Looking back on 2017, I see a wonderful list of books and honestly I can’t say that I regret reading a single one of them. In this particularly good year of reading (52 books in the year) a few stood out to me.
These are the ten books that left the most indelible impression on me in 2017:
1. Mariana by Monica Dickens
A coming of age novel dealing with a young girl’s quest to find the perfect love. Though the body of the novel is well written and engaging, it is the beginning and ending of the novel that elevate the quality of the story in my opinion, making it truly memorable. There are echoes of Tennyson’s poem ‘Mariana’ in this book.
2. Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson
What a delight of a novel. The characters are excellent, the plot immaculately constructed and the writing is very funny.
A young woman, Miss Barbara Buncle opts to become a novel writer when her annual dividends are not as lucrative as usual. As the young lady has no imagination whatsoever, she writes completely from experience, portraying the people and incidents occurring in her rural corner of England. When the village people read the book and discover themselves (in an unflattering light) in the pages of the story, they determinedly set out to uncover the identity of the perpetrator of the village crime.
3. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
This might be my new favourite du Maurier novel alongside Rebecca. It kept our book club continually guessing (we are still unsure to this day). Apart from the suspenseful aspect of the novel, I enjoyed the Cornish setting and the gothic feel of the story.
4. One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes
This was such a quiet, wistful novel, spanning the events of one particular day. It deals with the struggles of the post-WW2 upper-middle class, coming to terms with the loss of their glorious past and changing domestic situations.
5. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
A suspenseful, fast-paced Victorian novel and a pre-decessor of the modern day thriller, although in my opinion, much better written than most of the modern-day bestsellers.
6. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Hard to describe Mrs Dalloway. Perhaps to me- it strikes as a poem of a novel talking about deep-seated issues – some of them related to mental health. The descriptions of London in the novel are glorious.
7. Earth and High Heaven by Gwethalyn Graham
Set in Toronto during World War 2, Earth and High Heaven deals with the then frowned upon love affair between a Canadian English woman and a Canadian Jewish man. The book is an elaborate social commentary on racial prejudice. It shows how people born into a fixed social pattern can overcome centuries of difference, in an overwhelming desire to embrace the most unifying emotion of all- love.
8. The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
The last book in the Barsetshire Chronicles and Trollope’s most soul searching, heart-rending book about a man’s quest to preserve his integrity in the face of extreme adversity.
9. My Grandmothers and I by Diana Holman-Hunt
A memoir written by the grand daughter of the eminent pre-raphaelite painter William Holman-Hunt. It tells of her unusual upbringing, alternating in the homes of her paternal and maternal grandmothers. It is a wonderful chance to glimpse into the eccentric lifestyle of Holman-Hunt. It’s also a rather poignant memoir written in a cheerful way, from the viewpoint of a young girl, who was essentially an orphan and who never knew the comfort of a stable home.
10. Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
The subject of this Victorian novel had quite a modern tone. It dealt with illegitimacy and the strictures of Victorian society and religion. However, what I appreciated the most about this novel was the fact that the pain and suffering, the vulnerability of a young orphan girl was highlighted, thus painting her plight in a very sympathetic way.
Please leave me a comment sharing your favourite book of the year.
Here’s to many more books in 2018.