This week on the Inheritance Books sofa, we have Julie Ryan. Hi Julie. Fancy a brew?
Tell us a little bit about yourself, while I sort out the tea and biscuits.
I’m a Yorkshire lass, born and bred near Barnsley now living in rural Gloucestershire with my husband, young son and two cats, Gizmo with half a tail and Smudge, a rescue cat. I love travelling and have lived and worked in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand although I didn’t realise at the time how much this would influence my writing. There is definitely something about foreign travel that opens the mind.
I love amateur dramatics and enjoy participating in our local panto where I can be found playing the Fairy Godmother or more recently Miss Maple in an Agatha Christie spoof. In much the same way as reading is a form of escapism then acting also offers the chance to put on another persona. I still have this ambition from childhood to appear as an extra in ‘Coronation Street’.
I also run our local village Post Office, a great way to connect with people (and catch up on all the local gossip). We bought a run down shop ten years ago with the idea of renovating it. It had no bathroom, no electricity upstairs and no heating. At the time I can only blame being in love for agreeing to take on such a massive project. Whilst we now have modern facilities there is still so much to do and after ten years the novelty of moving furniture from one room to the next is definitely wearing thin. My dream is to have all my books displayed in one place instead of in boxes in the cellar. Unfortunately, my husband being dyslexic doesn’t share the same dream when it comes to books.
I should also add that I am hopelessly addicted to chocolate, suffer from selective deafness and according to my husband I have no sense of direction!
Which book have you inherited from the generation above? Why is it special?
One of my all time favourite books is ‘The Magus’ by John Fowles. There is such a special quality to the writing and off course it is set in my beloved Greece. The protagonist is an English teacher and I think that perhaps subconsciously this book inspired my desire to travel. It also encapsulates the 1960s and when Nicholas becomes entrenched in the mind games of millionaire Conchis it makes the reader think about what we take for granted. It’s a journey of intrigue, plot twists and betrayal yet each time I read it I find something new in it. It captures the mystery of Greece perfectly and is a pretty good read to boot. It’s one of the few books that I can read and read again. In fact, I’ve read it so many times that my poor old battered copy fell to pieces and I had to buy another!
Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
‘Le grand Meaulnes’ by Alain Fournier was a book I read when I was studying ‘A’ level French and captivated me then as it still does. Even the title is enigmatic and ‘grand’ has been translated by ‘big’, large ‘great’ yet doesn’t quite convey the sense of the original. Set in the 1800s it describes that period between boyhood and manhood, a time that can never be reclaimed. The language varies from beautiful, moving prose of the utmost clarity to almost mystical poetry as the story becomes more surreal. It’s quite simply a beautiful story that every love-struck teenager should read.
It holds a special place in my heart as I have a beautifully illustrated copy with the most lovely watercolours that originally came from the flea market in France. This was the only book that Fournier wrote before being killed in the first World War so it is especially poignant.
Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us, Julie. All the best with the new book!