April 12, 2014

Fascinating families

Filed under: recommended reading — Rhiannon Lassiter @ 11:05 am

Earlier this year I read Brideshead Revisited for the first time and to be honest, I was disappointed. I’d heard it was a classic story about someone falling in love with a family. Perhaps the problem was that I didn’t fall in love with the characters or find them fascinating at all. Here are some recommended books which made fall in love with the fascinating family portrayed.

  • The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
    Based on Mitford’s own eccentric upbringing and full of her quick wit and laconic style. After reading this I read everything Mitford I could get my hands on.
  • The Camomile Lawn by Mary Wesley
    Set during the Second World War, this follows the stories of five cousins who we meet on holiday at their aunt and uncle’s house, known for its camomile lawn, about to take part in ‘The Terror Run’, a night time race along a cliff path. Oliver, Calypso, Polly, Walter and Sophy and their friends and relations are followed through the course of the war as they grow in unexpected directions.
  • Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido
    The first of a multi branching narrative but it entirely stands alone. Katherine is introduced by her Professor Jacob Goldman to his family and falls for the beautiful slim and serious Roger with an embroidered butterfly on the back pocket of his jeans. But the whole family fascinates Katherine and she becomes over invested in their lives and struggles to find her own independent self.
  • A Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh
    An Inspector Alleyn detective story but one in which Alleyen falls into the background behind the brilliant and eccentric Lampreys who treat murder like a parlour game and admit openly how ridiculous they are.
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    An artistic family rents a dilapidated castle and when new neighbours move, Cassandra’s sister Rose is ready to fall in love with the eligible older son. As Cassandra narrates the budding romance she tries to ignore her own worries. But is Rose really in love or just pretending because she wants what love will bring her.
  • The Tricksters by Margaret Mahy
    Ariadne “Harry” Hamilton is quiet and owlish, a quiet seventeen-year-old, overshadowed by glamourous older sister Christabel. Christmas in New Zeland is a beach holiday for the family at Carnivale’s Hide: one with unexpected guests, three of whom resemble characters from Harry’s novel. This magical realist novel is firmly rooted in the story of family relationships.
  • Wise Children by Angela Carter
    The dancing Chance sisters are illegitimate children of the theatrical royalty Hazard family. The song-and-dance girls tap dance their way through the family’s fortunes and disasters.
  • The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones
    This is the one of Diana’s novels based the most closely on her wn eccentric family. But which of the four girls we meet is the ghost? Unravelling the mystery is essential to surving their childhood.
  • Ballet Shoes by Noël Streatfeild
    The three adopted Fossil sisters have to train for the stage in order to make a living and vow to revive the family fortunes. Pauline is an actress and Posy is a dancer’s daughter but Petrova the middle sister only just tolerates her dancing for the sake of the family.
  • Out of the Ordinary by Annie Dalton
    Molly writes a mock advert for ‘Quests Undertaken’ and finds herself and the family foster children drawn into the magical mystery of a very strange child.

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