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Books for South England Villages Tour

We're gearing up for the Villages of South England tour next spring. I'm already rereading Jane Austen, and will dig out Dickens next. What other books do you recommend? I read two of Dan Jones's books before our London trip this last spring: the Plantagenets and Wars of the Roses. Any other ideas for history? And we've seen "Becket," although not lately. Oh, I guess I should reread "Murder in the Cathedral." Okay, what else? Any suggestions welcome!

Posted by
1212 posts

The Forest , and Sarum. Both by Edward Rutherford. He writes historical novels in the manner of Michner....connecting different families in different continuing time frames in history. The Forest is the history of Southern England from ancient times to Modern times. Sarum is the History of Stonehenge to Modern Salisbury. Both are easy and enjoyable reads.

Posted by
908 posts

Anything by Thomas Hardy (Dorset); Daphne DuMaurier (e.g., Jamaica Inn); Winston Graham's Poldark books; you can watch TV series "Broadchurch"; Martha Grimes' Rainbow's End was set around Salisbury; Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles; Poirot "The Clocks" (2009) -- believe it features the Dover tunnels.

The itinerary looks fantastic! Have a great time!

Posted by
1958 posts

Gosh, thanks for the recommendations. I'm going on that tour a year from now. That should give me plenty of time to read up on that part of England :)

Posted by
715 posts

You might like John Guy's biography of Thomas Becket. It's amazing how much archival information that still exists about Becket when he lived so long ago.

I have also enjoyed Peter Ackroyd's histories. There are several of them. I like them almost as much as books by Dan Jones (who has a new book out about the Magna Carta, which is not yet available in the states, and I'm kicking myself for not buying it in England in the summer where it was easy to pick up. Oh well)

Posted by
6370 posts

I agree about Phillippa Gregory's books, I just finished one of her latest "The King's Curse" about Margaret Pole the Countess of Salisbury and her relationship with the Tudors especially Henry VIII and his daughter Mary. It's a wonderful read as are all of her Tudor period books but this is one of my favorites so far.

Posted by
103 posts

Before my trip to Devon, I found "The West of England" by Ruth Manning-Sanders in a used book shop, and it was very informative. It is a guide book published in 1949, so some details are outdated, but it has many wonderful black and white photographs and lots of interesting detail. It covers Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and the Scilly Islands.

Posted by
4737 posts

Wow! I love this website. Thanks for all the great suggestions. Some of the authors mentioned I have read in the past - Ackroyd, Conan Doyle, Bryson, Agatha Christie of course - but it helps to be reminded of them. A few I've tried and had given up on - Wolfe Hall, for example, but what a great list! I guess I'd better head for the library this week. I only have 8 months left. Thanks again to all.

Posted by
6179 posts

I think Anthony Trollope is far, far superior to Dickens. You can get his complete works for a couple bucks for an e-reader. "The Way We Live Now" if you have to pick one.

Posted by
4737 posts

OK, Emma, I'll see if the library has the DVD. And Stan, thanks for the suggestion. I read Trollope years ago, and need to check him out again.

Posted by
908 posts

I think part of Trollope's He Knew He Was Right was set in Exeter. Includes one of the most exasperating characters ever (Louis Trevelyan) but enjoyed watching the 2004 series. And Matthew Goode is in it!