FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Name your top novels and why
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
I saw the film with the magnificent Alec Guinness as Fagan. Spell bound I turned to the book and was amazed at it. The cruelty of Sykes is not overplayed and the tragedy of Nancy is shown beautifully. Pure story, pure drama and characters brilliantly drawn.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The blueprint for romantic comedy with sharp dialogue and a heroine ahead of her time in wanting to wed a man worthy of her. My first introduction to irony in literature especially when Darcy talks about admiring a woman’s eyes and Caroline Bingley turns her eyes on him only to find he was talking about Elizabeth Bennett! Timeless, like Oliver Twist
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The book that proved fantasy is a valid literary form. We have the wizard, the unlikely hero, the sacrificial quest, the elves, the monsters and the battles. The films by Peter Jackson are a wonderful tribute to the original novel. I first read the trilogy not long after the birth of my son and grabbed every opportunity when he was asleep or breast feeding to read more of the book! It is truly a fantastic tale.
The Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis
It’s highly appropriate to have this on the same page as Tolkien given the writers were friends. The Narnia Chronicles are wonderfully written tales. Yes I particularly appreciate the links with Christianity (especially in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and the 2005 film adaptations have been great too. Reading the stories through in sequence, you can see Narnia rise and fall and I get a real sense of being there, just as I do with Middle Earth, always a sign of a great story when you feel transported to the setting. I particularly like Prince Caspian which to my mind shows Aslan (represents Jesus) is for all people from all backgrounds and not just white folk (as represented by the Pevensies) though he is for them too.
Guards! Guards by Sir Terry Pratchett
I love all of the Discworld novels (with the possible exception of Eric) but I’ve chosen this one as it has my favourite character in it, Sam Vimes. I love the way Vimes develops over the course of several novels but this is where it all kicks off and we meet the lady who changes his life, Sybil Ramkin. It’s a great tale full of plots, a dwarf who is not all he appears (for a start Carrot is 6’ tall!) and dragons! What more can you want from a story?
Reaper Man by Sir Terry Pratchett
My favourite of the Death novels as Death is shown as a very “human” character. I also like the way there is no cop-out at the end with regard to what happens to Miss Flitworth. Moving and funny. The novels shows there is something worse than Death - a second Death with no compassion and no sharp scythe who will just mow us down. Miss Flitworth is my favourite kind of heroine - a formidable old biddy who we find out did have a life of her own even though her neighbours see her as batty.