Life Changing Books by Allison Symes

 Hi, I thought for my first post here I’d share some of my life changing books. They all show the power of stories!

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Tey’s Inspector Grant is confined to a hospital bed after  a nasty fall (and it was set some time ago! They’d have him on his feet and out now!). Grant is renowned amongst his colleagues for having an eye for criminal faces and he is brought a picture of someone he discovers is Richard III. 

The only thing Grant knows is what everyone thinks - Richard killed The Princes in the Tower to take the throne. Grant decides, with the help of a research assistant going to the British Library for him, to investigate.

Whatever your views on Richard III, this is a great detective story. (Colin Dexter uses the same  premise when his Inspector Morse is confined to hospital - see The Wench Is Dead). 

The book made me change my views on Richard III. It is renowned for being the catalyst for many joining the Richard III Society.  

It is probably still Tey’s best known work.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey is renowned for changing people's minds about Richard III. Image from Pixabay.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

This is the book to demonstrate irony is wonderful in story telling! Elizabeth Bennett is well ahead of her time as a heroine knowing her own mind. I love everything about this and read it at home when I was 13 at about the same time as I was studying it in English Literature at school. Did I mind reading the book twice? Oh no! The characters gripped me and I regularly re-read this. 

It is a wonderful go-to book for a comfort read. I watched the BBC’s Big Read programme in the early 2000s. This novel was championed by Meera Syal who rightly described this as the blueprint for great romantic comedy. 

Stourhead was famously used for the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice featuring Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. Pixabay image.

Winchester Cathedral where Jane Austen is buried. They have held exhibitions about her in the past. Pixabay image.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
This wonderful trilogy showed me what fantasy writing could do and be. It is for me the ultimate good -v- evil story.  The film adaptations by Peter Jackson brought Tolkien’s world to life. What is great here is the fact some of my family would never read the huge paperback of this. They were gripped by the films though. Still got the story into them!

The breadth and scope of The Lord of the Rings makes it one of my favourite books. Pixabay image.

Being tiny myself means I quite fancy living in a cosy hobbit home surrounded by lots of books. What's not to like? Pixabay image.

Almost anything by P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett

Difficult to name anything specific (though I could choose The Code of the Woosters by Wodehouse and Going Postal by Pratchett. The latter starts with the hero being hanged! It is a fabulous story with the most likeable heroic rogue I’ve come across). 

What these gentlemen have done is shown humorous fiction is a fantastic art form and make it look easy. 

If there is one thing I’ve learned as a writer, it is that anyone who makes writing look easy has been putting in a hell of a lot of work over many years to reach that point.

What would you choose as your life changing books?

Terry Pratchett's magnificent Discworld. Image from Pixabay.


Quite uncannily,apart from the PG Wodehouse, your selection includes some of my favourite ever books! I've had a little debate with myself just now about whether I would prefer 'Hitchhiker's Guide' to 'Going Postal' if it came to the crunch, but I couldn't make up my mind.
I would add 'When will there be good news?' by Kate Atkinson, which helped me as a writer by clarifying a way of using different points of view, and 'The News from Waterloo' by Brian Cathcart, which made me realise I had lots more to learn about history, and to look forward to that.
Allison Symes said…
The lovely thing with posts like these, Cecilia, is you end up with more books to put on your TBR list! Two more now added to mine...
Ruth Leigh said…
What great choices, Allison! Totally agree with you on Pride and Prejudice, The Daughter of Time and Wooster. I have ploughed through Lord of the Rings several times and it's great, but too heavy for me. Pratchett I have never been able to get into. I must try again. Personal favourites of mine would be Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey, Excellent Women by Barbara Pym, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, the Rosie Trilogy by Graeme Simsion and anything by Helen Dunmore.
Allison Symes said…
Thanks, Ruth. Do try Terry Pratchett again. Really is worth it. Has a sublime turn of phrase.
Peter Leyland said…
That's a really interesting post Allison. I love the Josephine Tey book and when I read The Wench is Dead I marvelled that Dexter uses the same technique for Morse to solve the case. There are many crossovers between crime writers and their books.

I suppose I would say Catch 22 by Joseph Heller as when I was a young man it showed me the absurdity of war. Now, coincidentally, I am reading War and Peace for the first time and things didn't change much between 1812 and 1945. Same old, as they say.

But, mustn't be gloomy. i have six Jeeves books, beloved companions, and I was given Down with Skool for Xmas!

Thanks for the post. Made me think.
Allison Symes said…
You're welcome, Peter. And you can't go wrong with Jeeves!
Susan Price said…
Completely agree with the choice of Wodehouse and Pratchett. I happen to be reading 'Aunts Aren't Gentlemen' at the moment.As a teenager, I read and re-read my Dad's copy of 'Mulliner Nights' and we used to quote Wodehouse at each other. 'Aunt calling to aunt like mastodons across the primeval swamp' and (about a medieval baron) 'he stuck their severed heads, in somewhat garish taste, along his battlements.'

I shared Pratchett with my Dad too, and with one of my brothers. Pratchett is so funny, you're often surprised by his wisdom and understanding. When Dad was alive, we wouldn hold lengthy, indecisive discussions on who was our favourite character: the Librarian? Captain Vimes? Granny Weatherwax? Angua... Love those books.
Reb MacRath said…
Interesting choices, Allison. I doubt that anything can induce me to read Jane Austen. But I plan to order a copy of the Tey book this weekend. Already I'm sorry I've waited so long!
Allison Symes said…
I must admit, Susan, it is hard to choose a favourite Wodehouse quote or a Pratchett character. Love the aunts quote. I also like the one about Aunt Dahlia being able to make a living calling the cattle across the Sands of Dee! Wonderful imagery and so funny. My favourite Pratchett character is a tie between Vimes and Moist Von Lipwig. I would have loved there to have been more stories involving the latter but alas not to be!
Allison Symes said…
Hope you find Daughter of Time as fascinating as I do, Reb. Happy reading! It would not surprise me if you look at Richard III in a new light as a result.
Wendy H. Jones said…
A fellow PG Woodehouse fan here. O love his books
Allison Symes said…
I started with the Jeeves stories for Wodehouse, Wendy, then moved on to Blandings. Bliss!
Another lifelong Lord of the Rings fan here!!! Terry Pratchett's not too bad, either...

Lovely post, Allison, and I like the sound of the Richard III one too (not read it yet).
Allison Symes said…
Many thanks, Katherine. You are in for a treat with The Daughter of Time. Love the way the history is crossed with a detective novel. And when I want a comfort read which will always make me laugh, I go to Wodehouse and Pratchett. They never fail there.
I love this! The Richard III book sounds great, I love learning about history without too much effort, haha. My book is Anne of Green Gables, because, as a primary school teacher, it taught me that it's fine to use long sentences and beautiful descriptions. I love John Buchanan books, like Greenmantel, just his way of describing characters...
Eden Baylee said…
Hi Allison, sorry to be late! Just catching up on blogs this weekend.

Great recommendations, and I've been meaning to pick up something by Terry Pratchett - humour is in short supply these days, especially as I sit at home awaiting vaccines (like much of the world).

I'll look up GOING POSTAL.

I'm not one for fantasy, and tend toward suspense/mysteries. I really loved Carlos Ruiz Zafón's THE SHADOW OF THE WIND.

Enjoy the upcoming week,

Allison Symes said…
Many thanks, Maressa. I must check the Buchanan books out at some point. And yes, The Daughter of Time is an easy read but it is so absorbing.
Allison Symes said…
Many thanks, Eden. You're not alone in having blog catch ups! Great reading to look forward to doing that, mind you. Going Postal is huge fun and the nice thing with the Discworld books is that the fantasy element is easily absorbed. The storylines are compelling and you forget you're in a fantasy world. Now that's a sign of fantastic storytelling...

Hope you find you get hooked to Pratchett as I did.

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