My reading habits seem to ebb and flow with the state of the news. The worse the latter, the less reading. So you can guess how much reading got done in 2022 and 2021 despite my best intentions.
Part of the problem might also be that great books can often intimidate a writer. (But also inspire, fortunately).
For example, nothing can seemingly compare to the world building in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s science fiction. His Children of Time series features civilisations of such creativity and plausibility that I read open-mouthed like a bemused goldfish.
Lona Manning’s use of Austenesque language in her Mansfield Park variations (A Contrary Wind, A Marriage of Attachment, and A Different Kind of Woman) leaves me similarly astonished. Such craft.
Then there’s Terry Pratchett, who occupies my No.1 spot just above a certain lady from regency England.
And my writer pal, Rose Servitova, who has completed Jane Austen’s unfinished The Watsons and Sanditon with remarkable finesse.
Rose just released her Sanditon completion and I was lucky enough to read a prepublication copy. As I wrote in my Goodread’s review:
The wonderful A Season at Sanditon has romance, humour, social commentary, a satisfying ending, and a cast of characters whose personalities we are forced to reevaluate as the novel progresses. A truly Austenesque outcome, then, that honours the spirit of Austen’s fragment and Austen’s legacy.
Spending time in Rose’s Sanditon offers a joyous and immersive escape into the lives of Charlotte Heywood, the Parker family, Lady Denham and others (including a refreshingly entertaining clergyman). It also offers a reminder of one of life’s truisms, especially for someone brought up in the UK. One character notes:
There is no situation that is not made better with tea.
After emigrating to Austria, I eventually switched to coffee (a requirement of taking up citizenship) but now find myself drifting back in the form of…ahem…nettle or camomile tea.
Is this some strange compromise between civilisations and cultures, being neither “proper” tea nor coffee? My younger self would simply shake his head sadly.
Anyway, despite the ongoing tussle of beverage loyalties, life certainly feels better when my skittish nature allows reading time. As Jane Austen wrote:
The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.