I can’t believe how quickly the holidays went by and I hope that everyone had a lovely break from routine and the leisure to enjoy some reading. At this time of year I always love to hear which books people got for Christmas. I usually end up expanding my “to read” list as a result of all the recommendations! This year I added the biography of Sir Stamford Raffles to my list as a result of seeing it on someone else’s pile of presents. Not that I didn’t get some great books too. Here is my haul:
Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale. I was riveted by Kate Summerscale’s previous book, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. It mixed the details of a real Victorian crime with so much additional historical information in a masterly combination of detective story and history. This new book is also a true story about Isabella Robinson who conceived a passion for the husband of a friend of hers and recorded her feelings about their liaison in her diary. Her husband used it as evidence to divorce her. But were her writings truth or fiction? Again Kate Summerscale gives an account of a real legal case but also skilfully interweaves it with a great deal of fascinating period detail.
An unusual choice, perhaps, was Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke, a children’s story about an eleven year old boy who is sent to boarding school and finds himself prey to vengeful ghosts who have picked off every one of his family down the centuries. To help him fight them he calls on the ghost of the long-dead knight William Longespee, illegitimate half brother of Richard Coeur de Lion. This was a great story and William Longespee was – almost literally – to die for. I am such a sucker for knights in shining armour!
Empress of Pleasure was my third book and it is the biography of Teresa Cornelys, an 18th century opera singer and adventuress. What a woman! This was such a great read about an outrageous character and the detail of 18th century society was also beautifully described.
So that’s my festive list – what about you? Any good reads and recommendations?