FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Name your top novels and why
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
This is one of the few novels that made me change my opinion about something: in this case the Princes in the Tower mystery. The novel makes an excellent case for the innocence of Richard III. Radio 7 did an excellent reading of the novel with a beautiful piece of music called The Princes in the Tower by Sir William Walton behind it. I would urge everyone to read this book. It may challenge preconceptions, as it did with me. I hadn’t realized the case against Richard III is very flimsy and if anyone ought to be in the dock it should be Henry VII.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I will confess I’ve only read this once back at secondary school during English. Having said that I can still feel the anger I felt then at the injustice shown to Tom Robinson because he is black. A good novel will not only reflect the world but will make you think and if it can bring out emotion as well, you know you’re on to a winner. Gregory Peck is renowned for playing the honourable lawyer Atticus Finch in the film (which I’ve only seen parts of) but I strongly recommend the book. My gut heaves when I come across the line “Atticus is enough of a Christian for the rest of us” (probably paraphrased I admit) as being a Christian myself I know this isn’t enough. All of us who profess Christian belief must show Christ’s compassion and love to the world. I fail to see how you can do that by being unjust to others, especially when it’s based on something as insignifcant as skin colour, which should never determine how you’re treated.
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Great books, good films, my favourites are The Prisoner of Abzakan and Order of the Phoenix (it was inspired casting to get Imelda Staunton to play Dolores Umbridge). I love how Deathly Hallows ends and evil is shown up as being exactly that, Harry is not left untouched by it and to achieve something worthwhile (the removal of Voldemort), sacrifices have to be made. I also welcome Harry using his powers for good yet he is shown having to fight the temptation to do otherwise (especially after the ending of Phoenix when Harry has the perfect reason to seek revenge).
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Played to perfection by the late Jeremy Brett, Sherlock Holmes is a brave character to write about given he’s not likeable and his drug habit would still be considered controversial now. Considering when the stories were originally written, you can see Conan Doyle went right out on the proverbial limb. The stories are excellent. I love the clashes between two geniuses: Holmes and Moriarty (and Spike Milligan was inspired too given Moriarty is a major character in the brilliant Goons). Difficult to pick a favourite tale though Hound of the Baskervilles is one (a recent TV version had a brilliant Richard E Grant as the villain). Oh and it’s not easy to guess how the stories will end, which for me is the litmus test for a decent detective story.