What’s it about?
Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead.
So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from shelves.
We are fondly introduced to each potential rediscovery: from lost Victorian voices to the twentieth century writers who could well become the next John Williams, Hans Fallada or Lionel Davidson. Whether male or female, flash-in-the-pan or prolific, mega-seller or prize-winner – no author, it seems, can ever be fully immune from the fate of being forgotten.
Readers, I thought this day would never come; that I’d actually be able to share my thoughts on this book because it took me so flippin’ long to read. Goodreads reliably informs me that I started it on December 5th and finished it on February 25th! So ok, I wasn’t reading it solidly all this time. It’s one of those books that you can pick up, read a couple of chapters and then leave for a week whilst you slot in something…a little more gripping.
Don’t get me wrong this really is a delightful selection of ‘forgotten authors’ across all genres and ages. Each chapter highlighting a different author coupled with the author’s reasons and anecdotes for including within the chosen 99.
I’m not gonna lie, the majority of the authors in this book I’d never heard of but there were a few little gems whereby I knew their books but didn’t know who had written them so those were good surprises. And, of course, books I’d heard of but didn’t know the authors; Emma Orczy being a good example – a figurative walk down memory lane!
My favourite chapter of the book was Ronald Knox, chapter 54. I’d never heard of this author before but he was a Catholic priest but he also wrote mystery novels and what I liked most was his Decalogue that he devised – a set of rules for the crime fiction reader, a sort of author’s dos and don’ts which included “the detective must not himself commit the murder and not more than one secret room or passage is allowable”.
Overall, this book is a real treat for all readers and in particular those that enjoy short stories or anthologies.
p.s the book has such a gorgeous cover with gold embossing – stunning!
Small print for info
Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 384