This week I’m playing chocolate book tag!
Many thanks to Linda Huber, author of The Paradise Trees ( September 2013) and The Cold Cold Sea ( August 2014), published by Legend Press, for tagging me. This is my selection.
Dark chocolate: a book that covers dark topics
I first read this probably aged around eleven years old, perhaps the same age as Jane Eyre, when the novel starts. I love the obsessive emotional quality of Jane’s storytelling and I re-read this book several times before I studied English at university. It was only when I got to university that it was pointed out to me that everybody Jane comes into contact with suffers – they die or lose their sight, their health and so on. Not only that the novel begins with child cruelty, continues with illicit love, followed by poverty, destitution and fundamentalist religion. I always felt the power of Jane Eyre. I’m fascinated by the Brontes, but Jane Eyre is my favourite of all the Bronte novels I have read. I found it the most powerful and compelling.
Aero: a laugh out loud bubbly read within a soft outer pathos
I was given this book by a friend when we were both up to the eyes with small people. Allison Pearson could have been writing about our lives. My friend was a full time mum but I was a working mother. It was spot on about so many things – not having time to clean the kitchen and finding horrid things when you get round to it, having to produce home made food and home made costumes at the drop of a hat, remember to send weekly cheques for school dinners and having to send in letters regarding delousing of your family’s hair. The book had a laugh out loud quality to it that I can still remember, although it is years now since I read it.
Wafer free kitkat: a book that surprised me
Long ago I met someone who talked about A Course in Miracles and I thought it sounded like a good idea, so I bought a copy to read and see if I could follow the principles of forgiveness that it talked about. I read it at night and always dropped off to sleep after a couple of pages. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t for me because although I understood the words on the page, I couldn’t see the coherence behind the words. Years later, by chance, I came upon The Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard, and while it requires suspension of disbelief in the reading, it provides an accessible way into the lessons of A course in Miracles. I still have difficulty studying the course and doing the lessons, but I know I can go back to this book by Gary and find an accessible way into the teachings of forgiveness.
Milk chocolate: a book with a lot of hype I’m dying to read
I’ve been intrigued by this novel for years, but never read it yet. I was put off originally by the idea that you know from the start whodunit and that the novel is essentially, in Donna Tartt’s own words, a whydunnit. However, I’ve read other books, like Eye Contact by Fergus O’Neill which are whydunnits and riveting and I do want to read The Secret History now.
Donna Tartt has written three novels – The Secret History is her first, published in 1992. Her second novel, The Little Friend, published in 2002, won the W H Smith Literary Award in 2003 and her third novel, The Goldfinch, published in 2013, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2014. How phenomenal is that!
Picnic: a book is deliciously thrown together
I read this in the summer of 1996 and I remember being enthralled by it. It was slow and languid and I loved the quirky hero of Lomax the astronomer. The exotic location of an observatory on a northern California mountaintop and the walks to and from the observatory in the dark at night added to the suspense, along with Lomax’s obsession with Julia and the fact she needs defending against the murder of her husband and step daughter. I’ve only read this book once but I would love to read it again to recover the dark cloak of night and the sense of danger both within and without the observatory.
Frys chocolate cream: dark story with a soft centre
This book is incredibly powerful. It crosses a number of genres – sci fi, crime, mystery, romance – but that doesn’t matter. It is a wonderful story from a very inventive mind. A mathematician solves a problem that aliens think mankind is not advanced enough to cope with and so they must come to earth and fix it so that the solution is not revealed and the status quo in the universe can continue. Although I am human myself (yes I am), for the first time, reading this book, I understood what it is to be human at a level I never have before. It really is extremely well written. The description of the murder is nothing by comparison with many crime stories, but has an utterly chilling quality. The descriptions of the love that the alien grows to feel will tug at your heart by the end of the novel. The quality of the writing is just amazing.
Hot chocolate: comfort reading
I have the entire collection of Victoria Holt paperback novels and I’ve read them all twice. Once in my teens and again when I was pregnant. I know I’ll read them all again when I’m in need of comfort and escape. What I love about them is their formula (damsel in distress overcomes obstacles to live happily or at least successfully ever after) and they are packed full of legends and folklore which she brings to life in each book. I must admit when I finished these I also read her Daughters of England series, published under the pseudonym of Phillipa Carr. Victoria Holt and Phillipa Carr are pseudonyms of Eleanor Hibbert, a very successful author who wrote more than 200 books under a number of pseudonyms.
Coming up next Wednesday…
For next Wednesday’s chocolate books, I’m tagging a writer whose books I love:
Jane Isaac’s debut An Unfamiliar Murder, the first in a crime series starring DCI Helen Lavery, was published by Rainstorm Press in January 2012 and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards’.
Her second novel in the DCI Helen Lavery series, The Truth Will Out, was published by Legend Press in April 2014.