Category Archives: Savidge Reads Hall of Fame

The Savidge Reads Hall of Fame… Muriel Spark

Time to introduce my third author into, the rather grandly titled, Savidge Reads Hall of Fame. Muriel Spark is an author I have been reading longer than I have been blogging all thanks to the lovely Polly of Novel Insights, who will be doing a series of monthly guest posts here soon, and how much she used to praise Spark’s works and made me finally take the plunge when she chose ‘Aiding and Abetting’ for a book group we had at an old workplace. Since then, with the exception of a few books, which I think I need to re-read as I didn’t ‘get’ on a first read, I have thoroughly enjoyed every Spark novel that I have read, all the more when her wicked wit and wry knowing prose are at their most extreme.

The first book I read by her was‘Aiding and Abetting’ oddly starting with one of Spark’s later books and one that was based on a true tale which she ‘took great liberties with’.

The reason that I initially read her was… As I mentioned above, the lovely Polly of Novel Insights chose Spark’s penultimate book for a book group we had where we both worked. I admired the tale, based on two men thinking they were the infamous Lord Lucan and a fraudulent psychiatrist, because of the fact she did so much in a relatively small book. I also really liked the dark humour and knowing nature her prose had.

The reason that she has become one of my favourite authors, and I would recommend them, is… I really like the fact that I never know what I am going to get with Spark, I think she keeps her readers on their toes and also throws in a twist or element that you were never expecting. I love the fact she can write fully fledged characters, back and splintering stories and create an entire world within very few pages – she isn’t an author who needs to say a paragraph when she can do it in a sentence. I also love the wicked sense of humour she has and the darker levels that always brood in the background of each tale.

My favourite of her novels so far has been… Without question ‘The Driver’s Seat’. One of her shortest novels but one that actually made me gasp at the sting in the tail of it which I never saw coming. It is a book that packs a huge punch for such a short novel and one that I think everyone should read. Though I always like to savor an authors works to the end, hence why ‘Memento Mori’ will have to wait patiently in the TBR as I have heard that it is meant to be one of her best and darkest.

If there was one of her works I had a wobble with, it would have to be… Oddly enough the book I have had the biggest wobble with is probably her most famous. I really didn’t get ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ at all when I read it. It was my second read of hers and I wasn’t sure afterwards if I would give her another whirl. Polly wisely said that I should try another and maybe come back to it at a later point. I did try more and loved them so Polly was wise and I do think I will give ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ another try one day. I am now intrigued what it was about it I didn’t like or didn’t understand.

The most recent one of her novels that I read was… ‘The Abbess of Crewe’ one of the far too many of her books that are no longer in print, which I think is an absolute crying shame. This was a wonderful tale of some rather crazy nuns (the film adaptation is aptly called ‘Nasty Habits’) and is a satire of the Watergate scandal, that said you don’t need to know anything about to enjoy it though – in fact I avoided knowing about it so I didn’t equate the fictional nuns with real politicians. It was Muriel at her sparklingly wickedest and I would highly recommend you try and track down.

The next of Muriel Spark’s works I am planning on reading is… I quite fancy reading some of her short stories, of which there are many, though I don’t own any of them so that would require shopping. Gran, who is also a fan, is always saying that I should read ‘The Mandelbaum Gate’ so that could be a future read, though I have a lovely old hardback of ‘Do Not Disturb’ which I quite fancy. It is alas another of her books that now seems out of print but you can often find her books in many a second hand bookshop and they have some fabulous old kitsch covers.

What I would love her to do next is… Alas Muriel Spark died six years ago. I would have loved to have been able to have had her partake in a Savidge Reads Grills, though I think that would have been something I could only have dreamt of. I have plenty of her books still to read though.

You can see a full list of Muriel Spark’s works on the Savidge Reads Hall of Fame page, a special page on the blog especially for my favourite authors and links to the books of theirs I have read and reviewed and the ones I haven’t as yet. This will encourage me to read all the books by my favourite authors and may lead you to some new authors if you like most of the ones that I like, if that makes sense. There are some rules though, but you can find more of those on the Hall of Fame page too.

So who else is a Muriel Spark fan? Which of her novels have you read and loved? Are you yet to try her?

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The Savidge Reads Hall of Fame… Susan Hill

Time to introduce my second author into the rather grandly titled, even though it’s not, Savidge Reads Hall of Fame. Susan Hill is an author I have only been reading a little bit longer than I have been blogging, her first Simon Serrailler crime novel was actually my first post and set of book thoughts ever posted on the blog though it wasn’t the first that I had read of hers. Over the last seven or eight years I have been bowled over by how prolific and diverse a writer Susan Hill is, though I think I might be a little bit scared of her if I had the pleasure of meeting her in real life, and so she has become one of my favourite authors – and I still have lots of her books yet to read.

The first book I read by her was‘The Woman in Black’ all those years ago in 2003 believe it or not.

The reason that I initially read her was…  I had been to see ‘The Woman in Black’ for the first time at the theatre for a journalist press trip for a spooky Halloween feature and was completely spellbound (and absolutely petrified) and so I wanted to read the book behind the play and I loved it as much if not more. The rest, as they say, is history.

The reason that she has become one of my favourite authors, and I would recommend them, is… I think it would be the diverse nature of Susan Hill’s work, and I am aware with books like ‘I’m the King of the Castle’ ahead of me there is more to come. You have the wonderful Simon Serrailler series (another SS, always a fan of those ha) which fall under the crime genre, so thrill and have pace, and yet also give a real insight into the human condition. You also have her wonderfully atmospheric ghost stories and of course a huge diverse range of literary novels and short story collections, what more could you ask for in a favourite author. I also like the fact they all have a sense of darkness to them, or the ones I have read so far have had anyway. Am I allowed to say that whilst sometimes I may not agree with what she says I do love the fact that she is outspoken, I bet she is fascinating to have a chat with.

My favourite of her novels so far has been… Probably ‘The Woman in Black’ so far but I really like the Simon Serrailler series, even if I did have a bumpy start with them. I must also mention her non-fiction Howard’s End is on the Landing’ which is a wonderful, wonderful book about books, the power they have and the joy they are, writing and being a bit of a book hoarder if we are honest (no offense Susan, the best of us are I believe). You can also see when I reviewed it Susan left a lovely comment, we haven’t met up for tea and cakes yet though, ha!

If there was one of her works I had a wobble with, it would have to be… I gave up on the first Serrailler novel ‘The Various Haunts of Men’ the first time I tried it as I felt I was getting anything but a murder (nearly 100 pages in and no murder had been done) and that was what I wanted reading wise at the time. The second time though I came back to it with the knowledge that you get more than just murder and crime with the series. That said I almost fell out with them again at the end of ‘The Pure in Heart’ because of the ending which almost made me throw the book across the room (and I think that is why I didn’t write about it on here)… however in hindsight, and after calming down, I thought it was very clever. I can’t say why though for spoilers.

The most recent one of her novels that I read was… ‘Dolly’, her latest ghost story which I reviewed yesterday, and I think it is probably my second favourite of her ghost stories. It has that slight Victorian/Edwardian feeling about it and the ghostly tales of old. Wonderful autumnal night reading.

The next of Susan Hill’s works I am planning on reading is… Really it should be ‘I’m the King of the Castle’ because I don’t think you are meant to call yourself a Susan Hill fan if you haven’t read it, though I have to say that I might give her third novel ‘Gentlemen and Ladies’ a try soon. It is the oldest of her novels I have, though if anyone would like to buy me a copy of her debut novel ‘The Enclosure’ for the bargain price of around £100 that would go to the top of my TBR without hesitation. Actually all that said I am very behind with the Simon Serrailler series so maybe ‘The Shadows in the Street’ next?

What I would love her to do next is… If I could get Susan Hill to write anything next it would have to be a massive doorstop of a Victorian sensation novel with all the mystery, murder, ghostly revenge and asylums you could wish for. That, I think, would be amazing.

You can see a full list of Susan Hill’s works on the Savidge Reads Hall of Fame page, a special page on the blog especially for my favourite authors and links to the books of theirs I have read and reviewed and the ones I haven’t as yet. This will encourage me to read all the books by my favourite authors and may lead you to some new authors if you like most of the ones that I like, if that makes sense. There are some rules though, but you can find more of those on the Hall of Fame page.

So who else is a Susan Hill fan? Which of her novels have you read and loved? Are you a Serrailler, literary or spooky Susan Hill fan, or like me a fan of all three?

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The Savidge Reads Hall of Fame… Ian McEwan

So today seemed the ideal time to start a new series of posts on the blog in the form of, the rather grandly titled, Savidge Reads Hall of Fame. Over the next few weeks, months and years as I continue on my reading life I will be doing special posts on my favourite authors. I have also created a special page on the blog especially which will contain all the titles by the author and links to the books I have read and reviewed of theirs along the way. This will encourage me to read all the books by my favourite authors and may lead you to some new authors if you like most of the ones that I like, if that makes sense. There are some rules though, but you can find more of those on the Hall of Fame page.

Anyway without further ado my first author in the Savidge Reads Hall of Fame is Ian McEwan…

The first book I read by them was… The very first novel I read by Ian McEwan was his very first novel ‘The Cement Garden’, though I didn’t realise it at the time, it was random fate.

The reason that I initially read them was… If I am being honest, which I think is best; there was no huge plan for me to pick up an Ian McEwan book. I was just meandering through my mother’s shelves when I was in my mid-teens and I picked ‘The Cement Garden’ simply because it was short. I wasn’t expecting it to be the dark and frankly rather shocking story of incest and murder that it was, yet that was actually what gripped me.

The reason that they have become one of my favourite authors, and I would recommend them, is… He never writes the same novel twice. Even if the subject, like in ‘Solar’, might not be the sort of thing that I am interested in he always makes me interested. His narrators always have quirks and you can never quite work them out, yet you like them even if occasionally you know you shouldn’t. I also like the fact there is inevitably a dark streak at the heart of them.

My favourite of their novels so far has been… I think it has to be ‘Atonement’ as it is a masterpiece. That said I think as a novella ‘On Chesil Beach’ is utterly brilliant. It was the first novella I read that showed me they could be as powerful, if not more so, than any novel. Read it!!!

If there was one of their works I had a novel with it would have to be… I actually have two. I started ‘Saturday’ and didn’t quite get on with it, so gave it up but will return to it – I think it was all the brain surgery stuff. I also found ‘First Love, Last Rights’ a compelling read but utterly disturbing and uncomfortable to read, almost too much so.

The last one of their novels that I read was… His latest novel ‘Sweet Tooth’ which is probably his most autobiographical and a must for McEwan fans.

The next I am planning on reading is… I think I need to read ‘Enduring Love’ next out of all of his books because I have heard it has one of the most brilliant opening sequences ever. This excites me.

What I would love them to do next is… I would actually really like him to write another collection of short stories. Having read him writing some short stories as a character in ‘Sweet Tooth’, and enjoying those stories within the story so much, I think it would be really interesting to have another collection of ‘Ian Macabre’ stories, though maybe he has mellowed.

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So that is my first one done. There may be another in just a few weeks, we will see as I want to do it on whim. So who else do you think might end up in my Hall of Fame? Who would be in yours? What do you think of this new series of posts? Do let me know.

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