Of course what Susan Hill does on such a vacation is to read. She's brought books from home, but also is interested in the books that other renters have left-behind. I love that idea of leaving books you are done with, and picking up some that others have left. It's like those little free libraries that have sprouted up in the US (and other places?).
If you were hoping for a list of authors, as I was, she doesn't disappoint.
They fascinate me, those holiday reads, and I have studied a good many in my time. Indeed, I have compiled a list of the authors whose books - always in paperback - are most often found in rented properties, both at home and in France. I start going through them as soon as I have unpacked and I rarely score fewer than five.
The list does change every few years.
This year the bookcases have contained, in no particular order: Joanna Trollope, Dan Brown, Jenny Colgan, Stephen King, Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Hislop, Ian McEwan, Val McDermid, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Jojo Moyes. And Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Captain Corelli's Mandolin has not been found for a while.
Several authors dropped off the bottom a couple years ago - Catherine Cookson, Dean Koontz, Gerald Durrell, Peter Mayle. John le Carré comes and goes.
This year there are a few surprises. Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy is here. So are books by Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, Elizabeth Bowen, Patricia Highsmith, Jeanette Winterson - and Jane Austen, Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Hemingway and Raymond Carver. An upmarket bookcase then.Would you be tickled to find such authors in your rental house?
Susan Hill goes on to discuss Olivia Manning in quite some detail, which pleased me because last year I bought both The Balkan Trilogy and The Levant Trilogy. Of course, I haven't read them yet, but they wait patiently on my shelf.
I am struck in this month's passage, as I am every month, at what a reader Susan Hill is. Writing of the two trilogies, she says
This summer's re-reading must be my fourth, and each time the books yield something new, perhaps because as I grow older I understand more.FOUR re-readings!!
You know how in late spring the buzz is always about what the upcoming "summer reads" will be? I've never quite understood because my reading doesn't change with the seasons. And I don't go to the beach. If I did, I'd be swimming or walking, not reading.
... beach reads. I was slightly mortified when a friend on holiday in Turkey reported seeing three people reading one of my crime novels on a beach - I have never taken them too seriously, but for a split second I thought, 'I didn't realise they were as bad as that.'What a delight this woman is to me. She is scholarly, interesting, informative, witty, and funny. Reading this book is a bit like taking a course from her, and I am loving it.