Really I am quite sure that Dorothy Savidge aka My Gran needs no introduction as you all seem to have found a special place in your bookish hearts for her and the posts she features in are commonly some of my most read. Every other ‘Savidge Reads Grills’ victim (oh I mean guest) has had one and Gran would not be impressed if she had found she was being outdone. I always find author interviews interesting, I know some readers don’t, I thought that an interview with a reader would be something a bit new. Finding one who was an avid reader and has been so for many years was easy – my Gran! So without further a do I shall leave you to indulge in a spot of afternoon tea and bookish chat….
What book/books are you reading right now and why that/those books?
Revolutionary Road. I’m reading it because it’s the choice of one of my book groups.
What books started your reading life, and which books kept your passion for reading alive?
Enid Blyton, couldn’t get enough of her. The Famous Five to start with then the Castle of Adventure, Valley of Adventure etc. Next came the Chalet School books, how I longed to go to boarding school. Then historical fiction got to me, The Scarlet Pimpernel series and then the Anya Seton books. Eventually I graduated to Jane Austen and Thackeray and became a real lover of 19th century novels but I was in my 30’s before I read Hardy starting with the Mayor of Casterbridge I devoured all his books one by one but for some reason have never reread any of them. Following these I started on the 20th century particularly Graham Green, but many others especially when Virago came out, I was able to read more women writers. I had a Muriel Spark period also. One of the biggest joys was discovering Trollope (Anthony not Joanna) who is my all time favourite author. The wonderful thing about Trollope is, he wrote so much, I’ve still go lots to go and would love to reread the Pallisers.
What are your reading habits, where do you most like to read? Are there any specific times which are your most responsive reading periods?
I read for an hour every morning in bed no matter what time I wake up. If I am at home at lunch time I read for an hour after lunch also. I rarely watch television because it stops me reading! So if I am at home in the evening I read then. I never go anywhere without a book, it would drive me mad to be sitting waiting for something when I could be reading. The place doesn’t really matter; the only place I don’t read is in the bathroom. I’ve never thought about it before but maybe that’s why I never linger there.
How has your reading taste changed over the years?
This has happened over a great many years, if it doesn’t sound too precious I would say the only thing that has changed is that I can now tell the difference between good and bad writing and I don’t particularly want to waste my time reading rubbish when there are so many good books out there still waiting to be read.
Have you read any books that have changed your life or books that have changed your view on life and the world?
‘The Fatal Shore’ by Robert Hughes, I’d never realised how brutal the settlement of Australia was. ‘If this is a Man’ by Primo Levi. Both Mark Tulley and William Dalrymples writings on India.
How do you get on with contemporary books and authors?
Very well thank you. I remember many years ago looking with horror at my TBR pile and it only contained one book! However by this time my eldest daughter (Simon’s mother), also an avid reader, began to influence my reading habits and introduced me to writers such as Margaret Atwood, who is still one of my favourites. I love Anne Tylers books too, Poisonwood Bible is one of my all time favourites, Snow Falling on Cedars, Cold Mountain, English Passengers, anything and everything by William Trevor I could go on.
Which authors alive today do you think will be most remembered in a hundred years time?
I hope William Trevor. Maybe Margaret Atwood though I’m not sure, possibly John Banville. I’m thinking of the novel here but in actual fact it is more likely to be non fiction writers though I can’t think who.
What is your fondest bookish memory?
When I was a child we only owned a couple of books one was ‘Gone with the Wind’. In my early to mid teens and suffering from a bad bout of flu I decided that the time had come to try a ‘grown up’ book so I started Gone with the Wind, it is a long book so highly suitable for reading during an enforced period of bed rest. After that whenever, in my teens, I suffered from flu I would reread it. The attraction had worn off by the time I got to twenty and I have not read it since though I have seen the film more than once. I should add though we possessed few books there were always a lot of library books, in fact introducing me to the library is one of the things I am most grateful to my parents for.
What are the first fifteen books which you can instantly think of for being unforgettable, not ones that you love the most necessarily…
The ones already mentioned plus Dombey and Son, War and Peace, Emma, Small Island, A Suitable Boy, Our Mutual Friend, Anna Karenina, If this is a Man, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Katherine, The Chequerboard, The Rabbit books by John Updike, Lolita, Two Lives, Bel Canto, The Warden, East of Eden.
What book do you most want to read at the moment that you haven’t?
The Grapes of Wrath.
By the time you have read this Gran will be back up north. She did want to thank everyone individually for all of your thoughts on which books she should vote for as reads for one of her book groups next year. If you have more to add do pop here as she will be popping back. We didnt have time to set up her blog either… but maybe in the New Year!
27 responses to “Savidge Reads Grills… Dorothy Savidge (aka Gran)”
Granny Savidge sounds wonderful – I think you should have a competition to win a chance to meet her for tea. Tell her that The grapes of wrath is definitely worth reading, and I hope she is enjoying Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates was one of my discoveries of last year).
I wish my Gran was so into reading!
Simon – I am now going to be a granny as you know so hope that I will soon be known as Granny Simpson-Long and I have to tell you now that when she is next down to see you I WANT TO MEET HER. She is ME. I agree with nearly every word she says.
As soon as I saw her mention Anthony Trollope and Katherine by Anya Seton and Gone with the wind (I too read it when ill in bed as a teenager) I knew we were kindred spirits…
I was so nice to finally hear from Gran herself! She is one well-read lady. Now I know where you get your passion from! (Hi Gran, its Sandy! I am a little besotted with your home, and have offered to be your maid should you need one!)
Lovely interview Simon, I’m with your Gran about the marvels of Trollope and have a great love of Hardy myself.
I can’t imagine not being greatly affected by If This Is a Man and The Fatal Shore.
And of course, I will have to try some William Trevor.
I love that picture of Dorothy behind the teacake stand. Great little interview and some good reading ideas garnered too. Sounds as if you have a lovely weekend!
I love your Gran! She looks wonderful! Can we all come and have tea and chat with her next time she’s down?!
I share many book preferences with your Gran, and now Granny Savidge has said I have to read Trollope, I am off to consider which I will read first…
What a wonderful reading heritage you come from, Simon! Thank you for allowing us to meet your Gran up close and personal.
This is probably my most favourite blog post this month =) Love the post. Thank you, Simon and Gran!
Sorry for the double post, but I forgot to add that I’m a fran of both Dalrymple and Mark Tully. Dalrymple’s The Last Mughal is a fantastic book =)
I’m very jealous of that afternoon tea in the picture!
Great interview! It is so nice to finally learn a bit more about the famous Granny Savage.
Lovely interview! Enjoyed the answers especially fondest bookish memory – I love Gone With the Wind and also read it as a teenager (I don’t think I was ill).
This is such a great post and put a big smile on my face! I think it’s lovely that you can chat to your Gran about books. I look forward to her next post. By the way, Bel Canto is also one of my favourite books.
I agree with everyone. And yes absolutely Bel Canto — wonderful book.
Your gran has awesome taste!
Hi, Simon! Thanks for sharing these bits about your gran. I feel that I can talk about books to your gran the whole day! And I can’t believe that she read A Suitable Boy! I have yet to meet someone who has read through all 1,200 pages of that doorstop!
Oh, I so love her answer to my question: Have you read any books that have changed your life or books that have changed your view on life and the world? I’ve never read “Fatal Shore”, only because I had Australian history rammed down my throat all through my school years, but the book is widely acknowledged as a masterpiece. I bought a copy for my Other Half about 10 years ago when he wanted to find out more about Oz… I don’t think he ever read it. Well, it was 700+ pages of miniscule text!
Looking at the picture has made me hungry — I do like a nice cake! Did you take tea at the Savoy?
Lovely picture and interview…so nice to “meet” Gran! I’m looking forward to her blog.
I love reading what other readers think, especially lifetime readers like your wonderful Gran. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us. I love that she has to have a book with her wherever she goes…a kindred spirit for me that is for sure!
Wonderful Simon! It’s lovely to have a real interview with an avid reader! I’m already listing some of the books she mentioned….
You are lucky to be able to share your reading life with her. I still remember my granny giving me Jane Eyre because it was her favourite book. I was 8 years old and I couldn’t even get through the first page! She died when I was 9. Many, many years later, I finally read Jane Eyre at the age of 30 and I missed my granny more than ever. It’s now one of my favourite novels and would have been lovely to talk to her about it and share our love of reading now that I’m an adult.
A HUGE thank you AGAIN to everyone who commented on this. Gran has let me know that she loved your repsonses and laughed at some of them, she hasnt specified which ones… I will find out.
Thank you all for your questions, your thoughts and your comments! Sorry you are just stuck with me again now! I will endeavour to answer all your comments individually asap!
Like your grandmother (and I have to say, she looks barely old enough to be your mother!) I fell in love with Enid Blyton as a girl. I devoured her books and desperately wanted to go to a British boarding school. I think I pretended to have a British accent whenever possible, too.
I do hope she blogs in the new year…I’d definitely add her to my must read list!
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