1 January 2018 admin-Cheryl

My 2017 Favourites

Top Five Books of 2017
Scribbles in the Margins by Daniel Gray

Scribbles in the Margins
by Daniel Gray

I have just fallen in love! The man I’m in love with is called Daniel Gray and I have never met him, but I have read his book, Scribbles in the Margin: 50 Eternal Delights of Books and I know he is absolutely a man after my own heart. I have only two complaints about his book – it is not long enough, and it comes to an end. I just wanted to keep reading, saying YES, YES, that’s just how I feel, I totally agree, as I did so.

He has chapters on giving books as presents, on being in libraries, on books for holidays, on hurting with laughter as you read, on re-reading, on arranging your bookshelves, on writing in books, reading to a child, and even one on the smells of books. This is a book that instantly got a place on my Top Five books of 2017.

So … in alphabetical order (from author’s surname) these are the five books I most enjoyed last year:

  • Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister by E.J. Clery. I didn’t think I would pick up a book about Jane Austen and have so much to learn. An eye-opener, a fascinating biography, a book about money and its impact, and an excellent read. And please just take it totally for granted that the very best books I read every year are the six novels of Jane Austen.
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It took me some time to get around to this book which so many friends had been raving about. I loved it and having been to St Malo a few times, I could vividly picture the streets and buildings. A moving novel.
  • Scribbles in the Margin: 50 Eternal Delights of Books by Daniel Gray. A joy from first page to last, a book you want to keep and dip into often to remind yourself that your own book addiction is actually very normal.
  • A House Full of Daughters by Juliet Nicolson. I have been to Sissinghurst many times and once met Nigel Nicolson, and I found this book a sad and moving picture of several generations of women, from Pepita the Spanish dancer, to Vita Sackville-West to Juliet Nicolson, whose book The Last Season I just loved. The Nicolsons are an amazing writing family (I think Adam Nicolson’s book The Power and the Glory about the creation of the King James Bible is just stunning – he is Juliet’s brother).
  • Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber. This was the most absorbing history book, describing the lead up to the French Revolution and ending with the death of Marie Antoinette, but all depicted through the lens of fashion. Clothes played an important part in the Queen’s downfall, and the book was a truly wonderful read.

I have also had great pleasure throughout the year keeping up with various crime series – Nicola Upson’s Josephine Tey books, Nicci French’s Monday to Sunday series, Cora Harrison’s medieval Irish mysteries, Susan Elia MacNeal’s Maggie Hope novels set in WWII London, C.S. Harris’s gorgeous Regency mysteries, Charlie Lovett’s fabulous literary mysteries, Deborah Crombie’s contemporary London series, and Catherine Lloyd’s Regency country village novels. And of course Donna Leon, Tess Gerritsen, Peter Robinson and M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin continue to give fun and entertainment.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

  Susannah Fullerton: The Nicolson family
  Susannah Fullerton: Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf

  Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister by E.J. Clery
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Scribbles in the Margin: 50 Eternal Delights of Books by Daniel Gray
A House Full of Daughters by Juliet Nicolson
The Power and the Glory by Adam Nicolson
  Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber

I only recommend books I have read and know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.


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Comments (14)

  1. Thanks for this wonderful selection of books. In my reading I’m into earlier periods, and have just enjoyed Elizabeth Gaskell’s biography of Charlotte Bronte, read Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters, and Charlotte’s Bronte’s Shirley. Great reading!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I recently re-read ‘Wives and Daughters’ by listening to Juliet Stevenson read it on unabridged audio – total bliss! You might like to try Jenny Uglow’s wonderful biography of Elizabeth Gaskell. I love almost all her books and of course her biography of Charlotte Bronte is masterful.

  2. Jacqueline French

    I relation to your list of crime series, CJ Sansom’s series set in Tudor times is a fascinating picture of the daily life of Londoners seen through the eyes of Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer and reluctant detective.
    Thank you for all your recommendations, lots to explore here.
    Jacqueline French l

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Absolutely! I have written about the CJ Sansom books in previous newsletters. I think the Shardlake novels are possibly the best crime series ever! I have even done a Shardlake guided walk in London.

  3. Brian Doyle

    Thrift books online is my second home, they have 7 million titles and in the fullness time and if the extensions are finished I’ll be able to house a goodly number, I have to believe that heaven is a bookshop.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, along with all the time needed to which to read its entire contents.

  4. Brian Doyle

    The Sassoon is out of print so iI had to track it down through second hand dealers, it’s on loan at the moment to Margie Abraham and if your unable to find a copy Susannah your welcome to get it from her for a lend,it’s a treasure. Marie Antoinette’Head I read a great review on and then put it on my birthday wish list, a week later I was in Vinnie’s looking on the bookshelves when a hardcover copy jumped off the shelf into my hand, I couldn’t pay for it fast enough for the princely sum of $6.00. The spine was as new and I’m quite sure it had never even been opened, obviously a gift the recipient had no interest in, if it had only been a talking book I could have found out how it got there so soon after publication. It’s gone to the right home as I’m sure your treasures will one day end up in grateful hands.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Thanks Brian. I will try to get it myself and if not, will get in touch with Margi. Isn’t it a wonderful moment when you find something you really want at an incredibly low price in a second hand book shop!

  5. Brian Doyle

    Have you read Marie Antoinette’s Head by Will Basher, really enjoyed it, have also finally found a copy of Edith Wharton’s Bioghraphy which is on its way to go on top of the waiting pile. My favourite book of 2017 was Siegfried’s Journey 1915- 1920 by Siegfried Sassoon, so beautifully written and peopled with others that I knew and have read about, he would be on my list of people to bring back from the dead and invite to lunch.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Ooh the book about Sassoon sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the recommendation. And I have not read Marie Antoinette’s Head so will add that to my list too.

  6. Jan Clemson

    Even more for the TBR list, if not pile yet. I plan to read short books this year in the hope of reading 100 🙂📚📚. There are a couple of mystery writers on your list whom I have not read. So many years ago now, I loved the Sackville-West and Nigel Nicolson diaries and will be interested to read the younger generation’s work.

    One whom I believe you would enjoy is the Canadian, Louise Penny, who has created a community of interesting characters in her fictional wold of Three Pines with a sympa French Canadian Chief Superintendent of Quebec Police doing the sleuthing.

    Thank you for these Newsletters and I look forward to the literary monographs reading my mail box.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Good luck with your reading plan! I have read a couple of Louise Penny books and enjoyed her. Must read some more of them. Happy New Year.

    • Denise Stephenson

      i also love Louise Penny books. Last year I visited Old Quebec City as a result of reading these novels and loved every minute of it.

      • Susannah Fullerton

        So many people have recommended Louise Penny, so I obviously must read more of them. I went to Quebec as a small child, but it does sound wonderful to explore in the Inspector’s footsteps.

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