During my last Books That Built Us afternoon tea for Wedgwood and Red magazine, I took copious notes so that I could publish the list of books that we had all discussed here on LLG. So, of course, when we held our second tea here at my flat, we put together another list of wonderful books to share with you.
I found the whole afternoon strangely moving: women share a lot when they talk about books, I think. So much about love and loss, and hope and expectation. Many of the books we talked about had played formative roles in making us the women we are today, and Rachel in particular held us spellbound as she talked about discovering her cultural roots through Vikram Seth’s writing. We also spoke about how good children’s literature teaches children resilience and gives them a place to explore boundaries, and both Helen & Jenny discussed how they were discovering new children’s writing through their offspring. I particularly liked Tamsin’s criteria for close friends: they needed to read Billy Liar and get it, because it was so important to her.
Helen & I have very similar taste in literature (it’s how we first met, talking about Georgette Heyer through the aegis of her blog three years or so ago), so many of our old favourites had already been discussed at the first tea. That was actually rather good, as it meant we came up with some slightly more unexpected choices this time around. Liz had recently been back at her childhood home, so had the luxury of being able to forage through her childhood books, a selection of which she brought with her. That meant we had a very wide range of subjects this time, from children’s fairytale classics to joyous gay love affairs in San Francisco, which was all to the good, frankly.
The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder by Evelyn Waugh
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Provincial Lady in London by E.M. Delafield
Tales Of The City by Armistead Maupin (Babycakes: Tales of the City Series, Vol. 4 & Sure of You: Tales of the City Series, Vol.6)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (My grandmother’s copy)
Backwards in High Heels: The Impossible Art of Being Female by Tania Kindersley & Sarah Vine
(I think BIHH should be a mandated text for ALL women.)
And some other titles that we discussed:
The Box of Delights by John Masefield
Thursday’s Child by Noël Streatfeild
The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase Sequence by Joan Aiken
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott