I know that I’ve told you before that I prefer older fiction to modern. I suppose it’s all a matter of preference, but I just don’t find modern fiction as well written, as believable, as older works. Even books that most people rave over – The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society, for example, which gave me the distinct impression that the author’s inspiration had ended with the title - leave me underwhelmed. I’d rather read a good book that I’ve read twenty times before, than a new book that bores me.
But lately there have been some gleams of hope. Good fiction may not be dead.
The Attenbury Emeralds, a Lord Peter Wimsy novel by Jill Paton Walsh, is absolutely wonderful. Almost better than the original Lord Peter series, if you ask me. The characterisation is spot on, there are no jarring modern notes, and the approach to the setting of the novel is both clever and well crafted. I’m listening to this on audio book, and the narration is adding to my pleasure.
A Woman Of Consequence, by Anna Dean, is the third Miss Dido Kent mystery, set in Regency Britain. Goodness knows, that period has bee thrashed to death by second rate novelists hoping to cash in on Georgette Heyer’s success, and failing spectacularly. So I always approach novels set in that period with extreme wariness. These books, however, don’t try to emulate anyone, and are quite delightful. There is a good balance between mystery, romance, and wit, and again, no unhistorical anachronisms to grate on one’s nerves. I hope there will be more to come in this series.
Finally, another Regency series, which has surprised and entranced me. I have tried reading many of the Jane Austen spinoffs, and have hated pretty much all of them. But the Jane Austen mystery series by Stephanie Barron is good. I’m on the sixth at the moment, Jane & The Ghosts Of Netley, and enjoying it immensely. Not as good as the other books I’ve mentioned, but still very readable. I could wish for fewer editorial footnotes, but I’m picky like that.
Aside from those, I recently bought myself the complete works of Saki in one volume, but I’m saving that for my trip. I rather wish I’d saved The Attenbury Emeralds for the trip too, but it’s too late now, I’ve greedily gobbled most of it up over the last two days.