Monday, 6 January 2014

Jayne's Corner: Jayne Discusses Her Reading Choices

My post this week is about my reading choices

I love reading and have grown up with the opportunity to be able to read books as I wanted if I could get them from the library. My mother was a teacher and was always encouraging my sister and me to read.
The first books I remember reading were by the wonderful Enid Blyton, such as The Famous Five. I loved the adventures Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy the dog had and often felt I was with them. I also read her Secret Seven books as well. I then went to Mallory Towers and The Chalet School books by Eleanor M Brent Dwyer.

Of course I got introduced to the classics as well such as Heidi, Little Women (which has remained one of my all-time favourite books) and many others.

I got introduced to Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights), Thomas Hardy (Far From the Maddening Crowd), Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet) and Joseph Conrad (The Rover) during my time at school when I studied English Literature GSCE (O level as it was called then).
I was also lucky enough to be awarded two prizes at school, one for effort in my fourth year and one for history in my fifth year, which were book tokens so I bought my fist non-fiction history books.

During this time when I was 15 or so I discovered Jean Plaidy (I also read her books as Victoria Holt) and through her I expanded my love of historical fiction. Though I have to admit for a few years I only read anything to do with the Tudor era such as The Shadow of the Pomegranate, The Sixth Wife, Murder Most Royal and many more. I  strayed into the Stuarts as well. Margaret Campbell Barnes was another favorite author.

Over the years though I did start reading the odd book about other eras, I also read books set in the American Civil War as romance ones although I cannot remember which ones.

The next books that changed my life happened when I was living with my now husband and I happened to go to the library one day for something to read. I came across a book which intrigued me about a Scottish nobleman called Francis Crawford, with a very small Mary Queen of Scots in France. It intrigued me so I took it home and began to read it. I realised halfway through that it was not the first in the series, but I carried on to the end. This book was Queens Play by Dorothy Dunnett. I have to admit I only thought it okay but I was determined to read the first one to see what I had missed. This was Game of Kings. I took it home and started to read it; I got about a quarter the way through and stopped as I was finding it difficult to read. I left it a few days and restarted but gave up a few chapters later and returned it to the library. It niggled at me for a few weeks that I hadn’t finished it, so I got it out again and managed to read it all and how glad I was that I did. This book was wonderful and it inspired me to read the rest of the series, which I did, my favourites being Disorderly Knights and Ringed Castle. Dorothy’s writing so inspired me that I looked for more books by her and discovered a second wonderful hero in Nicholas De Fleury  the main character in the House of Niccolo series which are based around the end of the reign  of James II of Scotland and through to his son James III and touching on the Wars of the Roses in England. These actually became my favourite out of the two series. Both heroes travelled through Europe and Turkey and this made me start to have an interest in European and Scottish history which I had not had before. I also joined three Yahoo discussion groups about her books  and through the internet I made many world wide friends, some of whom I have now met at Dunnett-related events.

Because of Dorothy I then went looking for more authors and discovered my other favourite of Sharon Kay Penman. I read her Sunne in Splendour which I loved and then discovered her Welsh trilogy about Llewellyn the Great and his grandsons Llewellyn the last and Davydd his floored brother, and of course as being Welsh I was then inspired to seek out more Welsh history. I also read her Plantagenet series.

I then discovered Facebook and my life changed again. I joined many history groups and my love of fiction has increased with many others such as Elizabeth Chadwick, Helen Hollick, Anne O’Brien, Paula Lofting and Susan Higginbotham. These authors write about different eras and this is wonderful as my interest and knowledge has now grown. I have also bought many non-fiction books on the advice of others, such as The Winter King by Thomas Penn and The Woodvilles by Susan Higginbotham

I then decided I wanted some lighter reading and discovered Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens, which is a Regency romance. I was hooked and have now gone on to read many more of this genre and Georgian and Victorian romances as well  with a lot of the authors now becoming Facebook friends.

I hope you have enjoyed my eclectic choice of books and how they have altered my life.

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  1. Great review Jayne,

    Like you we always encourage our children with reading
    we have about a dozen of Stephanie Lauren books (Heather bought them and I read them)
    will retry DD ! and like you read Jeanplaidy etc

    Love reading

  2. I enjoyed reading your memories of cherished books.

  3. Lovely, Jayne - and what a great idea: a bit like looking at somebody's bookshelf

  4. Wonderful stuff Jayne. It was well worth waiting for.

  5. I'm so glad you gave us this insight into your reading addiction Jayne! I love that you were reading history books when you were so young. And it's still that same today.

  6. Fantastic post; I really enjoyed reading about some of your literary passions!

  7. I see some familiar favorites here, and a reading evolution I can relate to!

  8. I tried to post this before and it didn't take so I'll try again. I so enjoyed your literary life! some of it parallels mine - especially the part about Dorothy Dunnett. When I first tried to read her I started with The Game of Kings and felt utterly lost. I put it down after a few pages and only later, many years hence, did I start it again and was completely entranced with her charismatic, anti-hero (or so I thought!) Francis Crawford of Lymond. PerhapsI had to grow into the book. I was then obsessed and have reread all her books many times. Thanks for sharing.

  9. This is a wonderful blog, Jayne! We share so many of the same tastes! I will be sure to follow this blog. I just checked Game of Kings out of the library, but haven't started on it yet. And the American Civil War and South is my first love. Great to meet you. Are you om Goodreads?

  10. Your list of favourite authors brought back many wonderful memories for me, most especially being curled up in bed reading when I should have been asleep with school the next day. Warm congratulations on your blog!