The author Margaret Forster died on Monday. I have read so many of her books and always enjoyed her engaging and clever writing. Some of her books have had a profound impact on me and as her stories often reflect on the role of women as mothers, daughters and wives, her stories are ones you can relate to at different life stages and from different perspectives. She wrote several non fiction books too including some about her family and her homes. "Precious Lives" is about the death of her father and sister and is particularly moving. I also enjoyed her biography of Daphne Du Maurier. Here is a selection from some of the 25 novels she wrote that I would particularly recommend - oh, and one non fiction book too! I hope this encourages you to either try or rediscover one of her great novels!
This is one of my most favourite books. It is told by Lily, who becomes lady's maid to the fragile and house bound Elizabeth Barrett in 1844. They develop a strong relationship and Lily becomes part of Elizabeth's secret wedding to Robert Browning then joins them in their escape to Italy. She is truly devoted to her mistress and the story shows Lily's observations and involvement in both the personal and literary lives of Elizabeth and Robert. It is a really engaging read and an interesting angle on a famous marriage.
A non fiction choice! What does it mean to be a "Good Wife"? Forster examines four different women from 1848 to present day, exploring the changing role for women in society and in marriage over the last 150 years. Interesting and thought provoking reading.
"Mother Can You Hear Me?"
Angela Bradbury has a dreadful mother. Then, as a mother herself, she realises that she may be imposing the same issues on to her daughter Sadie. A great read about mothers and daughters that I'm sure anyone who has been either will relate to, empathise with or despair against!
This is a powerful, moving story about motherhood, abandonment and guilt which casts a shadow across generations. Evie is brought up in a children's home in 1887. Shona, 70 years later, grows up in a very secure household. Both were abandoned by their mothers. Both want to find, stalk and haunt their real mother. This is an emotional story of obsession and revenge.
"Diary of an Ordinary Woman"
This is fiction but so convincing it feels real. It is a diary of a woman born in 1901 and records everyday family dramas, both wars, living in Rome in the 1920's and then London, over the course of her life. The life is ordinary but the observations and narrative make it a fascinating reflection on women's lives throughout the century.
"Keeping the World Away"
The blurb reads "Lost, found, stolen, strayed, sold, fought over... This engrossing, beautifully crafted novel follows the fictional adventures, over a hundred years, of an early 20th-century painting and the women whose lives it touches". It's a great conceit for a story! It follows several different characters and their experiences of life and art through the imagined life of a small painting. Lovely reading.
"Isa and May"
One of Forster's more recent novels this is about Isamay, named after her grandmothers Isa and May. It is about the powerful role of grandmother's within a family and the relationships across generations. Engrossing and very readable.
If you fancy seeing more of my recommendations, reviews and bookish chat, follow me on Twitter @katherinesunde3 (bibliomaniacUK)