If You Like– and Give Away!
March 10th, 2014

Rather than let If You Like slide entirely away in the midst of Monday Give Away season, the ever resourceful Tracy (Teresa) Grant came up with the perfect way of squaring the circle: a Monday Give Away If You Like.

Courtesy of Tracy, here’s an If You Like inspired by her upcoming release, The Berkeley Square Affair.

berkeley square affairAuthors often get asked where they got the idea for a book. For me, at least, the answer is usually too much a mélange of inspirations and half-formulated thoughts to pinpoint one moment. But in the case of my forthcoming The Berkeley Square Affair, I know exactly when the idea came to me. I was driving with my daughter Mélanie to the birthday party of the daughter of friends who was turning one (at the time Mélanie’s own first birthday party seemed far in the future, and she is now past two, which tells you something about the time that elapses between the genesis of a book and its publication). As I drove along winding Marin County country roads, I got the idea of Malcolm and Suzanne’s friend, playwright Simon Tanner, climbing through their drawing room window, bloody from an attack. Because he was bringing them a manuscript. A manuscript that might be an alternate version of Hamlet. Of course, this being Malcolm and Suzanne’s world, the manuscript contains secrets beyond the identity of its author…

If you like stories with a literary twist, here are some others you might enjoy:

Possession by A.S. Byatt. This glorious novel is at once literary detective story, love story, and mediation on love and creativity. Byatt manages to create the voices of not one but two fictional Victorian poets. A work of staggering brilliance that brought tears to my eyes.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Both literary research and Harriet Vane’s novel in progress feature in the this complex novel which is a major turning point in the developing relationship of Harriet and Lord Peter Wimsey.

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig. Even though Augustus Whittlesby is undercover when he writes, in the course of working on a play together, he and Emma Delagardie learn the truth of each other’s hearts. One of my favorite of Lauren’s books that combines two of my loves, literature and espionage.

The Courting of Philippa by Anthea Malcolm. The second of the Regency Romances I co-wrote with my mother, Joan Grant, features a heroine who writes romantic novels, and a hero who is also a writer but considers his work more serious. When they first meet, she discovers that he is the anonymous author of a scathingly dismissive review of her latest book…

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. Ideally, see a production of this brilliant play, but if none is to hand, it is well worth reading. The plot moves between the present day and Regency England in the same country house. The story involves the intricacies of science, gardening, and a missing letter by Lord Byron, and the need to keep searching for answers, whether about science, history, or literature.

There are so many books I love on this list, including Gaudy Night, which is a constant re-read for me; Possession, which was a major inspiration for my upcoming Victorian-set book, That Summer, and, of course, Stoppard’s Arcadia. (Fun fact: I played Lady Croom in grad school, and got to dress in Regency costume, berate my butler with a swipe of the fan, and dally with Septimus Hodge. And, yes, there are embarrassing pictures of this extant on the internet.)

Tracy has generously provided us with a copy of her own book with a literary twist: The Berkeley Square Affair.

Here’s the official blurb:

berkeley square affairA stolen treasure may hold the secret to a ghastly crime…. Ensconced in the comfort of their elegant home in London’s Berkeley Square, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch are no longer subject to the perilous life of intrigue they led during the Napoleonic Wars. Once an Intelligence Agent, Malcolm is now a Member of Parliament, and Suzanne is one of the city’s most sought-after hostesses. But a late-night visit from a friend who’s been robbed may lure them back into the dangerous world they thought they’d left behind…. Playwright Simon Tanner had in his possession what may be a lost version of Hamlet, and the thieves were prepared to kill for it. But the Rannochs suspect there’s more at stake than a literary gem–for the play may conceal the identity of a Bonapartist spy–along with secrets that could force Malcolm and Suzanne to abandon their newfound peace and confront their own dark past….

For a copy of Tracy’s The Berkeley Square Affair, here’s your question:

What are your favorite books with a literary twist?

One person will be chosen at random to receive a copy of The Berkeley Square Affair. Winner to be announced on Wednesday….

Look for The Berkeley Square Affair in a bookstore near you on March 25!



53 Responses to “If You Like– and Give Away!”

  1. Alexandra says:

    For some reason, I can only think of plays that have a literary twist. Equivocation (about William Shakespeare and truth-telling in difficult times) and Arabian Nights. I too loved Possession.

  2. HJ says:

    Arcadia is my all-time favourite play! I was lucky enough to see the original production with Rufus Sewell, which was lovely, but I like the play for the complex interplay between the past and the present, and the numerous links and parallels. I’m very jealous of you for having actually acted in it!

    Northanger Abbey is a literary twist from start to finish – Jane Austen’s parody of the Gothic novels which were so fashionable when she wrote it loses much of its impact if one doesn’t know just how OTT the Gothic novels were – take Gwen Masters’s magnum opus, for example!

    I also like Marlowe’s Ghost by Sarah Black which explores in fiction the theory that Christopher Marlowe did not die in a brawl but deliberately staged his death to avoid arrest for heresy, fled abroad, and then went on to write all the works now attributed to Shakespeare (an agreement having been reached for the use of WS’s name). (The theory also appears in a non-fiction book of he same name by Daryl Pinksen).

  3. Michelle K says:

    The Bookman series by John Dunning!

  4. Ashley says:

    Thanks for having Tracy as a guest! I love this series and can’t wait to read this newest release.

    Favorite books with a literary twist: The Blind Assassin, The Thirteenth Tale, and Shadow of the Wind.

  5. Rachel Brown says:

    My favorite book with a literary twist is definitely The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. All of her books have a twist, but this book had the biggest one in my opinion!

  6. Christine says:

    I enjoyed Jennifer Lee Carrell’s Interred with their Bones – intellectual thriller with a Shakespearean twist. I didn’t like her second novel, Haunt Me Still, as much, but also a modern day thriller with some Shakespeare thrown in.

  7. Rachel Adrianna says:

    The Thirteenth Tale and the Rose series by Jennifer Donnelly!

  8. Catie says:

    Hands down “The People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks. An outstanding work!

  9. Michelle says:

    Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell is a pretty good Shakespeare mystery

  10. Nancy says:

    The Bean Tree by Barbara Kingsolver

  11. Ella says:

    The Princess Bride
    I love the bit when he realizes his dad only read him the fun and exciting bits to him as a child.

    The Garden Intrigue
    I fell in love with Whittlesby the first moment he was mentioned in the series and adored his book.

  12. Céline says:

    I’ll go with Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, the first installment being The Eyre Affair. I’m not sure it fits exactly in the category we’re talking about todau, but the books are so good and Jasper Fforde plays with the British literature in such a way that every word is a treasure, I couldn’t not mention them! :)

  13. Kayse says:

    I love Jennifer Lee Carrell’s “Interred With Their Bones” and “Haunt Me Still.” Who doesn’t dream about uncovering a lost Shakespearean play?

  14. Nikki B says:

    Its a young adult book, but I always loved Inkheart! It is about quite literally the ability of reading to take you to far off places.

  15. Kristy says:

    Celine beat me to it. I, too, was going with the Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series where we meet book characters straight up. The Eyre Affair is a great place to start.

  16. bn100 says:

    Don’t think I’ve read one

  17. Stephanie says:

    I don’t know if it counts as a literary twist but the ending of Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor is pretty shocking

  18. Momma Sue says:

    Any of the Lord Peter books. I read them the first time in high school, and only knew a couple of the works he quoted. The older I got, and of course I kept rereading because who wouldn’t, the more quotations I recognized. So the more fun it got to be.

  19. Kathryn says:

    The Westing Game. Its full of twists and turns! And it’s been one of my favorites since I was very young.

  20. Kimberly V says:

    The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

  21. Vanessa says:

    The Thirteenth Tale is the only book I’ve read with a good twist, it looks like I need to check out The Secret Keeper!

  22. Emily says:

    I like Howl’s Moving Castle. Almost everything in it is different than it seems.

  23. Jan Marie says:

    Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels! Heroine purchases an unpublished manuscript written in the 18th century and tries to discover the author’s identity.

  24. Betty S. says:

    Two books by Syrie James – The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen. Also, The Gentleman Poet (Shakespeare) by Kathryn Johnson.

  25. Alice says:

    “Mr. Penumbras 24 Hour Bookstore” and The death on demand series by Carolyn Hart.

  26. DJ La Haie says:

    This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart, set on Prospero’s Island and truly evocative of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

  27. Suzanne says:

    I loved Arcadia too. It is a regular on the amateur theatre circuit in Melbourne and I have seen it twice; I would like to see it again as it is one of those plays that you get more from each time you see it.

    As for books my favourites would be Anna Maclean’s Louisa May Alcott mysteries. There is a mystery in each book but also a lot about her writing of one particular story per book. I love to read the mystery then go to my volume of her early stories and read the story in question.

    I also loved The Courting Of Philippa and Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours. I have a copy of The Secret Keeper but I haven’t read it yet.

    Another which sort of fits this category is Josephine Tey’s Daughter Of Time which is about a policeman trying to discover the truth behind the Tudor propaganda writings on the history of Richard III. Absolutely brilliant!!!

  28. Georgia says:

    I love Gaudy Night and thirteenth tale.

  29. diane says:

    The Thirteenth Tale! Hope I am not too late.

  30. Sue G says:

    Kate Morton’s Secret Keeper.
    This book is on my TBR list.
    Great contest.

  31. Katie says:

    I loved Jennifer Lee Carrell’s Interred With Their Bones and Haunt me Still. A modern search for a long lost work by Shakespeare- how can you go wrong?! I also enjoyed John K Stephens The Emerald Atlas. It is sort of a combination of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. An enchanted book transports the characters to an earlier time in their lives and they have to change the story to keep something awful from happening. I can’t wait to read this new book!!

  32. Pat D says:

    Stephanie Barrone’s Jane Austen series is very good. One of the mysteries features Lord Byron. The Mischief of the Mistletoe features a “cameo” by Jane Austen also. The sequel to A Discovery of Witches includes Christopher Marlowe. I’m sure there are a lot more but I’m suffering from brain fog at the moment. I look forward to reading both Lauren’s and Tracy’s latest books!

  33. Jorie says:

    Hallo Ms. Willig,

    I feel as though I’ve not dropped by in half an age! I’ve missed visiting with you and the bookish conversations which are always such a happy delight on your blog! I was trying to sort out which ‘literary twist’ caught me off-guard the most!? And, I would have to say it was “Mr. Murder” by Dean Koontz! I never suspected the ending and the whole of the plot was quite scary for a budding writer! Oy! Its also the last book I read by the author! Too chilling!!

    For me the ‘twist’ was ‘who’ the murderer ended up being which had a connection to the ‘writer’ inside the story.

    I am not sure if this is the ‘right’ twist, but for me it was the ‘twist’ that shocked me!

  34. Gretchen says:

    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. No romance, but, of course, a definite literary twist.

  35. Gretchen says:

    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco — quite a literary twist!

  36. Leila says:

    I hope I’m not too late for the contest…

    I love books that pay some sort of homage to other books or to literature in general. The best kind of meta there is, in my opinion. I’ve read a number of them but some that stand out are:
    1. The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson (already mentioned above but worth reiterating)–a beautiful novel that pays tribute to shakespeare and the tempest
    2. To Say nothing of the dog by connie willis–one of her time travel novels and nice because it is some much less depressing than doomsday book (which is also good). The title is a reference to jerome k jerome and the entire novel (set in a future oxford and also in the victorian era) is chock full of quotes and references to various English authors of different periods (with an obvious slant toward victorian works but also some agatha christie).
    3. I second (or third) the recommendation of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books (a literary detective who can literally enter great works of literature). So much fun!
    4. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead is another Stoppard play that I adore.
    5. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is also good. In it, a lost book manuscript is found and links together the lives of the writer who lived in WWII poland and the person who finds it in modern America. Lovely.
    6. The Intelligencer by leslie silbert which is about christopher marlowe in the past and has a mystery and an antique manuscript in the present.

  37. Sharlene Martin Moore says:

    The Secret Keeper is a fabulous book. I loved The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

    I love the cover on this book.

  38. Juanita Decuir says:

    WOW SO MANY GREAT ANSWERS, I WANT COME BACK AND TAKE MY TIME READING WHAT BOOKS LOOK INTERESTING…MANY AUTHORS I HAVEN’T READ…MAKING A WANT LIST! 1. Kate Morton’s Secret Keeper

  39. Jessica Mac says:

    The Secret Keeper!!
    I love Teresa Grant’s novels and am so excited to read this latest!!

  40. Marianne says:

    Deb Harkness’ SHADOW OF NIGHT has got to be top book with a literary bent. I mean, Christopher Marlowe! What a jerk. LOL (And now I have a new-to-me author to discover. Thank you.)

  41. Mary D. says:

    The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is a fun series with many characters from classic literature popping up in the Book World.

  42. Lilyane Soltz says:

    “Northanger Abbey”, first and foremost. All of Kate Morton’s books, “The Thirteenth Tale”, and both of Syrie James’ Jane Austen books.

    My next favorite will be “The Berkeley Square Affair” – regardless of how it makes its way to my book shelf.

    Thanks so much!

  43. Nikki Loy says:

    The Secret Keeper.

  44. Carla Hundley says:

    I like all of Lauren Willig’s
    books with the Pink Carnation.
    Enjoy reading about the times
    as they happened and how they
    tie into the present times.
    Carla from Utah

  45. Lorri says:

    The Passion of Purple Plumeria, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (a girl survives through hardships with the power of books, stories and imagination), Lavinia by Ursula K. LeGuin (Lavinia, Aeneas’ last wife, is given a voice in this book—very empowering and utterly well-researched)

  46. Jessica C says:

    The Inkheart trilogy by Cornelia Funke. Particularly the last two books, when the characters have been read into the world of Inkheart, when the lines between ‘reality’ and the world of the written word gets very blurred.

  47. Sharlene Martin Moore says:

    Oh Marianne, how I could forget Shadow of Night, my goodness Shakespeare was in it.

    I loved The Secret Keeper, but I am missing the literary tie-in. I just have read too many books since then I guess.

  48. Holly Gipson says:

    The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

    • Holly Gipson says:

      Actually, make that The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton. Both were FANTASTIC, but the conclusion/twist in THAR was superb.

  49. Jessica Claypole says:

    “Black Ships” by Jo Graham, a reimagining of “The Aeneid” is simply amazing – a different point in time than most of the books other people are commenting, but still a simply amazing retelling of a classic tale.

  50. Connie Starkey says:

    Ooops! My first thought was of Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist (Tim Federle) but I’m certain that’s not the type of literary twist you were looking for :-/

    I love, love, loved The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafón). This was written in the style of many epic films, only this is on paper and a wonderfully delightful read.

    Now, I’ll pass The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose around for those wanting to join me :-)

  51. Amy says:

    I just finished reading “The Winter Sea” by Susanna Kearsley. It features a historical novel within a contemporary novel and it is very enjoyable. I would highly recommend it.


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