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Favorite English series

  • Jul 12, 2011
I was tidying the bookshelves and saw some wonderful English hiding there. With books stacked two-deep and two-high on each shelf, they can hide very effectively, but I try to put one from each series in the front row. Here's what I found... or at least, what I've found so far--still more shelves to go...
Harry Potter Series
Technically these belong to one of our sons. We were Harry Potter addicts before the first book was even published in the US--some English friends came to visit and left volume one behind with us, so we still possess a genuine Philosopher's Stone with Harry's name on it.
Chalet School in Exile (The Chalet School)
Elinor M. Brent-Dyer's Chalet School books have certainly stood the test of time in my family. My Mum read them as a kid. I read them as a kid. My Mum's still collecting unabridged volumes to replace my cheap paperbacks, and I'm still collecting my old paperbacks as she finishes with them. English girls in an English girls' boarding school on the continent, learning to be citizens of the world, and having all sorts of unlikely adventures on the way.
See the full review, "A favorite book from a favorite series--good old-fashioned English girls' school story".
The Masters (Strangers and Brothers)
I met my husband while we were at college in Cambridge, England, and we shared this book, then searched the bookstores and markets to acquire the complete series. Great characters. Great characterization of English life; politics and personalities made all too genuinely human.
See the full review, "Real Cambridge, real colleges, real England".
Madonna of the Astrolabe
J.I.M. Stewart's Oxford Quintet is, of course, about "the other place"--Oxford University. I never liked it quite as much as Strangers and Brothers, but it's still full of atmosphere and character and a really good read.
See the full review, "The Oxford Quintet finds its most imaginative title in this one".
Sharpe's Tiger (Richard Sharpe's Adventure Series
Okay, going a bit further back in history here, but what's not to like about Richard Sharpe. If anything, the books are even better than the TV series, though it's hard to read them, or even look at them, without hearing the music in my head.
The Darkening Sea (The Bolitho Novels)
Going to sea now in history, it seemed like the Bolitho novels started with a kids' book, then the kid grew up. I first met them at college and loved them--full of atmosphere and plot; a chance to enjoy the sea without getting seasick, and sea battles without getting hurt.
Master and Commander
I have to include this series; it's there on the shelf. But I haven't read it yet. My husband loves it--I just need more time...
Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy
Even further back in history. Well, what kid growing up in England to fail to be fascinated by Merlin. This series was the one that first introduced me to the wonders of magic and history all rolled into one--magic for grown-ups, and just what I needed as I was growing up.
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
I've got to include Jane Austen of course. I honestly hadn't read anything of hers growing up, but I found a "complete works" in one volume when I went to college and devoured it delightedly. It's still on my bookshelf now.
A Study In Scarlet
Now these I did read as a child, and was given my "complete works" of Conan Doyle (which of course, included the complete Sherlock Holmes) as a Christmas present one year.
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
More complete works? No, this one's only a selected works, and the Time Machine is one of the best selections. Heading for college, and just realizing that science fiction wasn't only the realm of modern Americans after all.
The Lord of the Rings (novel)
Here's another series I didn't read till college, but I've read it many times since, and no list of favorite British series could be complete without it.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The classic English children's books, and part of a boxed set I bought with my first ever pay-check!
Smiley's People
We have a fine collection of Le Carre books, but the George Smiley ones will always be our favorites. That BBC series was my first introduction, though my husband was already an addict. I was soon an addict too. Complex plots. Great characters. Tense and darkly bemusing.

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About the list creator
Sheila Deeth ()
Ranked #41
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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