Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reading again and again--Elisabeth Rose

Do you have favourite books, one's you can't bear to toss out when the big shelf clearing is on? I bet everyone does.

I'm a real sucker for those classic English writers like Evelyn Waugh, Somerset Maugham, John Galsworthy etc who wrote in the early part of the twentieth century. The between the wars periods is a fascinating time in English history with the tossing off of Victorian and Edwardian prudishness and the rise of the women's movements.

My all time favourite in this vein is the twelve novel series A Dance To the Music Of Time by Anthony Powell. It spans the period from about 1920 when the narrator Nicholas Jenkins is at boarding school and continues through to the 1960's. The books are an extraordinary depiction of English culture and society through those changing times and took over twenty years to write.

I'm now in my third reading of the lot and I'm just finishing the fourth book and loving them all over again. I bought my copies secondhand and had my son and husband on the lookout for various titles. I had a list in my bag and crossed them off as I acquired them. This has resulted in a variety of editions but it doesn't matter and just shoes how popular the books are to be reprinted time and time again. The BBC did four part miniseries several years ago. The actors are astonishingly perfect in their roles but many events have been telescoped by necessity.

They intricacies of the family relationships, marriages and friendships are staggering as Nicholas moved through his life meeting and remeeting people as he goes. Powell has created a vast world of completely believable and enthralling characters. His note taking must have been prodigious to keep track of everything and everyone. Remember he would have been writing on a typewriter at best.

I have trouble keeping track of my handful of characters and their little time lines!     


  1. I'm not a re-reader at all. I wonder if that makes me an oddity among authors.

    1. Need to add: I do have a shelf of favorites. I just don't re-read them.

  2. I do have books I read and re-read. I really love the Regency and Victorian English novelists - Austen, Dickens, Trollope, Thackeray, Gaskell, etc. When I need comfort reads I turn to either classic fantasy - Tolkien, Andre Norton, Charles deLint - or classic romantic suspense with Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels.

  3. I have a few books I re-read, but not many. But as Jean said, I do save my favorites

  4. I keep and re-read the classics.

  5. There are a few books I re-read, but the number has declined lately, mainly because I've met so many new writers here and through other internet lists and I want to read them.

  6. Karen I mean to reread the Trollope Barchester Chronicles and I really like Thomas Hardy and Georgette Heyer too. She was my intro to romance as a teenager. I haven't read anything of hers for over forty years so it'll all be fresh and new!

    You're right Sandy, there are so many new authors out there and not enough reading time to cover everything you want to read. As for Carole the classics are the ones I reread.

    I have shelves of keepers too, Jean, with the intention of reading them day....

  7. My book case definitely has its keepers too. Unfortunately, though, I always think I'll re-read them "someday," but I seldom do. Like Sandy, my TBR list of authors I'm getting to know on the Internet keeps growing--and that's a good thing!

  8. My favorite re-reads are Agatha Christie novels. I date the times I read them. I'm finding I re-read them once every ten years or so. I have few others too--Seabiscuit and horse related books are constant companions. As far as cleaning out my library, I've tried. Really I have. I can't seem to let go. What if I want to read that one again?