It’s always lovely to see the leaves turn. The evolution from green to orange, the chilling of the air and the gentle watts of woodsmoke all help to put us in mind of cosy nights. The seasons give definition to the year of bookselling as it does anything else. There’s always a clear demarcation between summer reading and autumn reading. The tastes alter, the classics come out, the piles rise to coincide with the shorter days and longer nights which, if you ask me, are designed for reading.
This autumn du Maurier returns as a firm favourite. I suppose the opening passages in which we see Mary Yellan travel across the bleak, windswept moor, is the perfect accompaniment to these rather desolate evenings. The idea of arriving at Jamaica Inn certainly calls for hot chocolate and toast. The tempest of Rebecca, the rain and wind in the bay, the chilling presence of Mrs Danvers has us hiding under the duvet.
The Brontes, too, are popular though the lovelier folio or roughed-up preloved copies are favourites for the Christmas period. Something with history or atmosphere is required. Wuthering Heights has that Cornish moor mood about it of course though what’s to really enjoy is the wildness of the characters and the brutal consequences.
On the more contemporary side of things we have Susan Hill who seems designed for the gloomy nights and ghostly festive mood of October. Her Woman in Black was designed just for the modern drawing room and celebrates the Victorian ghost story with gusto. But her detective series really cements her ability to turn her hand to anything atmospheric. Simon Serrailler is up there with the best. I also loved her Mrs de Winter, her response, and sequel, to Rebecca. She’s a very clever writer.
Happy Autumn 🍂