Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Celebration of Rereading

I've been schlepping books around for decades.  The one I'm rereading now, Fate is Remarkable by Betty Neels (I'm guest-reviewing it for The Uncrushable Jersey Dress; my review should be up in early April), is so old that not only was it published in 1970, but it was written back when shillings still meant something.  Even I was young in the 1960s.

At various times in my life, I've wondered if I'd ever read these books again.  The entire Betty Neels canon, for example, or all of Barbara Delinski's Harlequins, or Elizabeth Mansfield's Signet Regencies.  Everything Candace Camp wrote under every pseudonym she ever used.  All the books by Mary Jo Putney, Joan Wolf, Joan Smith, Mira Stables, Lynn Kerstan, Glenda Sanders, Laura Kinsale, LaVyrle Spencer, Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  I don't even remember many of these books; I just know I loved them when I read so much, I can't get rid of them.

But I did have doubts I'd ever reread them.  And here I am, rereading all of Betty Neels's books (although I'm still falling behind the juggernaut that is the Bettys of UJD -- two books a week is a rigorous workout), rereading Lynn Kerstan, Joan Wolf, Glenda Sanders, LaVyrle Spencer, and Mira Stables, to name a few.

You know what?  It's great.  All those books I saved because I loved them back then?  I still love them.  I can't recapture the feelings I had the first (or second, third, fourth . . .) time I read them, but I'm discovering new and exciting things even on the unpteenth reading.

I won't say anything substantive about Fate is Remarkable; I'll link to my guest-review when it's up.  But I can only attempt to describe my feeling upon reading the first few pages and meeting these characters all over again.  I'm (finally) older than the heroes in Neels's books, and now much older than the heroines.  (When I was 14, the 28-year-old Sarah seemed really grown up to me!)  Maybe they would seem TSTL to other readers, but I like them.  More importantly, I like them in a new way.  I like their dignity and composure; I could use more of that in my own life.  I like their willingness to help and make a difference in other people's lives; I would like to do more of that in my own life.  I like their relationships with colleagues and family, and with each other.  And I like their intelligence.

So hurray for rereading even very old books.  It's not like re-encountering old & familiar friends and being bored.  Rather, it's like meeting people again and appreciating things you'd previously overlooked.

4 comments:

  1. I recently read my first Lynn Kerstan, a Regency, and loved it. (LORD DRAGONER'S WIFE.)

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  2. I love one Mira Stables--I have The Byram Succession and it's one I re-read often.

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  3. Victoria: I love Lynn Kerstan's work, and recently discovered I'd missed her first Regency, A Spirited Affair. Just wonderful. I wish she was still writing (if you're listening to me, Universe...).

    Keira: Oh, there are so many wonderful Mira Stables (and she'd be a good author to switch to after Betty Neels's Canon runs out of ammunition...), but I love love love (like top ten books I re-read love) her early Victorian romance, High Garth.

    I wrote about Mira Stables books here at Monkey Bear Reviews. You should try more than one of hers; I don't think you'd be disappointed.

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  4. This makes me feel slightly better about my obsession with Emilie Loring, especially Here Comes the Sun! Uhg, that book's not even that good, why do I keep reading it....

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