Clutch of Constables is my classic choice for June. I love books by Ngaio Marsh, especially when Agatha “Troy” Alleyn, Inspector Alleyn’s wife, plays a starring role in the book. If you love all things mysterious, you’ll enjoy this great read…
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Clutch of Constables
A classic Ngaio Marsh novel which features blood-curdling murders in the confines of a riverboat, the Zodiac, cruising through Constable country.’He looks upon the murders that he did in fact perform as tiresome and regrettable necessities,’ reflected Chief Superintendent Roderick Alleyn on the international crook known as `the Jampot’.
But it was Alleyn’s wife Troy who knew `the Jampot’ best: she had shared close quarters with him on the tiny pleasure steamer Zodiac on a cruise along the peaceful rivers of `Constable country’. And it was she who knew something was badly wrong even before Alleyn was called in to solve the two murders on board…
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a wonderful classic book I could read again and again. My favorite section is where Colin has a revelation:
“He had known it before in a way, he had hoped it and felt it and thought about it, but just at that minute something had rushed all through him—a sort of rapturous belief and realization and it had been so strong that he could not help calling out. “I shall live forever and ever and ever!” he cried grandly. “I shall find out thousands and thousands of things. I shall find out about people and creatures and everything that grows—like Dickon—and I shall never stop making Magic. I’m well! I’m well! I feel—I feel as if I want to shout out something—something thankful, joyful!”
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The Secret Garden
The orphaned Mary Lennox is sullen, ill tempered, and unloved when she’s sent to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven. A man consumed by grief over the death of his wife, Archibald has allowed his sprawling estate on the moors to fall into grim disrepair. It’s when Mary begins tending to her late aunt’s mysterious garden—locked up and neglected for years—that she discovers its life-changing secrets and a flowering rejuvenation of the human spirit.
Out of this dark, closed-off world and a child’s innate curiosity about life and death comes one of the most transformative coming-of-age novels ever written.
The Moon-Spinners. I love, love, love this classic book by Mary Stewart. She is considered one of the pioneers of romantic suspense. The book was made into a Disney movie in 1964 with Hayley Mills. As a kid, I adored the movie but the book is ten times better. Don’t miss reading this one…
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The pioneer of romantic suspense Mary Stewart transports her readers to the idyllic hills of mid-century Crete in this tale of peril and intrigue that will keep fans of Agatha Christie and Barbara Pym on the edge of their seats.
‘Mary Stewart is magic’ New York Times
‘One of the great British storytellers of the 20th century’ Independent
While on a walking holiday through the beautiful, deserted hills of Crete, Nicola Ferris stumbles across a critically injured Englishman, guarded by a fierce Greek. Nicola cannot abandon them and so sets off on a perilous search for their lost companion – all the while being pursued by someone who wants to make sure none of them leave the island . . .
“When the big white bird flew suddenly up among the glossy leaves and the lemon flowers, and wheeled into the mountain, I followed it.”
Happy New Year! I’m starting off this year on Favorite Friday Fiction with a classic, Quo Vadis. It’s a historical Biblical fiction of sorts dealing with the persecution of early Christians in Rome.
The book has unsurpassed details of that period of time and won the author a Nobel Prize in literature in 1905. A little long and hard to read at times, the story to me is worth reading.
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Rome during the reign of Nero was a glorious place for the emperor and his court; there were grand feasts, tournaments for poets, and exciting games and circuses filling the days and nights. The pageantry and pretentious displays of excess were sufficient to cloy the senses of participants as well as to offend the sensitive.
Petronius, a generous and noble Roman, a man of the world much in favor at the court of Nero, is intrigued by a strange tale related by his nephew Marcus Vinitius of his encounter with a mysterious young woman called Ligia with whom Vinitius falls madly in love. Ligia, a captured King’s daughter and a one-time hostage of Rome, is now a foster child of a noble Roman household. She is also a Christian.
The setting of the narrative was prepared with utmost care. Henryk Sienkiewicz visited the Roman settings many times and was thoroughly educated in the historical background. As an attempt to create the spirit of antiquity, the novel met with unanimous acclaim, which earned the Nobel Prize in literature for the author in 1905. As a vision of ancient Rome and early Christianity it has not yet been surpassed, almost a century later.
During the month of December, I’ll be sharing some of my most-liked Christmas books. For my favorite classic, I introduce an all-time beloved Christmas book and movie, A Christmas Carol. I’ve always been a big fan of Dickens’ works and, to me, this is a fabulous story. It’s whimsical, speculative, full of fantasy and wonder, and with a wonderful life lesson to boot. What more could you ask for in a Christmas classic? And for an added benefit, the one I share below is free on Kindle right now 🙂
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A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London on December 1843. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. A Christmas Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.
The book was written at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from the past as well as new customs such as Christmas cards and Christmas trees. Carol singing took a new lease on life during this time. Dickens’ sources for the tale appear to be many and varied, but are, principally, the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.
It’s the first of a new month and time for a new classic favorite. When I think of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, I enjoy books by Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, and Dorothy Sayers.
My very favorite Dorothy Sayers book is Gaudy Night. Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane have reached a point in their relationship where a decision must be made. Both have past issues they must deal with. Will it be love and marriage or breakup? Read on…
Back at Oxford for her reunion, Harriet Vane, Lord Peter’s beloved, finds herself in mortal danger.
Since she graduated from Oxford’s Shrewsbury College, Harriet Vane has found fame by writing novels about ingenious murders. She also won infamy when she was accused of committing a murder herself. It took a timely intervention from the debonair Lord Peter Wimsey to save her from the gallows, and since then she has devoted her spare time to resisting his attempts to marry her. Putting aside her lingering shame from the trial, Harriet returns to Oxford for her college reunion with her head held high—only to find that her life is in danger once again.
The first poison-pen letter calls her a “dirty murderess,” and those that follow are no kinder. As the threats become more frightening, she calls on Lord Peter for help. Among the dons of Oxford lurks a killer, but it will take more than a superior education to match Lord Peter and the daring Harriet.