The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer.
This week, we have Cass Grafton, who writes contemparary and historical regency romance. Over to Cass:
Credited with being the father of the detective novel, Wilkie Collins wrote several intricately plotted Victorian mysteries. I’ve read them all, but my favourite is The Woman in White—published in serial form in 1859/1860.
This novel captured me with suspenseful narrative, atmospheric settings—from a fog-bound London to the bleak wilds of Cumberland—and Collins’ emphasis on a strong female character in Marian Halcombe.
Walter Hartright (the lead) embodies all the characteristics of later private detectives as he searches to uncover the true villain as the plot reels to and fro to a fascinating climax.
When my head is in disarray, my go-to comfort read is the Harry Potter series.
Prisoner of Azkaban (the third novel) is my favourite. There’s still enough magic about Harry’s story at this stage—despite the darker influences lurking beneath the surface—and Rowling’s skilful plotting takes my breath away.
I’ve recently realised writers like Collins and Rowling had a subliminal influence on my work, and I can’t write a book now without a mystery element, having fun as I drop clues throughout the narrative to see if the reader will pick up on them.
Thank you, Cass!
I’ve read several of Cass’s books now, including The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen and its sequel, The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen, both of which were co-written with American writer Ada Bright. They’re clever and amusing books, and I haven’t quite given up hope that they’ll be joined by a third one day!
Here’s the blurb for The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen:
When a time-travelling Jane Austen gets stuck in modern-day Bath it’s up to avid Janeite Rose Wallace to save her… because she’s the only one who knows that Jane exists!
Rose Wallace’s world revolves around all things Austen, and with the annual festival in Bath – and the arrival of dishy archaeologist, Dr Aiden Trevellyan – just around the corner, all is well with the world…
But then a mysterious woman who bears more than a passing resemblance to the great author moves in upstairs, and things take a disastrous turn. Rose’s new neighbour is Jane Austen, whose time travel adventure has been sabotaged by a mischievous dog, trapping her in the twenty-first century.
Rose’s life is instantly changed – new home, new job, new friends – but she’s the only one who seems to have noticed! To right the world around her, she will have to do whatever it takes to help Jane get back home to write Rose’s beloved novels. Because a world without Mr Darcy? It’s not worth living in!
Cass Grafton writes the sort of stories she loves to read–heart-warming, character driven and strong on location. Having moved around extensively and lived in three countries, she finds places inspiring, and the setting of her novels often becomes as much a part of the story as her characters.
She leans heavily towards the upbeat and insists on a happy ever after. As one of her favourite authors, Jane Austen, once wrote, ‘let other pens dwell on guilt and misery’.
Cass loves travelling, words, cats and wine but never in the same glass. She has two grown up children and currently splits her time between North Yorkshire, where she lives with her husband, and her imagination, where she lives with her characters.
Next month, we’re having writer A.J. Griffiths-Jones and her choice of books. 🙂 And look out for some fabulous sand sculpture photos next week!