Four British Authors to Know and Love

England has produced great works of literature through the ages.  Books set in the backdrop of the British Isles , or written by a English author are some of my favorites.  Whether you adore Jane Austin, or only use her to cure insomnia, there are many current English authors worth reading. These are the reads from across the pond (as they say) that I have enjoyed, ranging from immensely to thoroughly.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgramage of harold fryFrom start to finish I enjoyed the tale of Harold Fry and his Unlikely Pilgrimage.  Harold and his wife exist, but do not live; they function, but do not thrive.  It is as if a large gray cloud cover their lives with gray and shadows and they have accepted their drab life.  Unexpectedly Harold receives a letter from an old friend.   Queenie, is terminally ill in a town across the country.   He gets the letter, and begins to walk to see his old friend.  Without a  plan, and a lousy pair of shoes upon his feet, he just walks.   The strange pilgrimage shocks and frustrates his wife, but Harold begins to collect a small following to cheer him on.  Pretty soon the whole country of England begins to rally for Harold to make it to see his old friend Queenie.  Harold sets out searching to find closure with an old friend, but the journey leads him to a vastly different destination.  This is a sweet story, honest, and well written.

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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

Longbourne by Jo Baker

LongbourneLongbourne is reminiscent of Jane Austin’s story telling.  You will like it If you are looking for a book will elements similar to Pride and Prejudice.  However, it is not a retelling of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  Let Longbourne speak for itself and tell its own story.  It is classic in its theme, tension, and hierarchy between servants and higher class.  It is romantic in its story of love hoped for, but unspoken and uncertain.   As a reader you need to attentively tune into the tension and longings of the characters.  The things that go unsaid are almost as important as what is said.  Longbourne takes you into old England, carriages, foggy mornings,  stone houses, and quiet romance.  I enjoyed this book, it is not a page turner, but a story that unfolds with quiet reserve.

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Longbourn (Vintage)

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart

The tower, the zoo, and the tortoiseBalthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his wife for years, along with their 120 year old pet turtle.  He is a Beefeater at the Tower and his wife is in charge of the lost and found department at the Tower of London.  This book is whimsical and completely unique. Julia Stuart is a superb writer and has a talent for strong characterization, and weaving beautifully written language.  Part history lesson and part tale of Balthazar Jones and his wife, you will get a rich feel for London’s history and the lives of the quirky characters that inhabit the tower.  It has a wonderful setting, rich characters, and an offbeat story.  It is a quality read.

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The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill

What the Nanny SawWhat the Nanny Saw is a great summer beach read.  I listened to this on audio book, the advantage to the audio version is the fantastic British accent.  I highly recommend this book for a glance into extraordinary wealth, and the extraordinary fall that came to many during the 2008 financial crisis.  Alli is the trusted nanny who tells the story of Nick and Bryony, the couple with everything and more in central London. She cares for the children while maintaining a certain invisibility as the hired help.  However, she sees and hears more than she ever wanted to know.   The characters are charming and their lives are intriguing.  I think the author does a fine job with showing the good and bad in all the levels of social status.  The kind hearted nanny makes choices that are somewhat appalling, as do her employers.  This book is timely, engaging, and a good pick for summer.   

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What the Nanny Saw

 

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