This seems a rather pompous title! – but I’m not sure what else to call it. I was thinking about all the books I read when I was younger, and realising how much some of them had influenced me. Of course I read Georgette Heyer – but before that, I soaked up the Scarlet Pimpernel stories, and other popular historical writers of the earlier 20thc, like Rafael Sabatini and Jeffrey Farnol.
Because I was one of those children who would read ANYTHING. I used to go to church jumble sales, or charity shops, and buy any book that looked old. As long as it was hardback, I’d add it to the teetering pile I held in my arms, and hand over most of my pocket money in exchange.
Most of these books were far too old for me. Not in terms of the romance, or the characters, but because sometimes they were my first introduction to a historical period. And sometimes (I blush to admit) I didn’t realise they were historical novels. I genuinely thought ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ and all the other stories in that series were contemporary reportage, and was very confused when I found one (‘Pimpernel and Rosemary’) which was set in the 20th century.
At least I can feel I wasn’t the only person to be so influenced, since Lauren Willig has written a whole series inspired by Baroness Orczy, starting with ‘The Secret History of the Pink Carnation’, which are well worth reading. And Cafepress.com once offered a t-shirt which declared ‘Brainless Fop’; I really want one of those!
So, what did you read when you were younger? If you truly loved it, I expect you read it more than once (guilty!). Perhaps you’ve even spent the last ten years in a fruitless search for another copy? I’d love to hear…