Thursday, December 8, 2011

Books of a Lifetime by Amanda Grange

I’ve always been an avid reader and I’ve always read widely across almost every genre, but the books I love the most are the ones with a lot of humour in them. As a child, some of my favourites were Paddington, Winnie the Pooh and 101 Dalmatians. I used to get most of my books from the local library, but even then I loved books as objects as well as sources of entertainment, and I often used to ask for hardback editions of my favourites for Christmas and birthdays. These represented the height of luxury for me and I loved curling up with them, revelling in the illustrations and laughing at, and with, all my favourite characters.

As I moved into my teens, I found plenty more books to make me laugh. As soon as I discovered P G Wodehouse I was hooked. I absolutely adore Jeeves and Wooster, and I think it’s a tribute to their genius that they translate so well to the screen and the radio. No matter who plays them, they always work, though my favourites are probably those with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Other favourites were Three Men In A Boat, The Diary of a Nobody and the Mapp and Lucia books by E F Benson. They’ve all stood the test of time and it’s because they are so well observed. The authors understand the foibles of human nature, which are surprisingly unchanging over the years - and even the centuries. We still worry about many of the same things, and laugh at our worries.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is another favourite. Although it has a science fiction setting, the humour is still based around real people, their faults and failings, and the absurdities of life. Douglas Adams brilliantly satirises our own age by having a Vogon space fleet about to destroy earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass. The characters are wonderful, from the eternally gloomy Marvin (“brain the size of a planet and they’ve got me parking cars” ), the hyper Zaphod and the permanently harassed Arthur Dent, who just wants to go back to the now-demolished Earth and have a nice cup of tea.

I also discovered Georgette Heyer in my teens and I was in raptures when I realised she’d written so many books, because I used to read two or three books, at least, a week. Some of the titles, like The Black Moth, promised adventure, whilst others such as Sprig Muslin promised clothes, promenades and balls. But all of them promised – and delivered – books which frequently made me smile and often made me laugh out loud.

But my favourite of all time was, and is, Pride and Prejudice. It has everything. Humour? Tick. Romance? Tick. Memorable characters? Tick. It manages to effortlessly outclass every other book, and each time I read it I find something new to enjoy. Small wonder that I’ve spent the last eight years of my life writing retellings of Austen’s major novels from the heroes’ points of view! My latest, which completes the series, is Henry Tilney’s Diary. Henry is one of Jane Austen’s wittiest characters and I loved inventing a childhood for him, with his irascible father, downtrodden mother, rakish brother and utterly delightful sister. And of course I loved seeing the events of Northanger Abbey through his eyes.

I still love books that make me laugh, from Evelyn Waugh to Terry Pratchett. So if you can think of any I might have missed, please let me know!


Amanda Grange is the author of Henry Tilney’s Diary and many other historical and regency novels. She lives in England. Visit her website at


  1. Fantastic guest post! I'm a fan of both Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer for the same reasons you mentioned.
    I read Mr Darcy, Vampyre by Miss Grange and enjoyed it very much :)

  2. I enjoyed reading about some of your personal favorites.

    If you like historical wit try Tim Queeney's "George in London" on Kindle. Queeney is editor of Ocean Navigator Magazine. I thoroughly enjoyed his e-book and reviewed it on Amazon.

  3. What a great post! I love all the books you mentioned, though I particulary like the Mapp and Lucia books. However, it's been years since I've read them. It's probably about time for a reread. By the way, I think the cover for your book is gorgeous!

  4. This is the first time I've seen/heard anyone mention Three Men In A Boat and it was such a delight to see it here! It is one of my favorite books and I have such fond memories of it. Thank you for a wonderful guest post!

  5. Henry Tilney's Diary sounds SOOOO good! I saw it at a local bookstore recently and almost bought it if I hadn't been there buying Xmas gifts LOL. Henry was one of my fav Austen characters because he is so witty!! Can't wait to read this one :)