Today I’m thrilled to be welcoming Annabelle Thorpe, author of The People We Were Before to Cosy Books to talk about the people who inspired her love of books
Over to you Annabelle ….
This could only ever be a post about my Mum. She loved books. One of my earliest memories is sitting under the blankets in my small bedroom, the light glowing on the bedside table, reading Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner; both small, battered hardbacks, one red, one green, that she had owned as a child. I learnt to read on Winnie the Pooh. Mum said it had everything; taught the values of friendship, of love, of loyalty. It even dealt with the pain of separation, although I didn’t understand that at the time.
Like most things, my Mum had strong opinions on books. Those who hadn’t read Winnie the Pooh or The Wind in the Willows, had – according to her – clearly had a deprived childhood. Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass were two more of her favourites, although I could never really get on with either. She bristled with annoyance at Enid Blyton books not being considered suitable for school reading, and I devoured Malory Towers, St Claires and the Five Go…books. I also adored the Chalet School stories; a set of books about very posh girls, in a very posh school in Switzerland. Perhaps it appealed to an early love of travel (I later became a travel writer).
She loved poetry too; introducing me to T S Eliot’s Old Possums Book of Cats at an early age, and trying to get me to love Keats and Byron when I studied them for A level English. Betjeman was one of her favourites. But poetry and I never really got on
I remember my parents house being full of books; shelves filled with a diverse mix of classics and
contemporary fiction. Mum loved a spy novel; SS-GB being on the television at the moment has reminded me of the Len Deighton novels that were often beside her bed. My mid-to-late teens were filled with diverse worlds, from wartime Berlin to 19th century New York. The Moonstone by WIlkie Collins was another of our joint favourites, along with anything by Henry James. Mum bought me up to believe that being well-read was important, that books mattered.
Even now, many years after I lost her, I only have to hear a quote from Winnie the Pooh, or catch a glimpse of the Wind in the Willows on TV, to remember how much she loved those books, and the joy reading them with her gave me. In this way, I think books are like music; they can transport us back to the time we first read them, or to people we shared them with. One of my greatest sorrows is that she never got to read mine. I hope she would have enjoyed them.