Irony aside, it's a start.
There's an enormous stack of books I want to tell everyone to read, right away. Surprising stories. Amazing writing. With a four-book limit, there's a bit of constraint on this impulse.
The theme this time: a crazy little thing called -- well, you know.
"My name, in those days, was Susan Trinder. People called me Sue. I know the year I was born in, but for many years I did not know the date and took my birthday at Christmas."
Goodreads link HERE.
Endless Love starts:
"When I was seventeen and in full obedience to my heart's most urgent commands, I stepped far from the pathway of normal life and in a moment's time ruined everything I loved -- I loved so deeply, and when the love was interrupted, when the incorporeal body of love shrank back in terror and my own body was locked away, it was hard for others to believe that a life so new could suffer so irrevocably."
Goodreads link HERE
Persuasion opens with:
"Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations arising from domestic affairs changed naturally into pity and contempt."
Goodreads link HERE
Abel's Island begins this way:
"Early in August 1907, the first year of their marriage, Abel and Amanda went to picnic in the woods some distance from the town where they lived. The sky was overcast, but Abel didn't think it would be so inconsiderate as to rain when he and his lovely wife were in the mood for an outing."
Goodreads link HERE
Persuasion is my favorite of the Austen novels.
In the interest of honesty, I have to say that this cover
<---MIGHT have colored my first reading of the story, back in junior high.
Who knew it was a classic?
Still, I stand by my affection for this novel, even over Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. Why? Well perhaps because, unlike so many "romantic" stories, there is a pretty strong possibility that the two lovers will NOT get together. Plus, the emotional connection makes sense: they are attracted not just because of a pair of fine eyes or a lovely face, but because of their history, how they act under pressure, and what they hope to become.
In Fingersmith, the love story sneaks up on a reader. This brick-thick book, set in the 1850s in England, begins with a nod to Oliver Twist and then piles on the suspense and complications of a dastardly plot to steal a family fortune. Betrayal, twists of identity, and the fate of two orphan girls in this milieu that denies the most basic of rights to female people -- this is the best of suspense. Conventional expectations about love and happy endings get a good cage-rattling (or at least mine did) when the story comes to its conclusion.
Endless Love, on the other hand, explores that most traditional of romances: first love of boy meeting girl and losing her. Complete with all the sexual frankness and over-the-top emotionality that makes our teen years a joy to behold (...from the safety of an artillery bunker). Though it was made into a rather dreadful movie with a baby Brooke Shields, the book is feverish, compelling, beautiful, and sad. Hemingway said it: "When two people love each other, there can be no happy ending."
At 120 pages, Abel's Island is a miniature masterpiece about survival and finding meaning in the wild world. A gently bred young mouse is whisked away from his beloved by a big storm, and spends a year alone, trying to escape his predicament. With eloquent illustrations by the author, of New Yorker cartooning fame.
* In this case, the "They" who rhyme lizard with gizzard is a character in a book by Madeleine L'Engle. Not her most famous book, A Wrinkle in Time, but from a novel about the very square Austin family, A Ring of Endless Light. Because there are always more books...