Friday, 29 November 2013

Xmas reads

Every newspaper and magazine seems to be suggesting books you might like to give as Christmas presents, so this year I've decided to join in.

I'm not going to tell you that you ought to be buying all your friends copies of The White Rajah and Cawnpore, because, of course, you've already done that. So here are a couple of alternatives from other authors you probably won't have heard of.

I have mentioned S A Meade here before. She wrote Lord of Endersley, which I reviewed earlier in the year. Like Cawnpore, it's the story of a gay man caught up in the Indian mutiny, but the resemblance pretty well ends there. Lord of Endersley is very definitely a gay romance and will appeal principally to people who like that kind of book. This is, apparently, not only gay men but also straight women, so if you have a female friend who will enjoy an explicit story of forbidden love, this one's for her. S A Meade does also write occasional heterosexual romances (as S A Laybourn) and her latest, Christopher'sMedal, is a well told tale of a man with post-traumatic stress disorder who is redeemed by love. Like Lord of Endersley, this is a story with graphic sexual detail, so possibly not one for your maiden aunt, though the "naughty" bits are easily skipped and the rest of the story is, in its way, quite charming.

I know I'm getting hung up on explicit romance here, but I'm going to mention one more: Where My Love Lies Dreaming by Christopher Moss. It's another gay romance, set on a Mississippi paddle steamer in 1859. Again, it's sexually explicit and not everyone's cup of tea, but Christopher Moss writes well and if you like tales of beautiful men falling in love, it may be yours.

For something completely different, I still love Tracy Franklin's Angst, Anger, Love, Hope. Tracy is a poet and a bloody good one. Tracy has published another collection, Looking for the Sun Door since then. If you like your poetry soulful and sort of poet-y, Looking for the Sun Door might be your thing, but I preferred the earthiness of Angst, Anger, Love, Hope. Both allow you a preview on Amazon, so read a couple and decide which style you prefer. I wouldn't generally buy anyone a book of poetry but I really do think Tracy is terrific, so give her a shot.

If you're buying for a teenage girl, you might consider Amy Saia's The Soul Seekers. It's part romance, part ghost story and part thriller. It's set in a small town in Indiana. Amy Saia knows a lot about growing up in small-town America and she writes about it beautifully. She's another writer who will never get the audience she deserves, so bear her in mind. The paperback has to be shipped from the USA, so you'll have to hurry if you live in the UK and want it by Xmas.

Amy is a lovely singer, too, with definite echoes of Carly Simon. Perhaps I'll recommend some CDs in my next post.


  1. Thanks for including me, Tom. And thank you for the comparison to the wonderful Carly Simon. Love that! Did you know her family is literary royalty? They're the Simon of Simon & Schuster. Now . . . I'm off to make my list.

  2. No, I didn't know that. How nice to see someone with a family background in one part of the arts making such a success in another artistic arena, rather than just following in the family business.