Wednesday, March 15, 2006

TWO FAVORITE ENGLISH NOVELISTS
Books to sell *and* to read

Most books that we purchase for our inventory are not books that I would personally choose to read. So it was a treat this weekend to open a box of books from an estate and find a pile of books by Miss Read (Dora Saint) and two by Elizabeth Goudge (1900-1984). I went to the computer and listed them immediately.

Miss Read's 40+ books are centered on English village life and the main character in many of her books is a school teacher named Miss Read. These are not minds-on books, but the sense of community within them is very inviting and I read her novels obsessively when my oldest daughter was an infant. Miss Read's books were an influence on Jan Karon.

Elizabeth Goudge is tied with Flannery O'Connor as my favorite 20th century female author. Goudge's books are not focused on village life, like Miss Read's, but on family life and on the inner life of the characters. I've read the Eliots of Damerosehay series twice and often pick up one of the volumes to reread passages. I want to adopt Lucille as my grandmother. I want a house like the Herb of Grace. The Scent of Water, another favorite, is about a woman who retires early and moves to the countryside. Not a thrilling plot. But the depth of insight and character development is wonderful. Goudge suffered from depression and was a quietly pious woman and this influences her writing. Her children's book, The Little White Horse, was J.K. Rowling's favorite book when she was a girl.

If you're a bookseller, pick up hardcover books by these authors when you find them, even if they are ex-library books. They're scarce and sell for a decent price. But try to read one before it sells, okay?
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2 Comments:

Blogger Mimi said...

Wow! You talk about so many books I've never heard of. I'm off to add to my "wish" list.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read a number of Miss Read books years ago -- even read some of them to my children. And Elizabeth Goudge is also a favorite author -- I feel a little like the landlady of the man who bought your Dorothy Dunnett books on e-bay and sent such a nice note -- it's perhaps time to start rereading wonderful books of my younger years. I remember Green Dolphin Street and a Scent of Water and City of Bells but can't remember details from them and the Madison Library has copies of all her books with no holds, so a vista of wonderful reading is opening up -- probably mostly after Lent...

5:59 PM  

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