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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Boooks that have stayed with me all my life

In July, my husband and I travelled to Wales where every year we teach at the fabulous Writers’ Holiday  at Caerleon near Newport. And as we do every  year on the way there , we stopped overnight in a small Worcestershire town called  Great Malvern (I always think it’s funny that it’s called Great Malvern when it’s such a tiny place – but that’s England for you, in the same way  that  the name of the county in which this town lies is pronounced  Woostershire!).  Anyway, we  spent a pleasant day wandering  round the town, had tea in a lovely teashop,  my husband indulged his love of old second hand bookshops  - and then we had a leisurely dinner in the hotel.

The hotel’s lounge has a bookshelf full of books, some that have been there for ages and some that past guests have finished with and  left behind.  He picked up one that interested him and started to browse through it.  I  looked up and noticed the title and was immediately taken back to my  childhood and to a date when I had first read this book – it was originally published in 1962.
The book was  The Escape of the Princess by Jane Lane and it’s a historical novel written about the Princess Clementina Sobieski, the grand-daughter of  King John III of Poland who eventually married James Stewart the exiled son of James II of England and became the mother of the prince known as Bonnie Prince Charlie. But this is the story of her life before all that  when as Clementina travels from to meet her bridegroom, she is captured and imprisoned in Innsbruck as her cousin tried to prevent the marriage taking place.  Captain Charles Wogan, a young Irish supporter of James, was sent to try to rescue the princess and, aided by two Irish kinsmen, another Irish cavalry officer and his young French wife, together with her unpredictable maid,  bring her safely to her wedding.   This book had intrigued me when I was younger and I had read it avidly for a very special reason – that Charles Wogan was my great-great-great-great-great . . .  (I’m not quite sure just how many greats!) grandfather on my mother’s side of the family. In fact I have a very old silver spoon that has the initials CW  on it that  everyone believes may well have belong to Charles himself.
I read the copy of this story in the library all those years ago, returned the book,  and then  largely forgot about it . If I remembered it, it was only vaguely – and now here it was right in front of me bringing back all sorts of memories.   But this time there was something I could do about it – a quick search of the used book shops on the internet soon found me a copy of this novel for myself and by the time I got home it was waiting for me. I spent a very happy afternoon rereading it and reminding myself of the dramatic and romantic story of Clementina and Charles and their journey.
One of the very best things about having  the internet has been being able to do this – to find long ago treasures from my childhood , get hold of copies and reread them. I discovered a really old favourite  - Simona’s Jewel (this was old even when I first read it!) and another book by the same author Two of Red and Two of Blue. There were the Romney Marsh Stories of Monica Edwards, too – lots of books that I had once loved so much but hadn’t seen again in years.  Interestingly enough, they all had dark, ambiguous, strong heroes – even if those heroes were only 15 or so!
It’s easy to see where my personal alpha heroes in my modern day romance come from when you look back at these  childhood stories. And it’s particularly appropriate that I should be thinking about these older  books now when the newest book of mine  - then one that’s coming out very soon -  is inspired by one  of favourite ever books, one that swept me away when I first read it (about the same time as  The Escape of The Princess)  - and that’s Wuthering Heights.
The Return of the Stranger is coming  out in the UK just now and is being published in America and Australia in October 2011. (Some people have been worried that this is a copy – or steals from the original.  Instead it’s a book that takes Wuthering Heights as its launch point and inspiration. So much so that in fact the Bronte  Society at Haworth Parsonage itself has asked me to give a talk about writing this book and using that amazing novel as a starting point. But you don’t have to have read Wuthering Heights to understand it, The Return of The Stranger stands up as a romance all on its own.
I’ll tell you a bit more about The Return of The Stranger next time, when it’s so much closer to the publication date. To celebrate the publication  of this book, I’m going to be really busy with a hectic and full Blog Tour that launches on September 11th when I’ll start it all off on my web site. After that,  you can follow  my tour all over the blogosphere – and maybe win yourself some great prizes of books that  you’ll want to remember just as I’ve always remembered these ones.  Check out my blog – and this great AuthorPage  so you can join in all the fun.
In the meantime, to start things off here – what favourite book from your childhood or youth would you love to find again? Have you tried to track one down? Or like me have you actually found a very special book? I have a book from my backlist for one lucky poster in the comments section.
Kate Walker’s The Return of the Stranger  is out now in the UK and published on October 4th in Presents Extra  in  America or Sexy Romance in Australia.  You can find out more details over on  Kate's Web site  – with  all the most up to date news on her blog.

23 comments:

Virginia said...

Gone With the Wind is a book I would love to have a copy of. It was the book that got me started reading. I loaned my copy out many years ago and never got it back. I have tracked town all the back list of a favorite author before and still have them stored away.

lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

Kara Lennox said...

The Hidden Staircase (YA romantic suspense, not by Nancy Drew, author unknown, read in jr.high)
The Crystal Cave
The Thornbirds
Banish Misfortune (Anne Stuart)
Lightning that Lingers (Tom & Sharon Curtis--rereading right now!)

BiteMeAsh said...

I'm lucky that the first book that got me reading romances all started with The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss!

Still have it with me today as I helped myself in keeping it as it was previously my sisters *grin*

I am looking for two books which I think have gone out of print ;(
- Lovescape by Anne Avery, Phoebe Conn, Sandra Hill, Dara Joy
- To Charm a Prince by Patricia Grasso

Can't wait until your book arrives in SA ;o)

Rita
bitemeash(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Laney4 said...

Hey there, Kate!
I used to read Enid Blyton's NODDY books and just loved them. My sister gave me one years ago that her kids put in her yard sale and it didn't sell. You should have seen how excited I was to receive this tattered book, which is still a valued addition to my book cabinet, I might add! (I have NODDY GOES TO TOYLAND, but there must be dozens more out there of other NODDY titles.)

Melanie Milburne said...

Kate, there are so many! I did read years and years ago a book by an early Australian author called Di Double Di and in one of our moves I seem to have lost it. I haven't thought until now to go searching for it on Amazon or something. Thanks for jolting my memory!
Looking forward to your Wuthering Heights inspired book.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

When I was about 11, my mom had this historical romance that I wanted to read so badly. And I did, while she was at work and school was out. It was by Jessica March, and it was called Embrace the Fury. Looking back, I realize how bad the history in it was. But oh, it took my imagination and ran away with it! I loved that book with all the passion a kid can love an illicit story. And yeah, it was quite illicit. Opened my little eyes, I have to say.

When I was a little bit older, The Thornbirds did it for me. Lost myself in that book! And the miniseries. I never much cared for Richard Chamberlain as Father Ralph, but I still loved it.

Then there were all the other books I loved along the way, including Black Beauty and the Black Stallion books. And always, always Harlequin Presents. :)

marybelle said...

I would love to buy a copy of SEVEN LITTLE AUSTRALIANS. The adventures of this pioneering family was a great favourite of mine as a child. The TV series was excellent too. So I will need a DVD as well.

Kate Walker said...

Hi Virginia - Gone with the Wind is an amazing book isn't it? At least there are always copies of this one in print for you to get a copy of it easily. And I've don e exactly what yo've done - tracked down all the backlist of a favourite author so then I can reread whenever I want to

Kate Walker said...

Hello Kara - I don't know The Hidden Staircase - but The Thornbirds was something I read ages ago - and The Crystal Cave - I loved that book. I have all of Mary Stewart's books and I collected some really old first editions of hers - including The Crystal Cave

Kate Walker said...

Hi Rita! I hope you find those two books - the internet is great for tracking down long lost loves (in book form anyway!) And how great that you have your own copy of that very special book.

I'm not sure when The Return of The Stranger reaches SA - hoppefully soon and I do hope you enjoy it when you get hold of it.

Kate Walker said...

Hi Laney - Noddy - of there must be hundreds of Noddy titles! But I think Noddy Goes to Toyland must be one of the very first - I hope you track some more down

Kate Walker said...

How nice to 'see' you here Melanie - for tracking down old long lost books I use the Bookfinder site and I just had a quick look to see if Di-Double-Di is available there. There are a few copies. That is such an intriguing title - it makes me wonder what the book is about.

I hope you enjoy my 'Wuthering Heights' - it's a little extra stress to think of other authors reading it.

Kate Walker said...

Lynn, Hello! Lovely to 'see' you too. Oh that sounds like just the perfect sort of book to get you reading and not wanting to put it down - and what a title! Embrace the Fury! They don't make them like that any more. I swallowed The Thornbirds whole too - but like you I could never get into Richard Chamberlain as the hero. And oh yes - Black Beauty and the Black Stallion . . . . Happy memories

Kate Walker said...

Marybelle - Seven Little Australians - I've heard of that but never read it. I'v e seen the book but not a DVD - so I wish you luck in your search for it.

Now I must go and find Sid the cat to get him to pick a winner - or perhaps if he's gone wandering then his apprentice and trainee Charlie the Maine Coon will pick a winner instead. . . I'll be back

Nas Dean said...

I startd reading with Gulliver's Travels. The fantasy and the adventures...sigh!

Then came Enid Blyton series, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Alfred Hitchcock.

Amidst all these there was a forbidden book, hidden by my elder sister, a Harold Robyns, titled...Kiss the Boys and Make them die. I read THAT!

I wonder if I'm correct on the title. Have to check through the net now. I remember it was the first Sheikh story I read by the way! Very hot!

Helen Lacey said...

Books that stayed with me?
I loved Little Women when I was young. And all the Anne Of Green Gables series. Plus Call Of The Wild by Jack London. And Black Beauty, and everything by Jane Austen . . . so many books. I remember when I was twelve I read Lover & Gamblers by Jackie Collins - but had to hide it so my mother wouldn't find out :)
Great post Kate.

Nas Dean said...

Oh, Helen I read some of Jackie Collins too! The Stud and Hollywood Wives.

Laurie G said...

The Cricket In Times Square by George Selden, Heidi by Johanna Spyri, Charlotte's Web by EB White, Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith, Leon Uris Exodus Ian Fleming James Bond novels and Coma by Robin Cook

Kate Walker said...

Well it's a good job that I coulnd't find Sid - or Charlie - who had both taken advantage of a brief gap in the rain and wandered out into the garden because there are more of you whose names need to go into the choice for winners

Hello Nas! I always loved Enid Blyton books too - I read any of those I could get my hands on. In the UK we got some of The Hardy Boys and I read those though I never wanted to go back and reread them - but I did read almost anything!

Kate Walker said...

Hello Helen - I loved Little Women and the follow ups - Good Wives Little Men and Jo's Boys but Little Women was always my favourite. Jack London - yes - but my mother would have hit the roof if any of Jackie Collins' books were brought into her house! Even if I'd hidden it!

Kate Walker said...

Laurie - many of your titles are new ones to me except James Bond and oh yes, Heidi - I won a copy of Heidi for coming 3rd in class one year and I still have it. That's a real memory for me.

Kate Walker said...

And now that Sid has come in - it's raining again!

The Winner is - Helen Lacey

Helen please can you email me kate AT kate-walker.com and I'll sort out your prize

The rest of you I hope I'll see you along my Blog Tour soon.

Michele L. said...

Congats to Helen!