Monday, 18 January 2010

Books You Outgrow...


I've found that often the biggest measurement of how your writing style has changed is how your reading tastes have changed. For instance, whilst I love and am indebted to Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse - the book that inspired JK Rowling with all those great Hogwarts feasts - I come back to it now and cringe at parts I used to love. The prosy speeches! The cringy preachiness! The very fifties 'children's book' feel it has. But once upon a time it was the sort of stuff I wanted to write.
Like Anya Seton's Katherine. My gran introduced me to this, when I was about ten on a holiday in the Lake District, and at the time I thought it was controversial stuff - it was a romance! But I loved the language at the time, and the fact that Anya Seton took time to minutely describe every gown and wimple in the book. And the banquets. It was like a fairytale with the extra thrill that this was all real, and based on history. Not to mention the slightly (very slight, now I come back to it) risque bits that probably weren't suitable for a ten-year old at all. The smouldering blonde Duke of Lancaster meets the fiery red-headed Katherine! They have a long and salacious affair that sets the medieval world on fire with outrage! At last he marries her!
Yeah. Coming back to it now... it's almost sa,d becuase when I last read it, it seemed like the best book in the world. Has it morphed into a cheap Mills and Boon novel when I wasn't looking? No. But I think I might have grown up a little since I last thrilled to red-haired maidens and icy blue-eyed lords. Besides which, I might have outgrown Katherine, but reading some parts (gowns, banquets, maidens), in some ways I'm still very much indebted to it. Mirrum might not be about to indulge in two chapters of saucy wedding-night detail (at least I hope not on the page ,anyway) but in some ways the gowns and banquets have probably lingered on longer than they should have done...

1 comment:

Mercury Gray said...

Believe it or not, I had a similar experience last summer when I re-read the Chronicles of Narnia. Man, those books are awesome when you're nine -- not so awesome when you're nineteen. Now that I've grown up I enjoy more description, a more fully realized world. Not that that's kept me from following the Voyage of the Dawn Treader production blog...