Notified of the meme by Maxine, I got the details from one of her links: Sunnie’s Book Blog. The idea is that you list 15 books that will always stick with you, within 15 minutes. I compiled the list within the 15 minutes and added the extra text later. I won’t tag a further 15, but I invite you to do the same, if you feel like doing so. Here are mine, in a sort of chronological order:
Anon – Go Ask Alice
When our school’s Religious Education lessons went further off-topic, we read this book. Until then, I had been a naïve teenager. Some thirty years on, the book remains in print.
L. P. Hartley – The Go Between
Another one from school and about adult relationships. Oo, er. I later loved the film too, although the story’s rather sad.
Mary Higgins Clark – A Stranger is Watching
The Early Warning Signal that I was in for a life of crime (fiction). I wasn’t actually too keen on the English literature we did at school. The fact that my English Language teacher saw me with this and asked to borrow it gave it credibility.
Mary Wesley – The Camomile Lawn
1990: moved to London and became a District Line commuter into the City. Devoured all Mary Wesley novels over the years and still cannot untangle the memories of the Black Swan text from the orange covered seating and the rhythmic rumble of the Tube. The Camomile Lawn remains my favourite and I also loved the TV series.
Thomas Harris – Silence of the Lambs
1991: business trip to Seattle and there was much talk of this novel among some of my colleagues. I bought a copy and read it on the plane home. Quite stunning. I wish I could say the same of his later work. But a previous novel, Red Dragon was also very good.
Patricia Cornwell – Post Mortem
1992-1993: I spent 18 months in Toronto. They had good bookshops, so a flagging social life did not matter. The first crime novel I bought there was Post Mortem and what a book! I then went on to devour north American crime fiction including authors John Sandford and David Lindsey, amongst many others.
Minette Walters – The Scold’s Bridle
Back in the UK in 1993 and this was my first UK crime fiction novel purchase. With this novel full of menace, I discovered that UK authors were as good as, if not better than the north Americans I had been reading. Within days, I was back at the bookshop buying the backlist of two. I have read all her work since and wonder when the next one is coming…
John Lawton – Black Out
Sometime in the mid-90s, in WHS on Chiswick High Road, there was a 3 for 2 offer and I picked this novel in my batch. Thought it absolutely fantastic and continued to read the Troy novels. I have bought multiple copies of Black Out and given them away as gifts, such is the quality of this author’s writing and storytelling. Evocation of time and place was so good in this novel that I imagined the author to be a male Mary Wesley, published very late in life. He wasn’t and isn’t, thank God.
Robert Wilson – The Blind Man of Seville
It took me about a year to get around to buying and reading this one. Again, this is a novel I’d apply the term “fantastic” to. The first in a quartet, all four are stunning. The opening for Blind Man has a scene that disturbs greatly.
Margaret Murphy – The Dispossessed
The novel that impressed me the most in 2005. There’s a heart-stopping moment in the second half that is full of realism. One to read with hankies within easy reach…
L. C. Tyler – The Herring Seller’s Apprentice
I also like to have a laugh occasionally. This is the only novel where I have found myself reading out parts of the first chapter to friends over the phone. Tyler’s literary agent creation, Elsie, comes across to me as an amalgam of two agents I have encountered, making her all the more real. Great satire on the world of publishing.
Andrew Wilson – The Lying Tongue
A curve ball. I was offered a copy by the publisher, but remained dubious until I started reading. I am still to discover any other author who can engage to this extent with unsympathetic characters and a tale told in the first person. Malice and menace meet in a game of cat and mouse set mainly in Venice. Quite remarkable.
Yrsa Sigurdardottir – Last Rituals
Nasty, dark stuff but with a main character who is down to earth, full of common sense, struggling with family and finances, and all the while retaining a wonderful sense of humour. Not read anything that felt so fresh in a long time. Surely no one can read this and not say “More please”.
Tom Bale – Skin and Bones
Read in Jan 09, when I was 12 months on from having lost both my parents and facing the clearance of their house, I was introduced to a character who had just lost her parents and was visiting their home village to start clearing their house. No surprises that I could relate to this character’s personal situation, then. I only had to put it down because of the memories it evoked. A bloody good fast-paced thriller.
Mari Strachan – The Earth Hums in B Flat
Another novel that was personal for me. Gwenni was 12.5 years in the late 1950s in a village in north Wales and everything Strachan evoked in life style and culture was present in my 1960s early childhood in south Wales. For me, this novel is an absolute treasure.