A few years back I read a novel by a Phillippa Gregory and while it was very interesting and well done, it put me off any kind of historical fiction for a LONG time. There was simply too much detail about things I didn’t want to hear about. (Ye olde feminine care products, anyone?) I decided right then that I’d no longer read anything by an author trying to tell of another time.
Pride & Prejudice remains my favorite tale based in England. I endorse it only in three forms. The original book and these two movie versions.
I’m an Austen purist too – I don’t like fan fiction spin-offs of her tales. But these two movies are a-ok. As is the movie version of Emma staring Gwenyth Paltrow. That’s got my thumbs up. Watch these and sip some tea on a cold day. Nothing could be more warm & fuzzy, I assure you.
Word to all you Edward fans – he’s a punk little dufus next to Mr. Darcy & Mr. Knightly (Emma). Twilight is a fine series, I really enjoyed the writing… but Edward as ultimate heartthrob? Come. On. (whoops – that was a tangent, let’s get back on track!)
So a few years go by and my reading continues it’s path. Until Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels and Georgette Hayer’s Devil’s Cub pop into my reading material and rock my socks. Shocked and amazed, I did love them much as the people begging me to read them promised. Thanks to them, I will now accept a very few new historical/regency novels each year. Before I admit (yes, I’m like a bouncer with a red velvet rope) a book I have to 1) love the premise 2) like the voice of the author 3) be intrigued by the lead characters 4) skim the book for TMI moments (Phillippa Gregory scarred me!) and finally 5) I read the very last page.
Does that shock you? Well let me tell you a secret – I lean towards the HEA (happily ever after) so I know generally that the ending will be happy. I’ve also found that reading ONLY the last page does not ruin the story or plot. It just tells me how the author finishes, and if it’s in a style I like or if I might find myself flinging the book. Believe me – I’ve put a LOT of books back on the Borders shelf because the last few paragraphs told me just enough to know to walk away.
I use that same last page tactic on all books EXCEPT mystery now, and it’s significantly reduced the number of bad books I’ve read. Of course all of this talk of reading is because mostly the last month I haven’t been able to read very much at all. I’ve been too busy! I hope to share some suggestions for you + a modern England book suggestions post soon. Until then, I’d love to hear about what you are reading and loving….