The best book choices for readers who like a varied book diet (chomp chomp)

The Books I Picked & Why

Emma

By Jane Austen

Book cover of Emma

Why this book?

I recommend Austen’s Emma because of the sensational complexity of the plot, the little clues scattered throughout the novel, the brilliance of the characterization (Mrs. Elton, Miss Bates). It isn’t strictly a romance, but there is great feeling in it – and unrivalled skill. It’s probably the most approachable “masterpiece” ever written!


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The Small House at Allington

By Anthony Trollope

Book cover of The Small House at Allington

Why this book?

The delight of this book is in the characters of the two sisters, and the character development/coming-of-age arc of the hero.

We have two sisters in a little village (living in the Small House at Allington). They are very different, but both delightful - one sought by a cousin she can't care for, the other jilted by a casual gallant.

As I've written elsewhere, the plot is Austenesque and the writing not far inferior - the dialogue instantly transports one to the period, to the village, and every character is cleverly drawn. It was first published in serial form, so there are no boring bits. There's a satirical portrait of high society, too, and the men are much better-developed than is generally the case in the period. There's a HEA, but not necessarily the one expected!! Highly recommended!


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Mapp and Lucia

By E.F. Benson

Book cover of Mapp and Lucia

Why this book?

I recommend Mapp and Lucia, first, because E.F. Benson is a hugely underrated humourist, and secondly, because there is a fundamental connection between his Lucia books and Austen’s. The societies are not dissimilar… the styles are both effortless. I recommend any lover of Austen to check out the Lucia books!


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Joy in the Morning

By P.G. Wodehouse

Book cover of Joy in the Morning

Why this book?

I could have picked most of the Jeeves novels - though the Mulliner stories are almost as funny - of the immortal P.G. Wodehouse, but this one is especially full of panache. Bertie Wooster is forced to pretend to be Gussie Fink-Nottle in Deverill Hall - a stately pile infested with any number of critical aunts - and the machinations Jeeves is involved in while sorting out the love lives of the rest - not Bertie, on this occasion - are brilliantly done. A great introduction to Wodehouse, for the uninitiated - for the aficionados, a treat.


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Lord Hornblower

By C.S. Forester

Book cover of Lord Hornblower

Why this book?

Hornblower is a fantastic character, and the entire series is worth a read, but C.S. Forester got more accomplished throughout the series. Meticulously researched - and recently wildly popular, thanks to a TV series - the books are still much deeper, more resonant, and better!! Hornblower is in constant turmoil, too sensitive for his own good or for the crises every Admiral probably had to face, he is also so self-conscious that even in love - and he is very passionate - he can't quite let go. Combine that with a number of vivid females and still more interesting fellow officers - all with their own crosses to bear - and the Napoleonic war on the seas and... could not have been written better.


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