Whatever Gets You Through The Night
These are not easy times right now. So, as John Lennon once sang, whatever gets you through the night, it’s all right, all right… For me, it’s the recently discovered audible books that are getting me through the hours of broken sleep. Having grown up with Jackanory and nightly bedtime stories, there is something comfortingly familiar about drifting off to that disconnected voice wafting gently through my earbuds.
Of course, you need to be mindful of the type of book you choose. The stuff you might gravitate towards during the day does not necessarily promote a restful night’s sleep. Gabriel Tallent’s My Absolute Darling is just such a case in point: a fabulous book, but one not recommended for late night reading, unless you want to be tossing and turning for the next eight hours.
So, with a good night’s sleep in mind, here are my top five picks of books to fall asleep to.
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
Mix Jane Eyre with Rebecca and then set it in 1860s Iceland and your resulting hybrid is The Glass Woman. This is the tale of a young woman driven by poverty from her home after she marries a much older man in return for a dowry. She relocates to his remote coastal home, where she is greeted with suspicion by the villagers, with whom she is expressly forbidden to mix. She finds herself not only growing increasingly lonely, but also surrounded by dark rumours regarding the death of her husband’s first wife. Might not sound like bedtime reading but the lilting Icelandic accents of the readers will soon soothe you to sleep.
A Room with a View by E M Forster
This is a love story in two halves. The novel starts on a holiday in Italy, where Lucy Honeychurch and her older cousin, and chaperone, Charlotte, meet George Emerson and his rough-around-the-edges father. A few stolen kisses later, Lucy returns to her home in Surrey where she puts George firmly out of her mind, finally accepting a marriage proposal from the insufferable but better-bred Cecil Vyse. But who doesn’t love a bad boy? And Lucy is a woman who knows what she truly wants, which is refreshing in a heroine from a book originally published in 1908. You can guess what happens next.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Dark, dark, dark but oh so good! Again, we have a young bride and a dead first wife. But what is the truth behind the first Mrs de Winter’s death? After a whirlwind romance in Monaco, our naïve newly-wed bride (whose name we are never told) finds herself taken back to the magnificent family estate of Manderley on the Cornish coast. It sounds like a fairy tale, but when you factor in the openly hostile housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, you know that it is not going to be easy to fill Rebecca’s shoes….
The Song of The Lark by Willa Cather
Here we have another strong-willed young heroine in Thea Kronberg, who is growing up in Moonstone, Colorado in the 1890s. She is a talented pianist and singer who wishes to develop her career and escape the confines of her small town. When she comes into some money that has been bequeathed to her by someone who dreamed of marrying her, she heads for the bright lights of Chicago to begin her adventure.
Her path to success is anything but straight and takes her to Arizona, Mexico City, Germany and New York as she hones her skills and falls in, and out of, love.
The Snow Song by Sally Gardner
This is a magical love story set in a mountain village (somewhere that feels like Eastern Europe, though is never specified) and at a time which is just a long while before our current time. However, this enchanting fairy tale is brought right up to date courtesy of its headstrong heroine, Edith, and the many unexpected twists and turns of the plot.
Edith lives with her alcoholic father, the local cabinet maker, and has fallen in love with violin-playing shepherd, Demetrius. However, when he doesn’t return from tending his sheep at first snowfall, Edith is promised to the butcher instead–a much older man who bullies and terrorises the local villagers. But fear not: this is no Snow-White-type leading lady, pining for her prince’s return. Edith runs into the forest to escape the prospect of marriage to the butcher and, after a winter like no other, returns to wreak her revenge upon the misogynistic leaders of the village! Great fun!
Sweet dreams, all!