‘There is no friend as loyal as a book’, said Hemingway. (Quite a long sentence for him.) He wasn’t talking specifically about novels, but the point holds true. Disappearing into a novel, letting it shelter, transport and transform you… this is deep, reliable pleasure.

If they represented my bookshelves at home, the what the afternoon knows fiction section would house a vast collection of semi-disintegrated Penguin Classic editions of the great Victorian novels. Each volume would have a full cockade of post-it notes blooming crazily from the top edge of the pages, and marginalia of various dates (and standards) scribbled in pencil against key passages. I wouldn’t let anyone read those scribbled comments. But I hope that as I (slowly) add to these shelves you might feel tempted to seek out some of these great works.

Some non-C19th stuff might make it here too. Maybe…

Middlemarch, George Eliot.
Well, anyone who knows me at all well knows that the first book on my fiction shelves is going to be Middlemarch. If I could download it direct into your heart and head, I would do so, no qualms, no questions, no quibbles listened to. I was delighted to discover, [read more…]