Pining for the West

Favourite Books | November 18, 2009

I’ve nearly finished reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins which I am enjoying. I had been thinking of doing a blog post about favourite books as I often find that people have one particular book which they go back to time and time again at times of stress or just to cheer themselves up. Sort of comfort blanket books. By coincidence the character of Mr. Betteredge in the The Moonstone has a comfort book and his is Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.

So I thought it was about time I got around to this post.

My mother-in-law’s comfort book was Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I dread to think how many times she must have read it and for that reason it is a book which I would never read. Not even if it was the only book which I had on a desert island.

While there are books which I re-read every now and then like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and all of Jane Austen’s, I think the one which fits the bill best as my comfort read is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. True it isn’t very comforting and in parts it is positively uncomfortable but there is just something about it and it grabs you in from the very first sentence – “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

If you wanted to write a book I would say it would be a good idea to avoid doing what is basically an updated re-write of a classic, as you would think that it would be bound to be a pale shadow of the original. But du Maurier certainly managed to come up with something which is itself worthy of the description of classic.

And if you don’t feel up to reading the book the original film starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine is always a treat to watch.

So, if you have some favourite comfort reads, I would be interested to know what they are.



  1. I take it your mother in law likes a good long read then? ‘Gone with the Wind’ is a great book to immerse yourself in, though I’ve only read it once. ‘Rebecca’ is one of my favorite books, and I love the film with Sir Lawrence. I read Pride and Prejudice from time to time, then I have to watch the BBC version all over yet again….I don’t know, this addiction of mine…. can’t be helped.
    But the one that I have to read every other year or so, and which is overdue for an airing, has got to be the ‘Titus Groan’ trilogy by Mervyn Peake, – well actually it’s ‘Titus Groan’ ‘Gormanghast’ and not ‘Titus Alone'((which though I’ve read a few times, cannot get into at all)
    ‘Gormanghast’ to me is a masterpiece of writing. Peakes charactisations are magnificent, I think bordering on Dickens. ‘Gormanghast’ is a place which is different to each person and each person carries their own version of Gormanghast’ within them. To go there, is like hibernating for me because I have to read straight through, no long gaps: total immersion. Now I wouldn’t say this book was ‘comforting’, more of a blood transfusion really that is needed from time to time.

    Comment by echostains — November 18, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

    • Yes, it is a bit of a doorstop.Mother-in-law is now past tense. I read the Titus Groan trilogy, must have been about 1979. I enjoyed them but didn’t have the urge to read them again. Just as well we’re all different. I like the idea of the book blood transfusion.

      Comment by piningforthewest — November 19, 2009 @ 10:30 pm

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