(books I always have near):
- Jane Austen: The Complete Novels. The ultimate comfort food. In times of stress I turn to Jane.
- The Works of Dumas. I have a marvelous complete set of Alexandre Dumas’s writings published in 1893. Though paperback versions (provided they are unabridged) are easier to carry around, the engravings in these volumes make them worth the caution they take to read. While the well known works are a swashbuckling treat, if you are up for something less well known may I recommend The Black Tulip.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. One of those wonderful books that changes as you do. With sixteen-year-old eyes I swooned for Levin, as a law-student I found him an irritating hand wringer.
- Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville. Such a slender volume. Such a huge impact.
- Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
- The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works
- Another Place, Another Spring by Adrienne Jones. I loved many books during my childhood but this one wormed its way into my brain as no other. To this day I can recall entire scenes and bits of dialogue.
- Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scot. Someday I am going to re-read this and find that Ivanhoe has married Rebecca. I tried to name one of my daughters Rowena because of this book only to be stymied by my husband.
(What I am reading, thinking & talking about at the moment):
- The Dreadful Judgement by Neil Hanson tells the human story of the Great Fire of London through the eyes of individuals caught up in it. Hanson combines modern knowledge of physics, forensics and arson investigation with eye-witness accounts to produce a searing depiction of London’s terrible destruction. I just could not put this one down.
- When the King Took Flight by Timothy Tackett. Hackett, a historian specializing in the French Revolution, weaves the pulse-pounding story of the royal family’s 1791 attempt to flee Paris in unprecedented detail. Louis XVI hoped to reach Montmédy and establish a new court there, and he came very close to reaching safety. Sometimes overlooked, this failed escape was one of the defining events of the French Revolution.
- Catherine de’ Medici (times TWO). A pair of biographies that share a title, one by R.J. Knecht and the other by Leonie Frieda. These are on my desk as I work on a new “mother-daughter” novel set in 16th Century France
- Joinville and Villehardouin: Chronicles of the Crusades. This volume contains my favorite translation of The Life of Saint Louis and it has been within arms-reach all the time I was researching and writing The Sister Queens. Want to view the 13th Century Court of France through the eyes of the handsome Seneschal of Champagne? Pick up a copy of this.
- Eleanor of Provence: Queenship in Thirteenth-Century England by Margaret Howell. A marvelous biography of Eleanor. Want to know more about this particular “sister queen?” Look no further.
- Bernini His Life and His Rome by Franco Mormando. As compelling and readable as the best fiction, Mormando takes us into dark, devious and divine 17th century Rome time of the Barberini Pope and the great artist who had extraordinary access to the Holy Father as well as the Pope’s full support.