'Is there a story that takes you back, that has a permanent place in your heart? One you would wish to pass on to the next generation, and would yourself happily read again now?'
That is the question now being asked by Virago books, and I had no idea I even wanted an armchair trip to India until a divine new hardback series arrived with six books under the heading of A Coming of Age Collection.
'Each has been selected for its striking description of a time, a place, and of a young woman on the cusp of adulthood...'
Included in this first batch Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue, Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehman, My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin, Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Walters, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. But it was going to have to be an exceptional book that could claim my attention after so much diversion in recent weeks, and the one that lifted me so unexpectedly (and perhaps in that way only a book can) from the midst of London 2012 right into the heart of India, sixth in the series, The River by Rumer Godden. Once opened impossible to close and more about it soon.
It is some years since I have read anything by Rumer Godden but I knew in an instant I had found an author I wanted to catch up with again through this autumn and coming winter. I love being able to choose a writer and then really get stuck in and share the reading here ...last year Elizabeth Taylor, and still in progress A.S.Byatt and Elizabeth Bowen, down the years Virginia Woolf, Daphne du Maurier, Janet Frame, Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, Margaret Atwood, Barbara Pym, Irene Nemirovksy, Penelope Fitzgerald to name a few. I have Iris Murdoch in my sights for 2013 but meanwhile plenty of Rumer Godden to come, and so it was then off to the shelves to do a quick inventory.
Bit of a patchy collection, I seem to have several duplicates and some glaring omissions, having felt sure I had a copy of When Kingfishers Catch Fire somewhere. It may yet turn up (it has now) but the good news is that Virago will be publishing many acclaimed novels by Rumer Godden in the months to come, a new and very worthy addition to the Virago Modern Classics list.
I know I have read In This House of Brede and The Black Narcissus, so those will be re-reads, but I'll put money on some of you having Rumer Godden favourites to recommend so please fire away.
And what about the question I started with... is there a story by any author that takes you back??
I have had a hankering to re-read National Velvet by Enid Bagnold of late, since finding the copy my brother gave me for one of those early teens birthdays...