Fans of British Writers discussion

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Group news and business > Currently reading anything by a British writer?

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message 1: by Werner (last edited Jun 03, 2010 03:40AM) (new)

Werner | 275 comments Right now, I'm reading Orthodoxy (1908) by G. K. Chesterton, and enjoying it. It's my first serious encounter with Chesterton's nonfiction, though I'd read his two novels and one of the Father Brown stories.


LeAnn (LeAnnNealReilly) | 77 comments I'm reading a biography of Shakespeare by Peter Ackroyd.Shakespeare: The Biography 1-4


Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments I am in a Ruth Rendell re-reading wallow. She is an utter master of the short story, is RR.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I am reading two Norah Lofts. I own about 53 Norah Lofts books (as you know). I also own some Mary Stewart books which I read over from time to time and Winston Graham who wrote Poldark which was very popular the year I lived in England (1975). Poldark was all the rage like Edward Cullen is right now.


message 5: by Jill (last edited Jun 09, 2010 06:56PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) Hi Werner.....I just joined this group and was happy to find that it was moderated by a friend from the James Mason group.
I am a huge fan of British authors of all genres. I am in my mystery/detective mode so I am currently reading On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill. It is one of the Pasco/Dalziel detective series which I love. Also starting on Murder of a Dead Man by Catherine John. I have only read one of her other books and liked it so I picked this one up at the library.


Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments I have finshed my Ruth Rendell wallow and have started back on Elizabeth Jane Howard,The Long View to be precise

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2002/...

I must get her biography


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 96 comments Just finished the YA The Gates by John Connolly... really liked it. Also planning to finish Charlie Fletcher's Stoneheart Trilogy.


Werner | 275 comments Jill, welcome to the group! Yes, I recognized you from the James Mason group, too --you'll find several folks in this group who are members there, as well as some who aren't.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) Barbara wrote: "I have finshed my Ruth Rendell wallow and have started back on Elizabeth Jane Howard,The Long View to be precise

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2002/...

I must get he..."


Barbara....I just finished the latest Ruth Rendell
The Monster in the Box: An Inspector Wexford Novel and must say that I was disappointed. I am a great fan of her books, especially the Wexford series but I couldn't seem to raise much interest in the story. Have you read it yet? I feel that her books written under the Barbara Vine nom de plume are inconsistent in quality but for the most part are worth reading.


message 10: by Barbara (last edited Jun 14, 2010 12:39AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments I don't think I have read the Monster RR. As a rule I like her non-Wexford ones best - and almost every short story . I find Wexford himself ( and Dora even more so) a bit heavily domestic and comfortable if you know what I mean .

I do like the Barbara Vines , though The Minatour and The Blood Doctor were strangely disappointing and predictable somehow, though as well written as ever . No Night Is Too Long is far and way the best BV I think, don't you?


Werner | 275 comments My recent reading of Chesterton's Orthodoxy whetted my appetite for some more of his fiction. I'd read a couple of his Father Brown detective stories earlier, so since the BC library has the first of the book-length Father Brown story collections, The Innocence of Father Brown, I started that one over the weekend.


message 12: by Barbara (last edited Jul 13, 2010 12:04AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments I'n now on Jane Gardam . Does anyone else know and love her too?


Mike (the Paladin) (thepaladin) | 96 comments Atrocity Archives by Charles Stoss, A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffin, Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce, and Ironhand by Charlie Fletcher...I seem to be on a sort of "English roll". Two are also YA books.


Werner | 275 comments Barbara, I recently read "The Meeting House" by Gardam, in The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century Ghost Stories." So far, that's been my only introduction to her work, but I really liked it. Besides the good handling of the story's plot, I liked the slight flavor of Quaker spirituality and the author's obvious deep appreciation for the natural world.

As I've said before, I think of Stephen R. Lawhead as a British writer. My Goodreads friend Jackie and I have just started a buddy read of Hood, the first volume in his re-telling of the Robin Hood legend, the King Raven trilogy.


message 15: by Barbara (last edited Aug 24, 2010 12:07AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments I loved The Meeting House too Werner, in fact all the tales from her Going Into a Dark House collection . Not entirely typical of her I would say - though she is so versatile that it's probably not a useful comment . Here is a rather good review you might like to read

http://www.amazon.com/Going-Into-Dark...


message 16: by Werner (last edited Aug 24, 2010 03:14AM) (new)

Werner | 275 comments Thanks, Barbara, that was an excellent review! (And it confirmed my guess that Gardam was familiar with the landscape of the English Pennines from personal experience, not just from reading about it.) She certainly sounds like a writer worth reading; I'd add her to my shelves, if I didn't already have a couple of hundred unread books there! (But when I get through those, I'll be ready for more; though of course I'll be 150 years old then... :-)) I'll add Going Into a Dark House to our group's "read" shelf, if it's not there already.


message 17: by Barbara (last edited Aug 24, 2010 05:01PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments It was good Werner wasn't it! So useful to find one like that . I do understand about the TBR shelf.
Somehow I thought it would be easy once retired...


Werner | 275 comments Barbara, one retiree I knew once said that for him, the definition of "re-tire" turned out to be "put on a new set of tires and go for another 100,000 miles." :-)


Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments LOL!


Werner | 275 comments Over the weekend, I started Scarlet, the second volume of Lawhead's King Raven trilogy. It's great so far!


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) I just got Wendy Moore's Wedlock: The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore from the library but haven't started it yet. It was a recommendation from one of the book club members.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) Early on in this thread I mentioned that I was reading Murder of a Dead Manby Katherine John. I had read one of her books and found it appealing, so I thought I would try another. Big mistake. This was one of the worst books I have read this year......unbelievable premise, bad characterizations, and the introduction of the murderer in the last few pages (an unforgivable sin). What a disappointment. My apologies to the author but IMO it was not worth the time.


Werner | 275 comments Thanks for the warning, Jill! At least you can save others from making the same mistake. :-)


Gail I just finished "The Children's Book" by A.S. Byatt. Don't bother. I also read "Five Children and It" by E. Nesbit, just as a background for the Byatt. Good, short, funny, if you like children's lit. at all.

Moving on now to "To the Lighthouse" by Woolf. What a relief.


Werner | 275 comments To this fan of supernatural reads, the Goodreads description of Five Children and It definitely sounds promising, even if it was written for kids! E. Nesbit was also a very accomplished writer of ghost stories for adults; her "Man-Size in Marble" and "In the Dark" are well worth a read, if that sort of fiction is your thing.


Werner | 275 comments So far, I have nothing but praise for Lawhead's King Raven trilogy! I started on the third and final volume, Tuck, today --and would have much sooner, if I hadn't had to wait for it to arrive via interlibrary loan.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) As my second book (I always have at least two or more going at one time), I am reading A Man Lay Deadby Ngaio Marsh,a Roderic Alleyn mystery. I love that series and have tried to read all of them.


Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments I'm sure everybody else has read heaps of Robert Harris, but I have only just done so. Ghost and Archangel. Ripping yarns they are!


Werner | 275 comments Barbara, I'll confess my ignorance: I've not only never read anything by Robert Harris, but until now I don't believe I've ever heard of him!


Gail --->27: Jill, I'm just rediscovering the wonderful Marsh mystery series. Somehow I'd let them slip out of mind over the years. Around thirty years ago I had what can only be termed a tidal wave of mystery reading, including all of Sayers, Allingham, redoing Christie, Marsh, and many, many others.

Silly of me to have let her lie on the shelves so long. Her writing is excellent, sharp humor/wit, decent plotting, most interesting characters. I'm in the process of slowly rebuilding a collection I (sadly) gave away. Happy reading!


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) Gail wrote: "--->27: Jill, I'm just rediscovering the wonderful Marsh mystery series. Somehow I'd let them slip out of mind over the years. Around thirty years ago I had what can only be termed a tidal wave of ..."

Gail.....you and I are sisters under the skin......I also have read and continue to read Sayers, Allingham, Christie,Crispin, et al. What wonderful writers they were!!! I have a soft spot in my heart for British mysteries, including the more modern Ruth Rendell and PD James books. The only non-British mystery writer that I really, really love is Rex Stout, the creator of Nero Wolfe. I have all of his 40+ Wolfe books........and now that there are no more, I am re-reading them......my bedside books.


Ivan I'm reading Myself When Young: The Shaping of a Writer by Daphne du Maurier and I'm loving it. Very well written, and truly interesting. Dame Daphne has fashioned this memior from diaries she kept from 1920 thru 1932. Couldn't be more pleased with this, a real discovery.


message 33: by Barbara (last edited Oct 17, 2010 04:46PM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments I'd be interested to know what you think of D Du M when you have finished Ivan. If she is scrupulously honest about her personal life it will be fairly riveting reading.........


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) I am in my "light" reading phase and am now starting The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey, one of my favorite British mystery writers. I also like her book Brat Farrar. She is an interesting writer.


Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments Oh yes Josephine Tey - her wonderful revisioning of the Princes In The Tower in The Daughter of Time is one of my all time favourites


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) The Daughter of Time is indeed a terrific book that certainly is not your usual mystery offering. I think that Tey may get short shrift in the overall history of British mystery writings.........her style is intelligent and she doesn't always follow "the rules". One of my favorites.


Werner | 275 comments Norah Lofts has been mentioned on this thread before. This month, another Goodreads group I belong to, Supernatural Fiction Readers, is doing her 1977 novel Gad's Hall as a (voluntary) common read, so I've started on that one.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) I have never read any Norah Loftis books.....I was under the impression that they were "bodice rippers"........obviously I was misinformed. Which of her works would you recommend?.........I will have to try one since I have avoided them for so long.


message 39: by Barbara (last edited Nov 07, 2010 12:08AM) (new)

Barbara (sema4dogz) | 50 comments Good Lord no, Norah Lofts bodice rippers indeed ! Mind you, some of the covers are awful I know and I can easily understand someone not wanting to look further having seen them. Utterly unrelated to content half the time.

Here is a reasonable bibliog. list.

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/l/n...

I like all the historicals, and all the Suffolk based ones, the House Trilogy in particular, and the ones actually called The Suffolk Trilogy.

There are also ones with biblical motifs, such as How Far To Bethlehem and Esther, beautifully visualised. And one based loosely on a famous journey to California in the pioneeing days, undertaken by the Donner Party and the tragedies that overtook them. Road to Revelation it's called ( aka Winter Harvest)
My personal favourites are Jassy, to See A Fine Lady, and Hester Roon - which are none of the above really, but have as their theme young working class rural woman and the way in which they manage various life events. Sounds like nothing much but the quality of her writing is superb.

For detailed discussions , you could look at the Fans of Norah Lofts threads here on Goodreads, though of course they contain many spoilers as the contributers have read all her books a dozen times!


Gail There may be a bit of confusion here between Norah Lofts, the author outlined above, and a very different author: Nora Roberts. Roberts writes, seemingly, thousands of bodice rippers under that name, and a large body of detective stories set in the future under the pen name of J.D. Robb. She would not be on my favorites list, but obviously her vast body of work appeals to some readers.

I finsished "To the Lighthouse" by Woolf and loved it. It wasn't as challenging as "Mrs. Dalloway", but a very fine book.

Right now I'm re-reading "Middlemarch" and easing my way through some mysteries and odd lot books around the house.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) You would think that someone who reads as much as I do must have read a Norah Lofts!!!! I feel like a novice.....it may have been the cover art that put me off........something did. I will certainly pick up one of her books at the library and give it a try. I guess I am reading too much non-fiction, British mysteries and military history...........time to expand.


Werner | 275 comments Gail, I've never gotten around to reviewing it here on Goodreads, but I read Middlemarch several years ago, and loved it! George Eliot is one of my favorite authors.


Gail What often surprises me about the classics, Werner, is how very funny they are. No one seems to mention this (except of course for Dickens, and that's often a disparaging reference, indicating that he's playing to the lowest common demoninator among readers--as though humor were somehow a fault or at best a base, unworthy thing). A single example from Eliot's MM:

"Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them."

If one reads carefully, this stuff pops up all the time, Wharton being particularly witty. Great writers need not be heavy-handed. Such a relief.

By the way, Tey is a favorite of mine; I've read all of hers in the past two years except one. Brat Farrar, which has been replicated many times but never quite so well, is a favorite, as is the unique The Daughter of Time. Some disparage her work, but I can't for the life of me see why.

As a light read, I just read completely (for the very first time) L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time". I would recommend it to you, Werner, as it explores good and evil and quite explicitly uses Judeo-Christian references. My daughter loved it and read the whole series often as a child. I just perused it at the time for suitability; now I know why she loved it so.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) Gail wrote: "What often surprises me about the classics, Werner, is how very funny they are. No one seems to mention this (except of course for Dickens, and that's often a disparaging reference, indicating that..."

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think that Tey is disparaged because she doesn't play by the "rules"....she sometimes witholds clues from the reader........doesn't matter to me.

Her The Daughter of Time is a masterpiece of historical mystery. I just finished re-reading with delight both Brat Farrar and The Man in the Queue.


Werner | 275 comments Gail, I read A Wrinkle in Time several years ago, and loved it! (So that shows that you can guess my tastes pretty well. :-) ) Someday I hope to read the other books in the series, as well.

Yes, a lot of the classical writers have a wonderfully delectable sense of humor, be it broad, ironic, satiric or whatever. Austen, Swift and Trollope are other examples that come to mind.

Although I've read and liked some of the work of the "Golden Age" British mystery writers, Tey is one I haven't read so far. Interestingly, though, I read one bio-critical article on her that really slammed The Daughter of Time, on the grounds that the Inspector and his assistant palpably don't have the slightest clue between them of how to go about historical research in a library. (It was probably written by a librarian. :-) )


Werner | 275 comments I'm currently reading a collection of Victorian ghost stories by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915), At Chrighton Abbey and Other Horror Stories. Since it only has five stories, and I've read two of them already in other anthologies, I figure it for a fairly quick read --which is what I want right now, since I'm scheduled to leave on Dec. 12 for Christmas in Australia.


Gail I'm doing my annual re-read of A Christmas Carol mixed in among numerous other books. Just finished my full re-read of Middlemarch, surely one of the major classics of the Victorian era. An amazing work, that even with all the topical references and plot elements, still has much to say to our own jaded age about human nature and its delusions.


Jill Hutchinson (Bucs1960) I am re-reading The Woman in Whiteby Wilkie Collins. That book has always fascinated me and it deserves its place as an early classic in the mystery genre.

Werner, have a wonderful time in Australia. I love that country and the warm people there. Take a look at the Southern Cross for me!!!!


Gail Werner, you are sooooo lucky to be going to Australia!

I forgot to mention that I recently read Quiet As a Nun by the great historian/biographer, Antonia Fraser. It's an ingriguing little mystery that takes place at a convent. The nuns and the students they teach are well-developed and the plot, while slight, is interesting.


Werner | 275 comments Thanks, Jill and Gail. Yes, Australia is a lovely, beautiful country, with warm and friendly people. Our oldest daughter (now an Aussie citizen) married an Australian guy, so we have a family connection there. We were able to visit for four weeks in June and July of 2007, but that was during their winter; this will be our first visit during their summer. (They walk around to look at other people's Christmas displays in tube tops and shorts, so it'll be different! :-) )


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