Presented in no particular order of significance or importance, here are books one to five on my bookshelf of inspiration:
- Possession by AS Byatt – I love the blending, contrast and overlap between historical and modern fiction. The story moves quickly and as it does the two main characters unravel clues and embark on a great literary adventure to unlock the mysteries of the past. The romance between the two modern characters grows, as the secret relationship between the two lovers of the past is brought to light. This book is a great demonstration of the successful intersection of plotlines across time. A lot of people hated the film adaptation of this book, but I thought it had its charms.
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion – Death and the nature of grief are topics that I often reflect on. We all love and unfortunately we all have to face the loss of those we love. Too often grief is treated as something people are expected to just ‘deal with’ and that they should ‘move on’ with their life. This is a powerful book which deals with the reality of life and the tragedy which is found within it.
- A Scandalous Life by Mary S Lovell – The story of Jane Digby in the hands of Mary Lovell had me completely absorbed and utterly enchanted. The book leaves me satisfied and yet hungry to know more of Jane and her entirely extraordinary and wondrous life. A heartbreaking, inspiring, romantic and fascinating tale.
- The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster – A master of building worlds within worlds and stories within stories, this volume clearly demonstrates his incredible talent. The stories collected here springboard from traditional detective stories into something more wonderful and more indefinable. He creates linkages and connections to people, places and plots which in theory should not be possible. What can I say? Paul Auster messes with my head and I love it.
- An Inland Voyage by RL Stevenson – I haven’t actually read this book through in completeness (yet), but I often flick through the pages and read a passage here and there. Stevenson has a wonderfully ‘real’ way of writing that puts you in the moment along with him. I’m also a complete sucker for walking adventures with a literary bent, so this tale has me donning my metaphorical hiking shoes. Also something tickles me about the idea of undertaking ‘an inland voyage’ … going on a voyage of one’s self.