Happy New Year! I had a very jolly time and then, once the mad bit was over, I spent a delightful few days of walks, films (Roma and The Favourite are must-sees) and, of course, books. This time I indulged in re-reading Trollope and spent some happy afternoons with a cat on my lap revelling in Slopian shenanigans and general intrigue and love affairs that seem rampant in an English Cathedral close…
My parents’ Diamond Wedding Anniversary fell at the end of the year meaning a panic for my sister Agapanthus and myself over what to buy… Diamonds were the most obvious answer but not the obvious choice – that would be books so we chose a few memorable ones published that year. 1958 is of course best remembered as the year the world was introduced to Paddington Bear and the year that Blue Peter hit our screens. (60 years later my sister is still gutted that she never received a badge but she is still trying… there has to be some payback for damaged knees after all those marathons! Anyway it was a memorable celebration enjoyed by all and who knew that the Queen sends out a telegram and a selfie to the diamondites? Agapanthus did and soon both were winging their way to the only republican household in the Malvern Hills but useful in the event of an oil shortage, I suppose.
So, it is now that time when we cast a final look back over 2018 and I choose my favourite 10 books from all the books I read over the year for the first time which obviously excludes a lot of the good stuff such as Trollope, Hawthorne, Proust which were so memorable from our Classics book group and I also haven’t included any of the marvellous books I have read for the Adults Reading Children’s Books.
First of all I divide them up into 10 books published this year, in no particular order…
- Transcription, Kate Atkinson
- Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker
- All Among the Barley, Melissa Harrison
- Teethmarks on my Tongue, Eileen Battersby
- Old Baggage, Lissa Evans
- Melmoth, Sarah Perry
- Last Stories, William Trevor
- Travelling in a Strange Land, David Park
- The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar
- Tirzah and the Prince of Crows, Deborah Kay Davies
- The Last of the Duchess, Caroline Blackwood
- Wise Children, Angela Carter
- Little Virtues, Natalia Ginzberg
- The Well, Elizabeth Jolley (out of print)
- Talking to Women, Nell Dunn
- Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor
- God on the Rocks, Jane Gardam
- Cluny Brown, Margery Sharp
- The Book of Silence, Sarah Maitland
- A Different Drummer, William Melvin Kelley
Now, 10 older books but first read this year…
This year I find it too hard to create an overall top 10 as I enjoyed all these books so much: they are all so different but have really stayed with me and I still find myself talking about them and recommending them. Very sadly Eileen Battersby died in a car accident recently. Her book, Teethmarks on my Tongue, is one of the longer books on my list but the story of the teenage Helen’s physical and emotional journey, her passion for horses and art is both very moving but also funny in the best tragi-comedic tradition.
Goodbye 2018, hello 2019!