Huge thanks to Jane Parker for being such a great guest on the inaugural ‘Let’s Talk Books with…’ on 28 April.
Jane talked engagingly about her five favourite books, which covered both a range of ages and a variety of genres.
These are the books she selected:
The Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
There are seven books in the ‘Narnia’ series, written between 1950 and 1956, and published as separate novels over that time. All deal with the magical world of Narnia, and of the arrival of young children into that world, usually to undertake a task or tasks to save Narnia from dark forces. Although they are, nominally, books for children, they are often read and enjoyed by older readers, as they are an engaged and involved set of tales of the way in which good overcomes evil.
The Art of Coarse Acting - Michael Green
This humorous guide book, written by a journalist, is an energising spoof that delights in the disasters that befall those who indulge in amateur dramatics. It was written to poke fun at those who tread the boards too seriously (although it does have some good advice for actors as well), and bases its chapters on all the aspects of acting in local and amateur productions. Green describes a coarse actor as "one who can remember his lines, but not the order in which they come…”
It is one in a series of ‘The Art of…” books by the same author, all of which shed some humorous light on the antics of people and poke fun at those who would take their craft too seriously.
Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy is an epic fantasy novel set, describing the world of ‘Middle Earth’. It begins as a sequel to Tolkien’s other novel, ‘The Hobbit’, and then grows into a wider and larger novel that covers the quest of a young hobbit (Frodo) and his friends as they seek to first protect and then destroy a ring of power, which is being sought by all and sundry. That ring (which first appears in the prequel as a ring found and owned
by a character called Gollum) is a source of high power, and would allow its owner to control the land of Middle Earth, should they wish. That is the heart of the themes in the trilogy; the battle of good and evil, and the constant waging of that war on a personal and cultural level.
The Help - Kathryn Stockett
This book is a historical fictional novel, based in Mississippi in the 1960s, which describes the lives of the inhabitants of a number of white households, and their black servants. The narration is shared between the points of view of three different characters in those households. The heart of the book is about the fight that one of the characters has in overcoming her own privileged background to start to tell the story of the pain of being black and a hired help in the Deep South. The story is cleverly interwoven with the individual stories of those black maids who risk everything to allow their stories to be told.
The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller
This is a modern and exciting rendition of the epic Trojan War, told from the point of those most affected. It draws out the battle between gods and humans, the mythology and passion behind the stories, and builds a compelling narrative that celebrates Patroclus, an awkward young prince, and Achilles. According to the stories, they should never meet, as their destinies are not from the same background, but Achilles embraces the prince as his friend. As they grow into young men their relationship deepens, which angers Achilles’ mother, the sea goddess Thetis.
But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.
If you like the sound of any of these books, or if you are in need of other reading inspiration and recommendations, check out the Cotswold Book Room in Wotton-under-Edge. They are always delighted to match you up with your perfect book!
Our next Let's Talk Books will be on Thursday 24 June with guest Neil Hasson, chair of Wotton Walking Festival.