Today we have Anne telling us about her favourite book.
Favourite books match my mood and circumstances so any one of a large number could preside at any moment plus there are the new books and authors I have just come across mainly via Twitter.
Recently, while writing my novella, A Tale of Two Sisters, I began rereading an old friend: New Grub Street by George Gissing. Although written towards the end of the 19th century, the central theme of the integrity of the author versus the dictates of the literary marketplace is still pertinent today. Of course, New Grub Street is far more than a treatise, Gissing is fabulous at describing family feuds, sibling rivalry, love and loss, marrying for money – “I have never yet met a woman who so well fitted to aid me in my career” – and brings to life so vividly the waste of talents caused by in-fighting and arguments, and the misery of “genteel” poverty – for us today read “austerity” and debts!
Just as in Gissing’s time, authors today are often torn between making money (!) and writing the book they’d love to read. When I edited fiction for women’s magazines so many people commented that romance was “easy to write”. Absolute rubbish! If you are not sincere it will be reflected in your writing and no one will want to read you, be it romantic fiction or sci-fi, crime or “literary”.
So back to Gissing and New Grub Street – his elegant prose style, plotting and characterisation still attract me after first reading the book at university. He is great on women’s emancipation as well as women writers and his work serves as the epitomy of excellent prose, hopefully making me work harder at my own! New Grub Street also highlights the chasm between the rich and the poor that rings true today as the novel ends:
“Poverty and struggle would have made me a detestable creature,” Jasper comments to his wife… “Ha! isn’t the world a glorious place? … for rich people.”
Anne Coates is now a freelance editor and author of seven non-fiction titles and two collections of short stories. She is currently editing and rewriting a crime novel, Dancers in the Wind, with three chapters of the next book featuring the same protagonist already written. You can read more about Anne at The Writers Room http://www.thewritersroom.co.uk/page/anne-coates-a-tale-of-two-sisters and follow her on Twitter @Anne_Coates1
Thank you for taking part Anne. Yet more favourite book posts tomorrow!