When my favourite item in the Waitrose Weekend paper (My Best Books) was chopped to just one book a week from five, I really missed it - I just love to hear what other people rate their cherished reads, so I decided to start my own guest-blog along the same lines.
Here is the fourth, with thanks to Paul Davies, who studied English at University College, London, before pursuing a career in music administration. He writes:
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
A feast of 70's San Francisco served up through the adventures of a diverse group of characters centred around the enigmatic Mrs Madrigal.
Quirky, amusing and touching - I loved the book and its sequels well before I finally got to San Francisco and explored the locations so vividly depicted.
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
The film of this book introduced me to the works of Anne Tyler. Her sensitive observations of everyday minutiae build into portraits of characters for whom you really care as they navigate the emotional pitfalls of relationships and everyday life.
Music and Silence by Rose Tremain
No two books by Rose Tremain are ever remotely the same. This captivating novel is set in 1629 when a young English lutenist joins the Royal Orchestra of the melancholic and idealistic Charles IV of Denmark and falls in love with a lady-in-waiting. The intricacies, intrigues and passions of the protagonists and court life are brilliantly painted - with Kirsten, the King's adulterous Consort, a particularly charismatic and memorable character.
Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell
Quite different from the "Wallander" books for which he is probably best known, this novel begins on the frozen wastes of a Swedish island where a recluse is forced to undertake a physical and spiritual journey to confront his past and its consequences. Both interior and exterior landscapes are hauntingly realised.
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Being one of the "Godless students of Gower Street", I have always been fascinated by the Bloomsbury Group. Set during two visits to Skye, ten years apart, relationships and experiences are perceived through the mind's eyes of the Ramsay family and their guests. Emotions and thoughts constantly shift as each moment passes. It is lyrically written and the interlude "Time Passes" is as near to poetry as prose can get.