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?
5 responses to “The Lesser Known Works of the Better Known Writers”
I have some other books of L.M. Montgomery than Anne of Green Gables (all the books I could find in french – not much) but I haven’t read any yet. I’m scared to open them – what if it’s not half as good as her Green Gables series ?
I never know what to read, cause that means I have to choose between all the books I still haven’t read and it’s heart-breaking. My very own Sophie’s Choice.
Hum less known work… If I say “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens I know you’re going to think it’s not exactly less-known… But honestly, I had to look everywhere to find this book, and I couldn’t even find it new. I did read “Invitation to a Beheading” by Nabokov before I read “Lolita”, but I don’t know if it’s less known in english…
It’s curious how a book can be popular some place and not the other. I mean, both places know the author, but for some reason one of his books never made it to both places. I hope I’m making sense. Sometimes I wish I could write my comments in french, and somehow it would get perfectly translated^^
You can tell me some of the titles of the L.M. Montgomery books, and if I’ve read them I’ll tell you if I liked them or not. 🙂
I know what you mean about reading – I have only a small amount of time for leisure reading while I’m in school, so it’s hard to choose what to read!
It’s interesting that “A Tale of Two Cities” is harder to find in French (I mean to read that book someday too). I’ve never heard of “Invitation to a Beheading” by Nabokov, so it’s probably not well known in English either.
And yes, your last paragraph does make sense.
Well there’s “Magic for Marigold” ; “A Tangled Web” ; “Akin to Anne” ; “Kilmeny of the Orchard” ; “The Story Girl” ; “The Golden Road” and “Among the Shadows”. I actually really like the cover of “Kilmeny of the Orchard” I’m not sure why but I do (if you’re curious : http://www.amazon.fr/Kilmeny-Vieux-Verger-Lucy-Montgomery/dp/2890375773).
“Invitation to a Beheading” is a book I actually heard about in another book (I love when a book leads me to another one!). It was called “Reading Lolita in Tehran”. The author, Azar Nafisi, tells the true story about how she clandestinely introduced books that were banned by the Ayatollah Khomeini to a group of very different women. She makes them read Lolita, obviously, Gatsby but also Jane Austen and, I think, Henry James. And when she gets to Nabokov, she talks a lot about “Invitation to a Beheading” which seemed really interesting so I bought it. If you ever get a chance to, you should really read Azar Nafisi’s book, It’s actually three different books in one : it’s the story of this group of women (who are very different and don’t share the same views on things), it’s the story of Iran and the Islamic Republic from the inside, and well it’s the story of those books and their authors.
I should really stop giving you book titles if you already don’t have time to read but I really can’t help it. Après le plaisir de posséder des livres, il n’en est guère de plus doux que d’en parler. It’s a Charles Nodier quote, it means that after the pleasure of owning books, there is no greater pleasure than to talk about them. Sounds better in french, I promise =)
Let’s see… I enjoyed “A Tangled Web” most of those you mention. It’s a bunch of interlocking different stories, but it’s neat. Though speaking of racist attitudes of older authors, there’s a comment near the end that’s a bit unfortunate. I also really loved “The Story Girl” and “The Golden Road” when I was younger, but I haven’t read them for a long time. The cover of “Kilmeny of the Orchard” does look cool! I’ve read that one and I think I liked it, but I don’t remember it too much. I haven’t read “Akin to Anne” and “Among the Shadows” so I can’t tell you much about them, but I think they’re short story collections.
I’m planning to write down a nice list of book titles, and then work through them all someday.
Love the quote. That’s part of why I have a blog – to enjoy books twice, both through reading and talking about them. And then coming up with ways to write my own stories.
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