Friday, February 10, 2012

"Is Little Dorrit Dead?"

Charles Dickens (whose 200th birthday we are celebrating this month) published his works serially, usually in  monthly installments. Dickens' talent for writing each episode as a cliffhanger made each successive episode wildly anticpated.   It was evident with the success of  The Pickwick Papers, (1836) that serialized fiction was a viable and popular format.

In fact, it's said that readers clambored so for the next installment of Little Dorrit that eager fans crowded the docks of Boston Harbor and yelled out to those on board the ship, "Is Little Dorrit dead?" (Although I've also seen this story attributed to the tale of Little Nell from The Old Curiosity Shop and New York Harbor)  

Among his best-known works, originally published as serials, are Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, Bleak House, and Nicholas Nickleby.

In much the same way, we at the library often field questions about when the next title in a popular series is due to come out.  While not published serially in montly publications, series fiction (which sometimes comes out annually or less often) has been popular for a long time and I am sure will remain so.

I have recently discovered the Flavia De Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley and am currently listening to the third in the series--A Red Herring Without Mustard.  These books, especially the recorded version, are a real treat.  Flavia, the protagonist,  is a precocious child with a penchant for chemistry and a passion for poisons.  The reader, actress Jayne Entwistle, does an amazing job of bringing these books to life.

I took a quick poll of library staff to see what other series are popular with them and with library patrons.  Here follow a selection of series from the results of that poll:
Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell Hamilton:  In the first of this series, Blake, a.k.a "The Executioner" is hired by the most powerful vampire in the city to hunt down someone who is killing innocent vampires.

Elm Creek Quilts series by Jennifer Chiaverini:  Highlighting the relationships of women in a small community, this series is a gently read.  The author, a quilter herself, has also created  quilt patterns inspired by the novels.

Ghostwalkers series by Christine Feehan: Catergorized as "romance suspense fiction" in the library catalog, this series by Feehan features Ghostwalkers---highly trained military men whose psychic powers have been enhanced by Dr. Peter Whitney, a brilliant and wealthy scientist--- and strong,capable heroines who work side by side to survive in very dangerous situations.

Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd:  Inspector Ian Rutledge is a shell shocked WWI veteran who returns to his job at Scotland Yard post war.  Todd is also the author of the Bess Crawford series, which takes place during this WWI era as well. 

Ladies of Covington series by Joan Medlicott:   Friends, Grace, Amelia and Hannah decide that the last thing they want to do is live out their lives in a group home, and so, to the dismay of their children, they pool their resources and move to Covington, North Carolina.  This series chronicles their new lives. 

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear:  Also set during the interim between the two great wars, Maisie, a former housemaid and army nurse, sets up shop as a private investigator.

September 11th series by Karen Kingsbury:  In these volumes, Christian author, Kingsbury follows the lives of people touched and scarred by the tragedy of 9/11.

Serge Storm series by Tim Dorsey:  While this author's work might not be everyone's cup of tea, if you are a fan of the black comedy genre or the Dexter Morgan series (which is also a television series titled  Dexter), you might enjoy Dorsey's work.

Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell:  This highly popular series chronicles the military career of Richard Sharpe, born a "guttersnipe" in London, who becomes an officer in the British Army during the Napoleanic Wars.

Shenandoah Album series by Emilie Richards:  Set in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, these novel novels explore relationships, families, and faith.

Shopaholic series by Sophie KinsellaConfessions of a Shopaholic, #1 in the series, was released as a motion picture in 2009 starring actress Isla Fisher.  The series follows the life and love of Becky Bloomwood, financial advisor and shopping addict.

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon:  According to the author, this series came about by accident which she describes as "historical fiction ala James Michener or James Clavell.  Interestingly, the books are written in such a way that they can be read independently of one another and don't necessarily need to be read in succession. 

These series are just the tip of the iceberg.  For more suggestions delve into Readers' Tools on the library's website.  You'll find book lists and databases to help you find just the right book to read next---or stop by and talk to library staff, we love exchanging the titles of favorite reads.

Dawn @ Warrenton with lots of help from Fauquier Library Staff

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