Sunday 13 October 2019

Guilty Pleasures by Sheena Wilkinson

I’m doing something I feel ashamed of, and I know I’m not alone. I try not to, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. You might be doing it too. There’s a lot of it about. My friends admit, in whispers, that they’ve been doing it too. 

Who wouldn't like to frolicking here with the Abbey Girls? 

What is this terrible habit?

Switching off the news. Turning over to Classic FM instead. Preferring to hear classical music rather than yet more horrifying current affairs. 

I am not proud of this, and the heroines of the books I read – and write – would be as ashamed of me as I am of myself. And I don't  do it every day. But sometimes you do what you can to get through the days with as much sanity as you muster.

The Austrian location of the Chalet School

The reading equivalent of this is the comfort read. Am I the only reader who’s found herself turning away from Hard Reads? I suspect not. I’ve seldom gone a day without reading since I was five, and I’ve always been a re-reader, but lately I have found myself turning time and again to Old Friends, especially old childhood friends. 

Here are my top three Comfort Reads – not necessarily my favourite children’s books, but books which I can dive into as if they’re a hot bubble bath.  I’d love to hear what other people’s are. 

The Chalet School series (Elinor M Brent-Dyer)

A glorious soap opera, sweeping from the twenties to the sixties and taking in several European locations. The Chalet School shines like a good deed in a naughty world. Like many long series, it deteriorates markedly in quality from about halfway through but by then you are so sucked in that you don’t care.

The Abbey series (Elsie Oxenham)

Folk dancing, abbey ruins and a strong sense of noblesse oblige. I long to frolic in the beechwoods with the Abbey girls in my handwoven frock, and to be adopted into their golden world. 

The Jill books (Ruby Ferguson)

Ideal for a comfort read because nothing bad ever happens – ponies don’t die as they do in other pony books, including my own. And Jill is hilarious. When I’ve had enough of folk-dancing in the beechwoods and eating featherbeds of whipped cream in the Chalet School, a gallop over Neshbury Common with Jill is just the ticket. 

Guilty pleasures, maybe, but I could be doing so much worse. What are other people's comfort reads in these times? 


Susan Price said...

In times of trouble, I always turn to Pratchett's disc world. A turn round the streets of Ank-Morpork with Commander Vimes, Angua and Carrot sets me right. Or a trip to Lancre, to meet Granny Weatherwax and Nanny.

madwippitt said...

Jill is always good, so is Pratchett ... Land of Green Ginger, The Little Grey Men books, Nicholas Stuart Grey's books, Don Camillo, My Family and other Animals, Jennings ... I have so much comfort reading! :-D

Enid Richemont said...

Oh don't we just need Granny Weatherwax right now? Just finished dipping into Isaac Asimov's "In The Beginning", gently unpicking Genesis - fascinating and knowledgeable. Spare me school stories, though, except Harry Potter of course.

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Emma DW said...

I'm definitely another Chalet School fan - particularly for a comfort read; to that I'd add the Jodi Taylor St. Mary's series - they're aimed at adults, so there are some adult aspects / scary bits, but it's nothing to excessive; finally, another children's series - the Arthur Ransome books.
Like others above, I could get to way more than 3 series - but i'll stick to the 3 for now.