Tag Archives: Alistair MacLean

Book Love

book pile2“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”

-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Brian Jacques. Jane Austen. J.R.R. Tolkein. Roald Dahl. C.S. Lewis. Alistair MacLean. Louis L’Amour. Rainbow Rowell.

That’s my short list of authors who gave me that jolt of pure, unadulterated joy that obliterates the rest of the world, makes you feel you’ve found a spiritual/mental soulmate, and makes you want to track them down and knock down their door or call them up and have long conversations about everything and nothing and find out their opinion about the world and politics in that one corner of the world and how they like their tea.

5 Favorite Gothic Authors

RebeccaBook

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1. Daphne du Maurier. Of course I must start off with the queen herself, the original. Daphne du Maurier is the author of Rebecca, a 20th-century classic and the possessor of one of the more famous opening lines in literary history. Rebecca is a spooky, gothic romance, but mostly it’s just darn addicting – the story will grab you as if you’re a 10-year-old reading Redwall or an Alistair MacLean novel for the first time, and rush you along its irresistible current. If you like Jane Eyre or its lesser-known cousin, Villette, this will be exactly up your alley.

The narrator is never given a name, but she’s a young bride to Maxim de Winter, the charismatic but slightly mysterious owner of a Cornish estate. He’s a forceful personality ala Rochester, proposing by saying “I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.” When the narrator moves in, however, she finds a home haunted by the memory of his first wife, Rebecca, who was killed in a sailing accident. Du Maurier herself always said she didn’t mean this book to be a romance, but I’ve always read and loved it as such: it’s about two people who overcome darkness to stay together. It’s heady and giddy and gripping and rather lovely. It’s never been out of print and is the standard-bearer for Gothic romance.

The opening lines resonate. “Last night I dreamt I went to at Manderley again…”

2. Mary Stewart. I went through a period in high school where I was obsessed with Stewart books – they’re such a deft, gripping blend of complex characters, suspense, and romance. She was one of the most widely read fiction writers of the 20th century, and passed away recently in May of 2014. A British novelist, she wrote both romantic suspense and historical novels and was respected for both. By far and away my favorite of her books, and a good introduction, is Nine Coaches Waiting, which yes, I admit, bears some resemblance to Jane Eyre as well (can I help it that all these Gothic romance writers are tripping on the same thing?).

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