Monday 18 June 2018

My Top Historical Novels - Celia Rees

Like many writers, I have a lot of books. They are threatening to take over the house. It is time for some sorting out and that inevitably means some will have to go. How am I going to decide which to keep and which to throw? The shelves need cataloguing. I'm not talking Dewey Decimal but it would be helpful if the books were in some sort of order. Relevant titles would be easier to find and that would save time. 

As I'm a writer of historical fiction, I thought I might begin with those titles, collect them all together and put them in author order.  These are some of the titles I will be keeping. These are books that mean something to me. Books that changed my perceptions of historical fiction, that have stayed with me, some for a very long time. Books that I discovered as a young reader and as an adult long before I even thought of writing, let alone writing historical fiction. Some are books that I simply admire, that I go to when I think my own writing needs a boost, by writers who leave me in awe to wonder:  'How do they do that? I couldn't do that!'

Here are ten of my 'keepers': 

Margaret Atwood - alias grace

Emily Brontë - Wuthering Heights

Charles Frazier - Cold Mountain

William Golding - To the Ends of the Earth Trilogy

Cormac McCarthy -  Border Trilogy

Hilary Mantel - Wolf Hall, Bringing Up the Bodies and A Place of Greater Safety

Annie Proulx - Accordian Crimes

Mary Renault - The King Must Die, The Bull From The Sea

Rosemary Sutcliff - Eagle of the Ninth

Leo Tolstoy - War And Peace

Celia Rees


Elizabeth Chadwick said...

I'm forever trying to find new places to store my fiction collection, many of which are historical. I have occasional clear outs but it's so difficult and while I love my Kindle, it's not the same.
I love that everyone's book collections are so different. On your list we share the Mary Renault, Charles Frazier and Rosemary Sutcliff. Mine would include works by Dorothy Dunnett, Sharon Kay Penman, Ruth Beebee Hill and Mary Stewart.

Susan Price said...

Wouldn't argue with any of your choices, Celia, but I would add Sutcliffe's 'Sword at Sunset' and 'The Rider on the White Horse.'

Also Treece's 'Viking Trilogy' which I LOVED as a child. And Tom Holt's 'The Walled Orchard.'

And a pile of Heyers and Lofts' which remind me of my mother, as wall as being great reads.

I think a house groaning with the books packed inside it is an indication that a writer lives there. My problem has grown worse since a Barnardo's shop opened ten minutes walk from me, next to the little Coop supermarket. I go out to pick up a few groceries and come back with five more books.

Lynne Benton said...

I know that feeling, Sue! And Celia, if you come up with a foolproof system for sorting books so you can actually find the ones you want, please do let us all know! I know I should get rid of some of mine, but it's so hard to decide which. So I suspect they will all stay on my shelves for the foreseeable future, probably double-parked...

Celia Rees said...

I love to hear other people have the same problem and am comforted by your words, Sue. I sympathise with taking books to the charity shop and coming out with more. I do that, too!