Here's a James I do enjoy, P D James. One of my favourite crime writers. Storm Jameson's autobiography, Journey from the North, was another Virago bargain from that bookshop I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed it very much although I don't think I've read any of her fiction. It's recently been made available as ebooks by Bloomsbury, so I really should give it a try. Elizabeth Jenkins is another favourite biographer. I've read The Princes in the Tower & the books about Elizabeth I several times. At the end are the recent Mara Kay reprints. The Youngest Lady in Waiting was the book that began my fascination with Russia & the Romanovs.
An ancient Nancy Drew that I can't bring myself to weed. I read all of them when I was a child. John Murray Kendall's biography of Richard III is one of the most important books written about Richard & hugely influential in the pro-Ricardian world. Kipling's first novel, The Light that Failed, was the choice of my 19th century bookgroup & a fascinating novel.
This shelf is dominated by Nella Last & Hermione Lee. Nella Last's diaries are among the most famous written during & after WWII. Hermione Lee is the biographer of, among others, Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf & Penelope Fitzgerald (still tbr). I also enjoyed her collection of essays, Body Parts.
I remember reading Doris Lessing's Martha Quest novels (in the edition with the big L on the cover) during my first few years at the library service where I still work. I was one of those readers who would sit in the kitchen at lunchtime hoping no one else would come in & want to chat. Not all the time, just when I was in the middle of a particularly good book. I also discovered The Diary of a Provincial Lady & Sue Grafton's alphabet series at that library so our collection had everything. Joan Lindsay's Picnic at Hanging Rock is another book I read many times as a teenager & it's impossible to think of the book without hearing the haunting pan pipes of the soundtrack.
Penelope Lively & David Lodge are two authors whose books I love & mostly borrowed from the library. The TV series of Lodge's Nice Work, with Warren Clarke & Haydn Gwynne, has recently been released on DVD & I'd love to see it again. Norah Lofts was another favourite of my teenage years, especially the House trilogy which has recently been republished. Again, I've only kept her biography of Anne Boleyn, mostly because of the lovely illustrations. Yes, Minister & Yes, Prime Minister are two of my favourite TV series, I can watch them over & over again. The episode where Sir Humphrey's key is taken away from him always makes me cry with laughter. As you can see, I also have the radio versions.
Agatha Christie's memoir, Come, tell me how you live (shelved here because she wrote it under her married name, Mallowan), is a delightful book about her travels in the Middle East with her archaeologist husband. She had a self-deprecating sense of humour. The scene where she goes shopping for suitable clothes & is snubbed by the snooty saleswoman because Modom is "outsize", O.S. rather than a Full Woman, is very funny. I remember listening to Olivia Manning's Balkan trilogy on audio, read by Harriet Walter. Even now, when I pick up the book, I hear her pronunciations of all those exotic places, the Athénée Palace (with the accent on the last syllable of Palace) & the Cișmigiu Gardens in Bucharest. I'd love to listen to them again. Regina Marler's Bloomsbury Pie is the kind of book I love. Rather than a straight biography of the group, it's an exploration of the way the Bloomsberries have been regarded & written about over the last century, the rise & fall & rise of their reputations.
Next week, Marlowe to Plath.