Monday, December 27, 2010

Books of the Year - Fiction & Classics

I've decided to borrow Cornflower's idea of choosing my favourite books in different categories instead of a straight Top 10 of the year. I've read about 150 books this year (& it's not over yet!) & there have been some wonderful reads among them. Just click on the links to go to my original posts.

My favourite Persephone book of the year was High Wages by Dorothy Whipple. The story of Jane Carter's rise from draper's assistant to dress shop owner & a wonderful picture of provincial English life in the early 20th century. Unputdownable.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I don't need to say much about this. Booker Prize winner, fantastic historical novel about Thomas Cromwell & the Court of Henry VIII.

The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton. I loved this story of a divorced Englishwoman in her 40s moving to a village in the Cevennes & creating a new life.

Then there were the classics. If there was one author I read more than any other this year, it would have to be Wilkie Collins. I've been reading his novels for years & I've read his most famous books, The Moonstone & The Woman In White. This year I read Man & Wife, one of his lesser-known novels, a collection of his novellas, Rambles Beyond Railways, about his travels in Cornwall & some of his short stories.

The surprise classic read of the year for me was The String of Pearls by Thomas Prest. This rollicking melodrama is the basis for the opera Sweeney Todd. I loved it. It was a real surprise as I knew very little about the book before reading it. I expected it to be a bit of a clunky potboiler but, although there were more than a few plot holes, I was swept away by the enthusiam of the telling.

I've been reading Emile Zola's novels over the past few years. This year, I read The Ladies' Paradise, the story of the first department store in Paris & a homage to shopping. Gorgeous, lush descriptions of fabrics & dresses & a collection of wonderful characters.

My favourite mysteries need a post all of their own so I'll be back with more good reads tomorrow.


  1. I still haven't read any Whipple and this is yet another reminder that I really must do something about that! I like the idea of doing your favourites lists by category and I'll look forward to seeing what your favourite mysteries were!

  2. Except for the Prest book (which I'm unfamiliar with), all these are on my piles to read! I love Wilkie Collins, too, and am working on No Name, but I'll have to hold it over to next year I'm afraid. I want to read Wolf Hall next year and more Dorothy Whipple--I read three of her novels this year!