Today’s Desert Island Books have been chosen by Morton S. Gray. Morton, very naughtily, has tried to squeeze in extra books by sending me a picture of her ‘keeper shelf’ to include. I am on to you, Morton, it is five books only! No exceptions. Let’s see what she has picked.
Book One – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice, which opens with one of the most famous sentences in English Literature, is an ironic novel of manners. In it the garrulous and empty-headed Mrs Bennet has only one aim – that of finding a good match for each of her five daughters. In this she is mocked by her cynical and indolent husband.
With its wit, its social precision and, above all, its irresistible heroine, Pride and Prejudice has proved one of the most enduringly popular novels in the English language.
I’ve loved this book ever since I read it as a school text many, many years ago. I don’t think I could ever get bored of Austen’s wit.
Book Two – Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon
When the abandoned strays from a local dogs’ home are matched with brand new owners, it turns out it might not just be the dogs who need rescuing.
Rachel’s aunt has left her a house, a Border Collie and, despite knowing nothing about dogs, a crowded kennel. But since her life has collapsed she’s not sure she can deal with any more lost souls.
Zoe’s ex-husband has given their children a puppy. The kids are in love, but she’s the one stuck training Toffee the impossible Labrador. She’s nearly at the end of her tether – until Toffee leads her to a handsome doctor . . .
Meanwhile Natalie and Johnny’s marriage hasn’t been easy since they started trying for a baby. But is a fridge-raiding, sofa-stealing Basset hound like Bertie really the child substitute they’re looking for?
As the new owners’ paths cross on the town’s dog-walking circuits, their lives become interwoven. And they – and their dogs – learn some important lessons about loyalty, companionship and unconditional love . . .
I must have read this one three or four times, so it would be a good choice for the desert island. Full of real life highs and lows, love and loss, it makes me laugh and cry.
Book Three – North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Set in the mid-19th century, and written from the author’s first-hand experience, North and South follows the story of the heroine’s movement from the tranquil but moribund ways of southern England to the vital but turbulent north. Elizabeth Gaskell’s skilful narrative uses an unusual love story to show how personal and public lives were woven together in a newly industrial society.
Another classic – I don’t think new readers would guess how long ago this book was written. The television adaptation starring Richard Armitage as John Thornton was fantastic and true to the book, so I can always imagine Richard when I’m reading the book again on my desert island. Another book full of love, loss, emotion and real life.
Book Four – Wintercombe by Pamela Belle
Sometimes we find light in the darkest of places…
Tortured by a cold, Puritan father, Silence has learned to conceal her passionate nature inside a prison like shell of passivity. Her eventual marriage does not offer her the escape that she longs for and she craves some semblance of autonomy. It is only the sweep of history that finally offers Silence the freedom she so desires.
Civil war has raged and her sombre husband has been away for two years. Wintercombe, once a tranquil bastion of family virtue, is transformed into an unruly, drunken, and licentious garrison. From this turmoil a still more subtle threat dawns in the handsome shape of Captain Nick Hellier.
As the battle for England is matched by the struggle within her soul, it’s not long before Captain Hellier starts to slowly unlock the chains around Silence’s fragile, Puritan heart…
I’m afraid I always mention this one if I’m asked about a favourite novel, but it is my all time favourite.
The period of English history that fascinates me most is the English Civil War. I’ve been to numerous talks about it and my bookshelves are full of accounts of the war. My son and I even used to go to battle reenactments by The Sealed Knot. I’m particularly interested in the role of women in the conflict and really must get around to finishing my own series of novels about this time.
Wintercombe is set in the period and I can easily imagine myself in the shoes of Lady Silence St Barbe, the heroine of the novel. This must be the book I have read more times than any other, at least ten times already.
Book Five – The Winter Garden by Heidi Swain
Will love bloom this winter?
Freya Fuller is living her dream, working as a live-in gardener on a beautiful Suffolk estate. But when the owner dies, Freya finds herself forced out of her job and her home with nowhere to go. However, with luck on her side, she’s soon moving to Nightingale Square and helping to create a beautiful winter garden that will be open to the public in time for Christmas.
There’s a warm welcome from all in Nightingale Square, except from local artist Finn. No matter how hard the pair try, they just can’t get along, and working together to bring the winter garden to life quickly becomes a struggle for them both.
Will Freya and Finn be able to put their differences aside in time for Christmas? Or will the arrival of a face from Freya’s past send them all spiralling?
Morton let me pick her last book from a list that she had recently enjoyed, so I’ve chosen the new novel by Heidi Swain because I adore Heidi’s books and it would be great to have one to keep you company on a desert island.
My luxury item
I love my perfumed soaps! I went on a course to learn how to make them and I’m hooked. So, I guess I’d want a bag of different soaps. I’m now experimenting with putting a crystal in the middle of my creations and using flower essences in the soap mix, to combine crystal healing and mood enhancers with my shower. At least I’d be clean on my desert island.
About Morton S. Gray
Morton lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K. She has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.
Her debut novel The Girl on the Beach was published after she won the Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition. This story follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s new headteacher, Harry Dixon. The book is available as a paperback and e-book.
Morton’s second book for Choc Lit The Truth Lies Buried is another romantic suspense novel, The book tells the story of Jenny Simpson and Carver Rodgers as they uncover secrets from their past. This book is available as an e-book, paperback and audiobook.
Christmas at Borteen Bay is Morton’s first Christmas novella. It is set in her fictional seaside town of Borteen and follows the story of Pippa Freeman, who runs the Rose Court Guesthouse with her mother, and local policeman Ethan Gibson, as they unravel a family secret as Christmas approaches.
Morton previously worked in the electricity industry in committee services, staff development and training. She has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. She also has diplomas in Tuina acupressure massage and energy field therapy. She enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.
Morton’s latest release is bestselling Sunny Days on the Beach, her fourth novel for Choc Lit. Now available as an e-book and audio download, this is what the book is about:-
From party nights at the pub to sunny days at the beach …
Craft shop owner Mandy Vanes has always enjoyed a commitment-free singleton lifestyle — in fact, she’s well-known for her wild ways in her small seaside town on the coast.
But when local teenager, Nick Crossten, turns to her for help, Mandy has the opportunity to prove she can be a responsible adult. Although things get tricky when gin distillery owner Graham Frankley comes to town with some unexpected news.
Could this mean that Mandy the party girl is finally ready to grow up?
Connect with Morton:
Website – www.mortonsgray.com
Facebook: Morton S Gray
Twitter – @MortonSGray
Instagram – @morton_s_gray