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Source: (consider it) Thread: Literary comfort food
Trudy Scrumptious

BBE Shieldmaiden
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For me (and I know I'm not the only one) it's Lord Peter Wimsey. When I need a guaranteed read that I know I will like and will leave me in a good mood I either read through all Sayers' Wimsey mysteries (if time permits) or, if I've got less time, just the four with Harriet in them. I never tire of them and they never fail to please.

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Books and things.

I lied. There are no things. Just books.

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Ariel
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Brenda - not unkind, just unwise, as we don't encourage people to advertise on the boards. If you want to put a link in your sig which people have the option to click on if interested, that's one thing, but please, no overt "my books are available to buy" posts in main threads.

Thank you,

Ariel
Heaven Host.

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Brenda Clough
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Sorry, it was before my first cup of coffee this morning.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
For me (and I know I'm not the only one) it's Lord Peter Wimsey.

I agree about Lord Peter. I also feel the same way about almost all of Josephine Tey's mysteries and the Brother Cadfael mysteries.

Moo

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venbede
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There’s a difference between comfort reading and easy reading. And I find that when I have serious reason for anxiety, easy reading can be depressing. It doesn’t engage me and it makes me realise how depressed I could be. If I need to turn pages, some good reference book, Pevsner, Oxford Companion to English Literature or the like is something far preferable.

Early last year I was due for a very scary operation and I was emotionally very vulnerable. I took up Les Miserables after abandoning it and then went on to read Dostoyevsky’s The Devils and The Idiot. Obviously not comfort reading, but it gave me a sense of achievement and energy when I needed them.


PS I also read Dorothy Sayers.

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Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

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Welease Woderwick

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quote:
Originally posted by Doone:
Go for it WW [Two face]

It is done AND Amazon.in have a special special offer on at the moment and I got it for UKP17!!

[Yipee]

Happy WW.

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I give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
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Doone
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Enjoy! [Yipee]
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venbede
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Four years ago I went into hospital as an emergency. Rushing out with excruciating stomach pains, I just remembered to grab a toothbrush, rosary and Salley Vicker's Miss Garnett's Angel.

Now that was comfort, both being easy enough to read and bring great comfort in a time of distress.

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Man was made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know,
Thro' the world we safely go.

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Doone
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quote:
Originally posted by venbede:
Four years ago I went into hospital as an emergency. Rushing out with excruciating stomach pains, I just remembered to grab a toothbrush, rosary and Salley Vicker's Miss Garnett's Angel.

Now that was comfort, both being easy enough to read and bring great comfort in a time of distress.

Ah, I'd forgotten her. I have a couple of her novels somewhere, I must look them out. [Smile]
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Tubbs

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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
For me (and I know I'm not the only one) it's Lord Peter Wimsey.

I agree about Lord Peter. I also feel the same way about almost all of Josephine Tey's mysteries and the Brother Cadfael mysteries.

Moo

Certain types of crime novels are very comforting for some bizarre reason. The procedurals I avoid, but old school detective stories are marvellous.

Tubbs

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am

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Pigwidgeon

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quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:
Certain types of crime novels are very comforting for some bizarre reason. The procedurals I avoid, but old school detective stories are marvellous.

Tubbs

What I've heard (and it makes sense to me) is that when you read a crime novel, you know that it's all going to work out by the last page -- unlike real life. (There are a few authors who are exceptions to this.)

Also, your mind is involved in trying to work out a fictional mystery, so it's less bothered by real-life dilemmas. This is especially helpful if reading before going to bed.

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"...that is generally a matter for Pigwidgeon, several other consenting adults, a bottle of cheap Gin and the odd giraffe."

~Tortuf

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BroJames
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So many to agree with that it would turn my post into a massive list. I would add Parson Woodforde's Diaries - the one-volume Oxford World's Classics edition, and Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street novels
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lily pad
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I keep Joanne Harris' book, "Chocolat", in a little bag packed in case of a visit to the hospital. I love it as literary comfort food and was delighted to find that there are several other books in the series.

I also have thoroughly enjoyed reading Patrick Taylor's stories of being a doctor in an Irish village. They are a lot like the James Herriot books but, well, for people not animals. [Smile]

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Egeria
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I'm often apt to reach for a mystery as literary comfort food. The story often has a limited time frame (unlike biographical novels, which can ramble on for decades) and a plot (unlike "literary" fiction about alcoholism and adultery [Projectile] ). Justice is done, order is restored.

I have just been rereading two of my favorite authors: Lindsey Davis (first century Roman Empire) and Steven Havill (contemporary police procedurals set in small-town New Mexico). I remember the solutions, but the characters are delightful and the settings are vivid. Recommended for anyone needing to unwind or dealing with health problems!

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"Sound bodies lined / with a sound mind / do here pursue with might / grace, honor, praise, delight."--Rabelais

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Palimpsest
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Blanche on the lam by Barbara Neely is one of a great series about a detective who is a Negro maid.

The Mary Renault books about Classical Greece. The Judge Dee series by Van Gulik.

I just read the final Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett "The Shephards Crown" and while it has its comforts there's an almost autobiographical section that brought tears to my eyes.

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Welease Woderwick

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quote:
Originally posted by BroJames:
...and Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street novels

Oh yes, definitely, I've just recently received The Revolving Door of Life and am saving it for when I finish the Potter series, so I'll probably start on it tomorrow or Saturday. I have read most of the The No 1 Detective Agency series and some of Isabel Dalhousie series but somehow the Scotland Street series hits just the right tone. I know it's not great literature but it is light and fun and engaging and it is certainly well-written - and we all know someone like the Unbearable Mother of Poor Bertie!

If I ever have to go into hospital I shall be taking my Tablet and just enjoy my little store of favourites on there.

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M.
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I like the Robert Goddard thrillers. I can get completely lost in them, and when I'm beginning to think, 'ah, so that's it!', I find I'm only half way through.

Like a lot of books, though, even Wodehouse, I have to read them sparingly,as they can get a bit samey.

Oh, I'd forgotten the Amelia Peabody books. I think they might seem a bit dated now, I haven't read them for a while, although at one time they were a go-to comfort read.

M.

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Sparrow
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quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:


The Mary Renault books about Classical Greece.

Oh yes. My copies of "The King Must Die" and "The Persian Boy" are the two I would rescue from my burning house.

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For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life,nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Lothlorien
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I guess I must not have brought them when I moved out. They certainly are not here. I was thinking about them recently and wondering if I would but them again. It is getting on for ten years since I left my husband and who knows what he would have done with them. Certainly he would not have read them.

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Moo

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quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:
quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
quote:
Originally posted by Trudy Scrumptious:
For me (and I know I'm not the only one) it's Lord Peter Wimsey.

I agree about Lord Peter. I also feel the same way about almost all of Josephine Tey's mysteries and the Brother Cadfael mysteries.

Moo

Certain types of crime novels are very comforting for some bizarre reason. The procedurals I avoid, but old school detective stories are marvellous.
OTOH, P. D. James's books have a disquieting effect on me.

Moo

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Kerygmania host
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See you later, alligator.

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ArachnidinElmet
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For comfort I will usually re-read. It's not the plot, so much as spending time with familiar and favourite characters (and sometimes favourite writing), so it's usually series rather than one-off books, and good fan fiction (Buffy the Vampire Slayer for preference). Even if the situations are upsetting I don't mind so much, so long as I'm forewarned.

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'If a pleasant, straight-forward life is not possible, then one must try to wriggle through by subtle manoeuvres' - Kafka

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Albertus
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Hornblower. John Buchan. Sometimes (some of) Graham Greene, or Trollope, or Barbara Pym, or various people's diaries (Harold Nicolson, Cecil Beaton, even Evelyn Waugh). Depends very much on what kind of mood I'm in.
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Egeria
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I've just started rereading Lucie Duff Gordon's Letters from Egypt --a good choice for a blustery day and health problems. Not that the letters don't describe some truly distressing situations; the author was in Egypt during the time that tens of thousands of men were being forced away from their families and livelihoods to labor on the Suez Canal. But Lucie is a charming companion and so are her Egyptian friends. If anyone knows of similar publications, I'd be glad to hear about them.

And speaking of Egypt [Cool] , I'd also like to mention Leo Tregenza's Egyptian Years and The Red Sea Mountains of Egypt . The author was a classically educated scholar who taught school in Egypt and explored the Eastern Desert with local guides in his free time. He was interested in looking for Graeco-Roman ruins, of course, but also had a keen eye for landscapes and wildlife. These are books that I always think of as reading for the winter break, but I may not wait that long this year.

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"Sound bodies lined / with a sound mind / do here pursue with might / grace, honor, praise, delight."--Rabelais

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Golden Key
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Egeria--

If you don't mind *fiction* about Egypt, I strongly recommend Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series.

Amelia is a Victorian lady archaeologist. Very strong-willed, she is both of and ahead of her times. She can be a pain in the derriere; but, deep down, she cares about people. There are something like 20 books, featuring history, mystery, romance, family, and wit. One good thing about a long series of books is that there's plenty of time for character development. [Smile]

The author is an Egyptologist, writing under a pen name. So she can give the characters the understanding of Egyptian archaeology that they would've had then. Plus she adds in real-life characters, like Howard Carter (who found King Tut's tomb).

IIRC, the first one is "The Crocodile On The Sandbank". Later, I especially recommend "The Last Camel Died At Noon"; but you need to read the preceding books to really get it.

The books are so popular that some libraries keep them under lock and key, because some fans won't wait to get to the top of the hold list!

Happy reading! [Yipee]

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Jante
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Like many my comfort reads are childhood favourites - I have the complete set of Chalet School books by Elinor Brent Dyer on my shelves and reread regularly, also the Abbey school series by EJ Oxenham. For an adult version- the Rebecca Shaw Village series are a must
[Smile]

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My blog http://vicarfactorycalling.blogspot.com/

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betjemaniac
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quote:
Originally posted by Albertus:
Hornblower. John Buchan. Sometimes (some of) Graham Greene, or Trollope, or Barbara Pym, or various people's diaries (Harold Nicolson, Cecil Beaton, even Evelyn Waugh). Depends very much on what kind of mood I'm in.

I'd go along with this list in its entirety (although I think I probably wouldn't caveat Graham Greene).

Currently reading the new edition of Patrick Leigh Fermor's letters, which fit right in with your list.

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And is it true? For if it is....

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Albertus
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oh yes. Only saw the parody in this week's Eye. The small caveat for Greene is that there are one or two things- e.g. The End of the Affair or Brighton Rock- which I wouldn't normally (not necessarily 'ever') turn to as comfort food!
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Egeria
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Golden Key said:
quote:
If you don't mind *fiction* about Egypt, I strongly recommend Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series.

I've read all, or almost all of these. I'm not sure I made it through The Last Camel Died at Noon , and it took two tries to finish The Hippopotamus Pool . Elizabeth Peters' work is comfort reading, especially when I'm feeling particularly nostalgic about Egypt and in need of some relaxation. But wow did she have a heavy hand with the melodrama; this comes through in most of her books and is even apparent in her two books of popular non-fiction (for example, she apparently never questioned the historical fiction known as the "Thutmosid feud"). I believe the melodrama is partly based on her own reading of trashy fiction as a student--there are clues in her Jacqueline Kirby books, and the repeated scene in which a character is drugged or knocked out and awakens in a room with exotic furniture, silk hangings, silver tea service, blah blah blah is one of her favorites. I wonder if it was inspired by The Lustful Turk . (Yes, that is a real book--amazing what you can learn by working in a library.) And The Hippopotamus Pool had that ridiculous pseudo-historical reconstruction
***** SPOILER ALERT *****
in which a real historical figure is supposed to have been wrapped like a mummy and buried alive. Was that inspired by the Boris Karloff film, or a suggestion by one of those unqualified pseudos who hang around the fringes of Egyptology pretending that they are real Egyptologists?
(End of spoiler alert)

As for Amelia, I always wanted to ask the author whether she started out with the intention of making Amelia quite so irritating, insecure, and silly. (Ms. Peters was sitting at the next table one year at a conference event, but I figured she was probably getting pestered with questions like that all the time, so I refrained from bothering her.) Amelia is supposed to be smart, but she often comes off as merely bossy and conventional--one of the most annoying characters in all of series fiction. I like a lot of the other characters, though: Emerson, "the Father of Curses" and his explosions of justifiable wrath against stupid tourists (anyone who's had experience of tour groups in Egypt will know exactly what I mean!); David and Ramesses and Nefret; and the recurring Egyptian characters, Abdullah and his family.

My favorite in the series is Seeing a Large Cat . It's a stand-alone story, not one of the "Master Criminal" sagas, most of the action takes place in Luxor [Cool] and the Valley of Kings, and it features a delightfully young and earnest Howard Carter. The setting is wonderful--that's one of biggest attractions of the series.

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"Sound bodies lined / with a sound mind / do here pursue with might / grace, honor, praise, delight."--Rabelais

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Curiosity killed ...

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I am glad I am not the only person who doesn't find Amelia Peabody unalloyed joy. Jacqueline Kirby is pretty annoying too, and feels to be tongue-in-cheek deliberately so. I think the reader is supposed to be in on the joke that Amelia is not as she sees herself, but is really a busybody getting involved in things better left alone.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
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I am pretty sure the buried-alive-mummy trope turns up in Rider Haggard

I read the first Peabody book and felt no wish to read another.

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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
I am glad I am not the only person who doesn't find Amelia Peabody unalloyed joy. Jacqueline Kirby is pretty annoying too, and feels to be tongue-in-cheek deliberately so. I think the reader is supposed to be in on the joke that Amelia is not as she sees herself, but is really a busybody getting involved in things better left alone.

I read the first four books as they were a Kindle special deal. I quite enjoyed them, but not enough to buy the others full price. I agree with you, the fact that Amelia isn't as she sees herself but is an insufferable, interfering whatmit is part of the joke. It wore thin rather quickly.

Daisy Dalrymple and the Mary Russell books are a bit similar. I gave up on those a few books in as well.

The Elizabeth Edmondson Very English Mysteries are much better. But sadly only two and a short story.

Tubbs

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am

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Firenze

Ordinary decent pagan
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Thanks to the joy of Kindle I find there are a lot of Patricia Wentworth books prior to her Miss Silver ones. The one I've just finished was a spanking read and quite engrossing. It did have the odd feature that a character who was set up as the principal hero/love interest simply disappears from the narrative halfway through.
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Ariel
Host
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Just finished Neil Gaiman's "Fragile Things", a collection of his short stories. Some are very good, others are quite gruesome. I skipped a few. This isn't a book I'd buy for myself, nor one I'd want to keep and read again. It does however have one story that's clearly the origin of "The Graveyard Book" in it.

Having said I wouldn't want to keep it, I've just had to buy a replacement copy as somehow it's managed to acquire a large splodge of coffee on the back cover without my realizing, and I have to give it back to someone next week, so I now have a spare copy whether I want one or not.

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Penny S
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You could use it for Book sculpture
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andras
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Robertson Davies for sure! And Plum and almost anything by Trollope as well (The Way We Live Now is brilliant, but too angry for comfort food).

What about I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith, a truly fabulous read?

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God's on holiday.
(Why borrow a cat?)
Adrian Plass

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Brenda Clough
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In times of trouble, Heyer. I think I might have to start with Sprig Muslin , an old fave.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer

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Doone
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# 18470

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Oh yes! I must look mine out [Smile]
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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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It is a mystery to me why the BBC has not put all those Heyer Regencies out in miniseries. There are enough of them to run for twenty years, and they'd rake in a fortune.

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Alwyn
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# 4380

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Like others, I find stories of childhood/coming of age comforting, especially when spiced with adventure (Swallows and Amazons), magic (Narnia) or sarcasm (Calvin & Hobbes) or all three (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

Stories about people who tend to think their way through problems can be nicely calming - such as Hornblower, the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and many of Isaac Asimov's stories (I'm thinking of Donovan and Powell's tales as well as those with Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw.)

Sometimes, stories with a strong emotional impact are comforting, like Anne McCaffrey's Pern series, with people defying the limits which society or family members try to impose on them. At other times, a big, immersive world can be a reassuring distraction, such as Robert Silverberg's Majipoor or Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
# 440

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
It is a mystery to me why the BBC has not put all those Heyer Regencies out in miniseries. There are enough of them to run for twenty years, and they'd rake in a fortune.

They've done a few radio adaptions, but although the TV rights have been sold, no one seems to have done anything with them since the 1950's. It would make a nice change from the endless Austin's. (Not that I don't love Austin, but does the world really need another P&P adaption?!)

Tubbs

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Posts: 12384 | From: Someplace strange | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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It would be so simple. They already (clearly) have masses of high-waisted muslin gowns and doeskin breeches in costuming. Tons of historical manors exist, for sets. The scripts would be easy, the books are so linear. A ready-made audience. An endless run of four or six episode miniseries, one a year and then take the summer off -- it's like printing your own money.

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Penny S
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# 14768

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One of our Freeview channels is showing regular Catherine Cookson adaptations, some with quite known actors, and they look pretty authentic. Not that I watch them - I have too much other stuff stacked up. I never saw them first time round, or knew they existed. But if there is a market for them, I can't see that there wouldn't be a large intersection between the Cookson audience and a Heyer audience.
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Huia
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# 3473

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After the 7.8.earthquake on Monday morning I had to take back all my library books unread and am instead re-reading things that meet Oscar Wilde's criteria where, " The good end well and the bad end badly". I cannot bear anything with either violence or suspense.

When I go back to the library I will look for some recorded books because I've found that having someone read to me is immensely comforting. If I can find a version of Wind in the Willows read by someone with an English accent ( because, in my mind it is so quintessentially English) that would be heaven. I know the bloke who played Gandalf was actually a Scot, but he would be good as he has one of the most comforting voices I can think of).

Iain Carmichael reading Pooh Bear would be another possibility.

Huia - rapidly approaching second childhood

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Posts: 9335 | From: Te Wai Pounamu | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Penny S
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# 14768

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You might look for Alan Bennett as a reader.

I do hope things settle down soon.

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Lothlorien
Ship's Grandma
# 4927

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Possibly a bit long in the tooth these days, but Sir John Mill's readings of The Hums of Pooh was superb. He died in 2005 and my sons' childhood was some years before that.

I heard someone else do it and it was horrid, so I understand your comment about the accents.

Similarly, we had a BBC video of some of Wind in the Willows. Complete with a choreographed version of the dabbling ducks, up tails all.

None of the dismal Disney treatment at all.

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Posts: 8457 | From: girt by sea | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged
Gill H

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# 68

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quote:
Originally posted by Penny S:
You might look for Alan Bennett as a reader.

I do hope things settle down soon.

There is an Alan Bennett version available - I got it on iTunes (UK) a while ago. Abridged, unfortunately, but good.

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Welease Woderwick

Sister Incubus Nightmare
# 10424

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I finished a reread of The Wind in the Willows yesterday and was enchanted as ever. Great stuff.

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Stercus Tauri
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# 16668

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Years and years ago I knew a psychotherapist in Scotland - a wise and lovely Swedish lady. Her prescription for a calmer life was to read Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books, and specifically The Exploits of Moominpappa. They are timeless and the suspense never exceeds a level that I can deal with. I still read them. I wonder if they are still popular?

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Nicolemr
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# 28

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As I said on another thread i am currently rereading Loois McMaster Bujold's books set in the world of the Five Gods. That's three novels and three novellas. Why I find them particularly comforting I do not know, but they have been.

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Posts: 11350 | From: New York City "The City Carries On" | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Huia
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# 3473

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Stercus Tauri - I had forgotten the Moomin books. Re-reading them helped me so much when the earthquake damage in my house was being fixed in 2011. A friend has also suggested a book and I found it in the local library today. I'll post the title when I finish it so no one inadvertently posts spoilers. [Razz]

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Charity gives food from the table, Justice gives a place at the table.

Posts: 9335 | From: Te Wai Pounamu | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged



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