I know of who took up my reading suggestions also loved it (so glad you did, Lyn).
- To Serve Them All my Days by R.F. Delderfield. This book begins at the end of WWI and starts at the beginning of WWII, and looks at the effect of the wars on a generation of young men. After reading the book, I watched the series and wondered why I had never come across this fabulous book before.
- Elly Griffiths, the Dr Ruth Galloway novels. This series of crime novels set in Norfolk and featuring an archaeologist and a police officer, really helped me to survive Covid. I just devoured them and am longing for the next one in the series (due out 4 January). Thank you, Elly Griffiths, for the amazing therapy that your novels provided. The series begins with The Crossing Places, and you MUST read the books in the right order.
- Thanks to my son (who has delighted me by reading more than 60 books this year) I read and found utterly engrossing three books by Thomas Harding – The House by the Lake, Hanns and Rudolf and Legacy: One Family, a Cup of Tea and the Company that Took On the World. History at its best!
- Miss Austen by Gill Hornby. I am not a keen reader of Jane Austen sequels, but this novel about Jane’s adored sister Cassandra was moving and beautifully written. It made me think about the Austen family in new ways.
- J.K. Rowling’s Troubled Blood. She is a master of plotting, characterisation and just damn fine story-telling!
- Agent Sonya: Lover, Mother, Soldier, Spy by Ben Macintyre. This was the remarkable true story of a German Jewish woman who spied for the Soviets. I had no idea so much spying went on!
- The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim. This novel was published in 1922. I listened to it on audio, read superbly by Eleanor Bron – I was transported to a castle in Italy in the month of April. Gorgeous! My BEST AUDIO Book of 2020.
- Because I have not travelled to Britain this year and am feeling homesick for it, I’ve been reading several books about walking through the landscapes and about the English climate. I really loved Weatherland by Alexandra Harris, a history of English weather and how attitudes to it have changed and also been reflected in art and literature – a fabulous book! As was Olivia Laing’s To the River, following the river Ouse through Sussex. I also loved Ramble On: The Story of our Love for Walking Britain by Sinclair McKay, and Walking Through Spring by Graham Hoyland, who walks north from the south coast in March with the start of spring there, to the border with Scotland which he reaches with the spring in June.
Oh, to be in England again …. Well, a Covid-free England anyway.
I think Covid has had one benefit – people have been reading more. I hope your reading has been as therapeutic and satisfying as has mine and I hope that 2021 is packed with wonderful books for you.
Did your reading alter with Covid 19? I’d love to know. Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables by David Bellos
To Serve Them All my Days by R.F. Delderfield
The Crossing Places: The Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries 1 by Elly Griffiths
The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding
Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding
Legacy: One Family, a Cup of Tea and the Company that Took On the World by Thomas Harding
Miss Austen by Gill Hornby
Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim
Weatherland by Alexandra Harris
To the River by Olivia Laing
Ramble On: The Story of our Love for Walking Britain by Sinclair McKay
Walking Through Spring by Graham Hoyland