Or, Wait–She Wrote That?
Sometimes an author is so good you want to read everything they wrote–so you go out and read every single thing on their list of publications. You know, like when you finish Lord of the Rings and go out and find The Silmarillion (somewhat of an interesting surprise for people!) Sometimes you find more gems, and sometimes you find out why only one book of theirs is famous. Here’s a couple of interesting lesser known works:
L.M Montgomery – Blue Castle
I had to blog about a Canadian author at some point because–well, I am Canadian. And I am a fan of L.M Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables being her best known work). She actually wrote at least twenty-one different novels, so there’s lots of her work to choose from. But Blue Castle is one of her few works of adult fiction. It wasn’t actually that successful during her life, since if you read it it’s more of a fairytale than your typical “adult fiction,” as well as being based on the conventional plot of “what happens when a shy, picked-on girl finds out she has terminal heart disease?” All the same, I absolutely enjoyed it. I find some of L.M Montgomery’s work somewhat uneven–I can’t get into Emily of New Moon or Pat of Silver Bush–but despite any faults of Blue Castle, I found myself cheering for Valancy Stirling and hoping things worked out somehow in the end.
Jane Austen – Lady Susan
Most of Jane Austen’s work is pretty well known. The problem is she only wrote six novels, so you get through them pretty fast. Well, imagine how happy I was to find she’d completed this novella, Lady Susan, as well! It’s written in “epistolary novel” form, which means the story is told through the characters writing letters to each other. And it’s highly amusing! Lady Susan is an unscrupulous woman who sinks her claws into the very man who swore he’d never be caught by her … and then what happens? My only disappointment with this novella was how abrupt the ending was. I felt Austen could’ve gone on longer and made it a full novel, instead of quickly tacking a conclusion on the events. But for the extra bit of Austen enjoyment I got out of it, it’s worth it. (Plus, it’s actually finished, which is more than can be said for The Watsons and Sandition).
UPDATE: Lady Susan was made into a movie in 2016, starring Kate Beckinsale! It’s retitled ‘Love and Friendship’ and I absolutely loved it. I think it really catches the spirit of the novella.
So… don’t know what to read? (How can you not, after I gave you that nice chart of fantasy novels last week? But maybe fantasy’s not your thing.) Find an author you really enjoyed, and see what else they wrote. Or read one of the above–I enjoyed them. What other lesser known works have you read that you’d recommend?