To celebrate Biblio-Buzz, Ally Pally Children’s Book Award, we’re asking people to select their own Desert Island Books. Here’s our volunteer Jeannie’s selection:
Middlemarch, George Eliot: Still relevant, fantastic insight into the human condition and a brilliant portrayal of the intertwining lives of disparate characters and intricate observations of power, politics, status, class and society.
Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan: I’d list pretty much all of his books, but this one struck a real chord. Clever, intriguing and a brilliant twist. But then don’t all of his books challenge and surprise?
The Amerian Boy, Andrew Taylor: Highly atmospheric and gripping murder mystery set in and around Stoke Newington in the early 19th century, with a young Edgar Allen Poe at its heart. A fab blend of fiction and non-fiction. Good for Wilkie Collin fans.
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak: Magical and childlike, a heart-rending tale loaded with feeling made more powerful by the simplicity of the telling. Unique, I’d say. Not so keen on his latest tome, Bridge of Clay that would have benefitted from massive editing!
Of Human Bondage, W. Somerset Maugham: Semi-autobiographical, this is a deeply moving portrayal of the price of passion and the need for connection and to be loved and lost opportunity.
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens: A tale of sacrifice, trust, transformation and about being personally responsible for choices made in life. Fab quotes abound – ”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” and ”It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…” Tear-jerking selflessness.
Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood: Tough choice, because Handmaid’s Tale is right up there. Based on real life events, it tells the compelling tale of a mid-nineteenth century murder, with Grace and possibly her multiple personalities at its heart. Flashbacks keep the reader guessing.
The Ministry of Fear, Graham Greene: Expertly crafted, a murky tale of espionage and the somewhat ludicrous nature of the Secret Service. Preposterous at times, this was probably Greene’s intention because as is often the case when Government secrets are revealed, we say, ”you couldn’t make it up”.
The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters: A mother and daughter of social standing fall on hard times post WW1 and must take in ‘paying guests’ Tension builds and events take a horrific turn. Sarah Waters is talented at building atmosphere and introducing uncomfortable turns of events.
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley: Well drawn characters and mysterious and gothic-ky. A nod to how accidents and coincidences influence lives and events.