Nicola here, introducing this month’s Ask A Wench where we are talking about old and new treasures on the bookshelf, which is a riff on the “if you like this author, you’ll enjoy this one” idea. Amazon in particular makes a point of recommending authors on the basis of the books you order from them. Sometimes their recommendations are spot on and you discover another great author in the same genre. Other times, their idea of similar authors is a bit wayward. I cherish the occasion I ordered a copy of Jo Beverley’s St Raven and Amazon recommended I also buy “Crows and Jays of the World.”
My keeper shelf has some treasures that are so old they are falling to pieces: Daphne Du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub and Robert Neill’s Mist over Pendle to name but a few. These books are special, as much for the memories we associate with them – when we first read them, what was happening in our lives at the time and so on. It’s difficult to find other, more recent, authors who match. Occasionally though a new treasure comes along to take it’s place beside the old books on the keeper shelf. Perhaps the author’s voice has echoes of an old favourite or their writing reminds us of a long-ago treasure. Below the Wenches give an insight into their thoughts on treasures old and new.
Topping my old book treasures list is always Mary Stewart–her books, for me, are still fresh and beautiful,her voice unique and incomparable. I still learn from reading her books. Other older, special stories and voices filling my bookshelves include Anya Seton, Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt, Rosemary Hawley Jarman, Elizabeth Peters, Ellis Peters, Dorothy Sayers and more … They dazzle among the older treasures, because each one opened up reading directions that inspired me to explore genres, subjects, writing craft. I'm still in awe of some old nonfiction treasures too, such as Antonia Fraser’s Mary, Queen of Scots, Vita Sackville-West’s Joan of Arc, and Thomas Costain’s history of the Plantagenets. I cherished and reread them all, and learned and absorbed a lot about reading as well as writing good fiction and nonfiction.