Those of us who read, and who are influenced by books, tend to squirrel away our memories of all the stories we have read over the years.
And yet, there is always that one special book tucked away in the far corner of your mind which reminds you just why you love reading so much…
During July and August I've invited a few friends to share their First Remembered Read..
I'm thrilled to welcome to Jaffareadstoo
The Passionate Brood by Margaret Campbell Barnes
As a young reader, in that difficult transition between child and adult - no YA in those days - I picked up a book in my local library called The Passionate Brood. It was the cover that took my eye: two knight jousting with all the colour of heraldry, of banners and pavilions and ladies watching their knights fight for the glory of victory in the tournament. I doubt it was very accurate but the image appealed. I also remember my mother looking askance at the title - we were far more innocent in those distant days - but the book came home with me.
It is a Plantagenet story of the family of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, particularly of King Richard I, packed with all the romantic elements of high chivalry. It is also unashamedly romantic in bringing Berengaria onto the scene, as well as the character of Robin Hood. And I loved it. The elegant style and marvellous detail brought these characters to life, even though they lived more than six hundred years ago. They were real and engaged my emotions, living with me in all their passion, their loyalties and betrayals, as I devoured the book. Their conversations drew me in to their joys and their sorrows. I wept with Berengaria when King Richard met his death at the end.
At that time it did not matter to me that there was no evidence for the romance, or for these particular origins of Robin Hood. The world that The Passionate Brood opened for me was simply magical. It has never lost its fascination.
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
I have no doubt at all that this book ignited my love of hiding away in the past, and I quickly graduated to Goudge’s historical fiction for adults – a full collection of which I was thrilled to find on my mother’s bookshelves. My mother died when I was ten, and having this shared love of a particular novelist means a great deal to me.
I re-read “The Little White Horse” every year, and also at times of stress as I find it reliably calming and reassuring. I made the mistake of recommending it to a book club, and they tore it to shreds, pointing out the clumsy religious imagery which had gone – indeed, still goes – right over my head. I learnt from this and have avoided both the “Moonacre” television series and the film “The Secret of Moonacre”, which are based on the novel, in case things are not as I have always pictured them in my imagination. I once saw a very handsome hardcover edition in a bookshop, but nothing would tempt me away from my much-sellotaped, worm-eaten little paperback.
Huge thanks to Anne and Susan for sharing the memories
of their First Historical Read with me today.
Next week : My First Horror Novel