Jane of Beyond Eden Rock tagged me, and I was honored to think that she would be interested in my answers! Here we go…
What is your favorite historical setting for a book?
This question makes me think of the settings I would actually like to live in — I may enjoy reading about late Imperial Rome or Revolutionary France, but they would be a bit dangerous to inhabit.
One type of setting I love is a wonderful old house that’s been lived in for many generations, and gathered much history and character. The Green Knowe books by Lucy Boston provide one example (and this is even a real house that you can visit – see Jean’s recent tour here).
Another is a nostalgic trip back to a warm family setting, as in the Deep Valley books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I know the past wasn’t really this simple, but it’s nice to enter those rosy memories for a while anyway.
What writer/s would you like to travel back in time to meet?
I would love to meet Louisa May Alcott and talk about how women’s lives have changed since her time. I’d also warn her not to take the calomel that ruined her health.
What book/s would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?
What book/s would you travel forward in time and give to your older self?
As I age, I want to keep reminding myself of the important messages in Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.
Ursula K. LeGuin’s vision of peaceful interplanetary colonization and interaction in her so-called “Hainish” books.
What is your favorite book that is set in a different time period (can be historical or futuristic)?
It’s impossible to choose just one favorite — so many of my favorite books are set in different time periods! But I’m going to give a nod to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, largely because I think she does a brilliant job at capturing the Regency period (with a magical slant). There are so many books nowadays with this setting, and very few are truly convincing.
Spoiler time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book just to see what happens?
Yes, I do, and I feel no shame about it. Sometimes the tension is too much for me and I just have to know the outcome; then I can go back and see how we got there. Spoilers don’t bother me, obviously. But everyone is different — if you don’t want to know the ending ahead of time, I certainly respect that.
If you had a time turner, where would you go and what would you do?
There are many places I’d like to have a peek — Hilda’s monastery in Whitby, the theater of Dionysus in Athens, a Regency ball… I think I’d soon be glad to get back to modern sanitation, medicine, and women’s rights, though. (Even though it’s tempting right now to find a nice corner of the past to go hide in.)
Favorite book (if you have one) that includes time travel or takes place in different time periods?
The Story of the Amulet by E. Nesbit made a strong impression on me as a child. Nesbit’s depiction of different times and places (from ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Britain to more fanciful visions of Atlantis and the London of the future) might not stand up to modern scholarship, but it was rich with detail and woven into an exciting quest narrative. It’s where my love of historical fiction began.
What book/series do you wish you could go back in time and read again for the first time?
Funnily enough, I don’t have the feeling that I wish I could read books again for the first time. I often enjoy reading them for the second, third, or twentieth time just as much, though it’s a different experience. I only wish I had more time to do that!
I’m tagging Wendy of Falconer’s Library because she says nobody ever tags her, and I hope she might like this one. Otherwise, please feel free to take it up if you’d like to, and be sure to let me know if you do.