Fall. My favorite season. Sweater weather. One naturally wants to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea, or perhaps something stronger, occasionally gazing out the window at autumnal glory between chapters. I have over 2000 “good” books on my Kindle, hundreds of them unread. It is unlikely I will get to them all before I am buried (in my sweater) in the stacks of the Great Library in the Sky. Nevertheless, I am incapable of passing up a BookBub sale or an Amazon promotion. 99 cents? $1.99? Even better, FREE? How can one say no? My fingers itch to one-click in my sleep.
Despite this embarrassment of literary riches (and significant investment—shh, don’t tell my husband), lately I have been sticking to glomming the Golden Age’s Patricia Wentworth. Cozy. Warm. Safe. Not precisely formulaic, but familiar. I have mentioned her here before, and came across her quite by Amazonian accident. One of her Miss Silver books—I forget which one—was free, and that was the beginning of my love affair.
Thirteen years older than Agatha Christie, Patricia Wentworth (real name Dora Amy Elles Dillon Turnbull) was born in India in 1877, and died in England in 1961. Her 32 Miss Silver Mysteries feature an elderly governess-turned-private-investigator who knits with ferocity, quotes pertinent poetry and scripture, and divines people’s peccadilloes with ease. She has been compared to Miss Marple, but I don’t see it. These charming books were joined by 34 others, including standalones and three additional series. If my math is correct, that adds up to 66 novels, which should keep me occupied right through the winter.
The stories span an enviable writing career of fifty years, from 1910 to 1961. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve finished. So far, I only buy the books when they are on sale. Some of them can be pricey, and it remains to be seen if I’ll fork over big money when I run out of the cheap titles.
By now, I recognize some similarities of plot and character. Wentworth echoes herself on occasion, but I don’t mind a bit. That’s part of the comfort of reading her. I know I’m in for a delicious ride, if someone doesn’t tamper with the brakes, which has happened in at least two books so far.
For more on Patricia Wentworth: Patricia Wentworth: An Introduction and Mystery Series Guide (earlybirdbooks.com) Do you have a “tried and true” author you turn to when you want to de-stress? Do you enjoy the classic “between the wars” books, or do you find them too dated…and uncomfortable?
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