Welcome to Triple Choice Tuesday. This is where I ask some of my favourite bloggers, writers and readers to share the names of three books that mean a lot to them. The idea is that it might raise the profile of certain books and introduce you to new titles, new authors and new bloggers.
Today’s guest is Marie from Girl Vs Bookshelf.
Marie is a doctor who has lived in Manchester her entire life.
She tries to read widely but is particularly drawn to crime fiction, psychological thrillers and dystopias.
“I started blogging a year ago under the misguided impression that it would encourage me to read more and work my way through my mountain of books more quickly,” she says. “I didn’t take into account all those I’d accumulate through recommendations from others!”
When she is not reading or working, Marie likes going to lots of gigs and watching 1950s and 60s sci-fi B-movies.
Without further ado, here are Marie’s Triple Choice Tuesday selections:
Frederick is a reclusive, working-class butterfly collector who has just won a packet on the football pools. He spends his winnings on renovating the cellar of his isolated country house and abducts the young, beautiful Miranda, keeping her captive there.
Plot-wise, there is not an awful lot more to this book than that. There are only two characters. Almost the entire novel takes place within the confines of Frederick’s house. Yet despite its apparent simplicity, this is one of the most powerful and memorable books I have ever read. Its subject matter means that it is in no way a comfortable read, but it is written so wonderfully that I couldn’t help but love it.
The story is told alternately from the points of view of both the captor and the captive. While this is not necessarily a ground-breaking narrative device in itself, Fowles uses it to masterfully trick the reader and toy with your emotions, turning all your expectations upside down. There were times when I didn’t know what to think. Surely I shouldn’t be feeling sympathetic towards Frederick? Miranda is going through hell, so why am I finding her self-absorbed and insufferable?
In addition, the novel provides a lot of food for thought on the subject of class, and the relative values of wealth versus upbringing. It made me think about art and faith and taste. It is incredibly dark but seriously gripping, and written in such accessible language that I recommend it to everyone. I can still remember exactly how it made me feel when I turned the last page.
As a child I was a voracious reader, visiting the library on a daily basis and ploughing through series such as The Babysitter’s Club and Goosebumps at a rate of knots. I remember that one summer when I was maybe 12 years old I went on a long camping holiday with my family. There’s no way I would have been able to pack enough books to last me for the whole trip — and of course these were the days before e-readers — so after only a short time I was bemoaning my lack of reading material to anyone who would listen. My Dad’s friend had packed a stash of Christie novels and suggested I give this one a try.
I loved it, and can still remember how happy I was to discover that there were so many other novels by this Christie lady waiting for me to enjoy. It was the first ‘grown-up’ book I remember reading, opening my eyes to a whole new world of books and laying the foundations for my love of mysteries and crime fiction. And as time has passed, Christie has become my ideal comfort reading at times when books are scarce or when I can’t decide what I want to read. For example, when I was studying in France and struggling to find something that was decently written but with easy enough language for me to understand, her books were the perfect go-to choice. It’s very rare that I’m not in the mood to read her work.
This is a true dystopian classic and probably already has a very wide audience in bookish circles. But I think it deserves a wider audience because of its influence. 1984 and Brave New World are required reading for many high school students around the world, and Big Brother is now a household name, but how many people are familiar with Zamyatin’s name? He drew on his own experiences of living through the Russian Revolution to create the futuristic totalitarianism of The One State.
First published in 1921, it was highly controversial and well ahead of its time. It is said that Orwell began writing 1984 just a few months after he finished reading We, and he was apparently quite open about how strongly it had influenced him. Think of the hundreds of dystopian Young Adult novels that are now being published faster than I can count them — this book deserves recognition as the granddaddy of them all. It is truly original and a really enjoyable read.
Thank you, Marie, for taking part in my Triple Choice Tuesday!
These are all such interesting choices. I love The Collector, too, having read it about 20 years ago now. I remember it being very, very creepy. And as a teenager I read lots of Agatha Christie (and loved all the movies) but haven’t read her for a long time — perhaps I should give her a whirl again. And thanks for highlighting We, a book I’ve not read, nor heard of, but I am such a fan of 1984 (and Orwell in general), so I really must hunt this one out.
What do you think of Marie’s choices? Have you read any of these books?