Most of these authors are from bygone eras. That does not mean their novels have expired like the milk you left in the back of the fridge while on vacation. Rather, it usually means their writing has stood the test of time. Plus, I like a good period piece, and nothing immerses one in a previous decade like literature.
None of these authors would be considered classics by any professors of literature that I know. I don't know many professors of literature. Well, I am FB friends with one of my mentors from UD, you may know him and his red zinger. But these are my classics, these books I feel are worth owning, not just because their antique spines match my decor, but because I read them when I'm bookless.
Writing this list was pretty easy, since we are going on our annual trip to MI. When I go to MI, I plan three things: meals, clothing, and books. Since 60% of all waking sunny hours are spent beachside, I need lots of books. Plus, 100% of all waking rainy hours are also spent with a book. Or a bridge hand, if I can find three other fools.
So in no particular order, here are some of my favorites.
James Herriot is a no-brainer. Appropriate for all ages, we've listened to these on audio many, many times. The BBC tv show wasn't half bad either. Love, love, love Herriot. Loved his biography, love his children's books. Vet in Yorkshire, before, during and after WWII. Sweet, funny and poignant stories woven among the romance of his life.
He's like James Herriot, but instead of being a vet, Gervase Phinn is the county inspector of schools in Yorkshire. If you liked Herriot, you'll enjoy Phinn.
Helen MacInnes wrote espionage thrillers set in post WWII Europe, and there is always a romantical twist. These books remind me of Michigan, because the cottage we stay in is loaded with them. I love them all. Suspense without terror.
If Helen MacInnes is suspense with a side of romance, Daphne duMaurier is romance with a side of suspense. Many of her novels were made into movies, most notably Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel, and Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
A.J. Cronin was the product of a Protestant mother and a Catholic father in Scotland in the latter part of the 1800s. He wrote his first of many novels in 1930, and nearly all of them involve religion, in a good way. The Keys of the Kingdom is one of my many favorites. I've never seen the movie, starring Gregory Peck. Is it any good?
The cottage also introduced me to Mary Stewart. This prolific woman wrote a book every year from 1955 through 1980, and every single one was a best seller. I love her romance/thrillers like the one pictured above. I have also read and enjoyed her Arthurian novels, such as The Crystal Cave.
Lots of Jack Higgins in the beach house. The Chef and I both enjoy The Eagle Has Landed, which is about an attempt by some Nazi paratroopers to assassinate Winston Churchill, while he's visiting a small English village.
Frederick Forsyth's The Odessa File deals with both the collective guilt of post-war Germany and the discovery of an underground network of Nazis alive and kicking in Europe. This novel is both exciting and thought-provoking.
M.M. Kaye was born in India in 1908, thanks Wikipedia. The Far Pavilions is also set in India. It is the epic love story of a British boy raised in India and an Indian princess. The Shadow of the Moon is also a romance set in India in the mid 19th century. Both are breathtaking. The Far Pavilions is by far the raciest book on this list, and that's not saying much. I don't go for that kind of thing, so this whole list is pretty tame.
Lest you think I am a complete Anglophile, here is my number one favorite book of all time and it's written by an American. It's tied with a few others for most favoritest, but I have read it several times. Came a Cavalier is a novel set in Europe during and between WWI and WWII. It's about a young American nurse who falls in love and marries a French cavalier, who is called back to active duty when WWII breaks out. Her home, a chateau in France of course, ends up being the Nazi headquarters of the area. Great love story plus historical fiction.
Frances Parkinson Keyes is really known for her novels about New Orleans such Crescent Carnival and Dinner at Antoine's. When we were in NOLA a few years ago, for my brother's wedding, I was positively giddy to see her home near the French Quarter. Kind of like the time I saw Dorothy Sayer's eyeglasses in Wheaton, IL. (must add Dorothy to the list)
I have a crush on this man. He's fictional. He plays the wealthy fop, but really he's an amazing detective. Detectivery was looked down upon in his time, so he's kind of secretive about it, like Zorro or the Scarlet Pimpernel. I have crushes on them too.
He's Lord Peter Wimsey and you can read all about him in the mystery novels by Dorothy Sayers. I think I first met him in Strong Poison, in which he meets the love of his life, murder mystery writer on trial for murdering her lover, Harriet Vane. I like her a lot too. And the manservant, Bunter, is wonderful. I wish we had a manservant.
Jeeves, Bunter or Bates...if you could only hire one, who would it be? My pick would be Bunter.
So there you have it. Untold hours of readery of the entertainment variety rather than the edifying or educational. Your housework will go undone for weeks to come, or you may spend the rest of your summer without making any human contact with family members.
Either way, you're welcome.