By Katie Tobin
This is the time of year when the city of Durham is slowly but steadily moving into the fall. The weather demands knitted sweaters and heavy coats; the leaves are no longer a vibrant green but a rich amber. For many, turning to familiar works of fiction is a way to welcome the colder months.
First of all, the superb of Donna Tartt The secret story is wonderful read for the fall season. Secret History opens at the start of a new academic year at a prestigious liberal arts college in New Hampshire, a place synonymous with all things fall. Beyond its excellence as a campus novel, which ushers in that back-to-school feeling, the novel is a magnificent inversion of the detective story. The reader follows Richard Papen as he recounts the events leading up to the death of his friend Edmund “Bunny” Corcoran and the lasting effects of Bunny’s death on the academically isolated group of classics students and social of which he was part.
that of Oscar Wilde Dorian Gray’s photo feels great as the evenings get darker and you yearn for an odd read, though a story of vanity and corruption might seem overly appropriate after a week of debauchery during Freshers’. Wilde’s only novel follows anti-hero Dorian Gray, who, in an effort to keep his appearance young, watches his portrayal transform into an unrecognizable monster. Wilde’s novel is an edifying tale, urging the reader to approach hedonism with caution. During the winter months, it’s hard not to imagine Durham’s cobbled streets and cathedral architecture as more than a fitting setting for Wilde’s novel.
The night circus is also considered by many to be the perfect fall read. A beautifully atmospheric fantasy about a fantastic circus is perfect for those looking for a slow burn.
Perhaps an unconventional take, that of John Milton lost paradise makes it a difficult read but well worth it. Told in two narrative arcs, one following Satan, and the other Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Milton’s masterpiece opens after the banishment from hell of Lucifer and his fallen angels. Dark, atmospheric, and compelling, Milton’s poetic account of the Bible is worth persevering.
Last year, the Women’s Prize for Fiction was awarded to Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet. In a lyrical fantasy of Shakespeare’s life, O’Farrell resurrects the short life of his only son, Hamnet, and his tragic death. One could be mistaken in thinking that Hamnet is the central character of the novel, when in reality it is Agnes – the wife of Shakespeare. A convincing figure, Agnes remains shrouded in mystery, a gifted herbalist who is closely followed by her loyal kestrel. A novel that escapes the clichÃ©s of historical literature, Hamnet is a wonderful book of magic that a reader could easily find themselves immersed in on a cool autumn evening.
Image: Alisa Anton via Unsplash