Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This is my all-time favorite book, to be read at least once a year. I could really relate to Jane. Now if the people casting movies could just find a Rochester that matches the way I imagine him!
I love Jane Austen. Her sly, understated British humor is hilarious. Even though she wrote over 200 years ago, her characters are still recognizable and true-to-life now. All her novels are good, but this is my favorite. Lizzie is a great romantic heroine. She’s smart, funny and self-assured, but honest enough with herself to recognize when she messes up.
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip
Patricia McKillip is one of the big influences on my writing. The way she uses words and the pictures she paints with them are enchanting. In this book, Sybel is one wizard-woman whose bad side you don’t want to get on.
Ursula K. LeGuin’s books are great, especially her books of Earthsea. She writes such compelling, deeply textured characters, even an unfamiliar world full of magic seems rich and real. I was especially caught by Irioth’s journey from darkness to light in “On the High Marsh” in Tales from Earthsea.
Counterpart by Lara LaVonne Jordan
This book, written by a good friend, follows the journey of a woman torn from her life and dumped into a terrible alternate universe, where she’s still married to her abusive ex-husband and the love of her life is far beyond her reach. To regain her true husband and their child, she has to confront the consequences of her values and choices, putting her life on the line in the process.
Robin McKinley is as much of a sucker for the Beauty and the Beast story as I am. She’s certainly done some enthralling retellings, each a little different. Beauty and Sunshine are told with a touch of humor, while Rose Daughter is shimmering and lyrical.
The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee
Tanith Lee is another writer whose imagery and use of the language make her stories sing. The Silver Metal Lover is a really fascinating book. It’s actually science fiction, but it’s written like a fantasy. No matter how many times I read it, I cry at the end. Silver isn’t human, but he remains the perfect man.
I wonder if England has a richer storytelling tradition than we do here in the U.S. There certainly are an awful lot of exceptional British writers. This is my favorite Neil Gaiman book. It’s lighter than many of his others. In fact, Anansi Boys had me laughing out loud a lot of the time. Poor Fat Charlie. When he invites his brother, Spider, into his life, everything gets turned upside down.
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
This is a great urban fantasy. Humor, great characters, a vivid sense of place…oh, and fey. Don’t forget the fey. Eddi McCandry certainly can’t, since they come and hijack her life. I’m sad that Emma Bull mostly seemed to disappear after this book.