The Heatley CliffBooks Every Lady Should Have In Their Library, Part 1Amy Foster

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.  Here at the Heatley Cliff, Ewan has already strung vintage valentines across the window sills and fireplace mantels.  Gosling has made sure there are plenty of roses about the place (more pink than red) and Fassy is experimenting with food coloring and sugar crystals (oy).  This week on the podcast, we are expounding on this theme and talking about first crushes.  While it would have been fun to build a collage of Kirk Cameron, Rob Lowe and a bright-eyed, curly-headed JT, I thought it would be more fun to talk about what really gets us going: pretty words.

We love books here at the Heatley Cliff, and the right book can set the mood just as handily as candles can, or chocolate.  Sher and I both use various electronic devices to read and peruse, but we do think it’s important to maintain a physical library,  owning the tomes that are especially meaningful.  Besides, there is nothing better than the smell of the spine of a newly cracked book, no?  I’ve only included 5 this go round, but don’t worry, we’ll be adding to this list over time.  And please, do your inter-friends a favor and add your favorites in the comments.

1.  Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

This is truly a staple in any Lady’s library.  And lucky for us, many publishers have released gorgeously designed editions that are just as beautiful to look at as they are to read.  Plain Jane, clever and just a little tragic.  She’s nobody’s fool.  How can you not adore a heroine who sets her sights high knowing that she’s in no position to be a trophy wife?  She may be a little intimidated by Thornfield Hall, but she doesn’t back down from the sexy but perpetually cranky Mr. Rochester.  Jane’s wit and kindness makes her beautiful to him.  Mr. Rochester’s loyalty and innate goodness is enough for Jane to see past the gruff exterior.  Sure, there’s a glitch or two or ten.  But what an epic love story.

2.  The Silver Metal Lover, by Tanith Lee

Think Blade Runner, for women.  I’m not usually a fan of sci-fi (Battlestar Galactica aside) but this amazing book was written in the early ’80s and has become somewhat of a cult classic.  The story centers around another Jane, but this one is wealthy, beautiful, spoiled and bored.  The world she lives in has replaced most human labor with robots, with appropriately dystopian results.  When the all-seeing META company introduces a line of metallic robots that are poets, troubadours and lovers, Jane meets Silver (a metallic Jim Morrison/Sir Lancelot type) and falls under his spell.  Of course, they have to escape together a la Logan’s Run- sort of.  Essentially, this is a tale about what it means to be human and the power of love.  Yes, please.

3.  The Ice Queen, by Alice Hoffman

There is something truly provocative about this novel, which tells the story of  an emotionally stunted woman who is struck by lightening. The tale unfolds as she goes on a journey to find others like herself and to catalogue the strange  aftereffects of the strikes (she herself cannot see red, the color of passion – hmmm… interesting).  She meets Lazarus Jones, a fiery, intense fellow survivor.  She’s ice, he’s hot.  Sparks fly.  This novel reveals itself slowly and thoughtfully, but it’s well worth the read.

4. Such a Pretty Face, by Cathy Lamb

This is one of those books that don’t feel like you’re actually reading it, but instead it’s like a friend telling you her story.  It follows the journey of Stevie, a once 300 pound woman who becomes thin after a health scare forces her to lose the weight.  Bullied and misunderstood her entire life, Stevie find her voice, her strength and of course, love (including love for herself).  It’s a quiet, sneak-up-on-you kind of book.  Cozy up with a cuppa and enjoy.

5.  No Fond Return of Love, by Barbara Pym

Listen, ladies – if you have not heard of Ms. Pym or read anything by her, you must remedy this at once.  Many have called her the Jane Austen of her day, and I have to agree.  This is just one of her many books, so there is a wealth to explore.  I like this one in particular, which takes place in 1950s London, because it’s actually quite funny, albeit in an awkward kind of way.  The book tells the story of a Dulcie, a 30-something academic, and her pursuit of Alwyn Forbes.  There’s sort of a love triangle, or perhaps square thing going on here, but the tone is transportive.  It’s just a lovely novel.  Please go and discover this brilliant writer.

No set list of romantic books would be complete (and Sher would likely kill me) without including the prolific and incredible Nora Roberts.  So as a bonus, I give you:

6.  Three Sisters Island Trilogy

A town founded by witches fleeing persecution, you say?  The three descendants of those witches get their magic and love on with saucy, hot men? Oh yes, Nora, you are a rock star.

You can listen to this week’s podcast of the Heatley Cliff right here
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  1. “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon is AMAZING.. I have been telling everyone I know about this romantic, adventure-packed tomb. The story starts when Claire Randall is on a 2nd honeymoon in Scotland with her hubby, trying to rekindle things after they were separated by WWII. However, her honeymoon doesn’t turn out the way she planned when she accidentally steps through some mysterious standing stones (think Stonehenge) and winds up in the 18th century! Adventure ensues… It’s smart, funny, heart-pounding, and SEXY. Just TRY not to fall in love with Jamie Fraser. AND it’s a series… I just might reread it for VDay!

  2. Bought all of those on my kindle! :-) thank you! I know what I’ll be doing this valentines day! :)

  3. Gads you HAVE to include Julia Quinn. The woman is a veritable Austen. Try ROMANCING MR BRIDGERTON or the ever funny BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN. And a dash of JUST LIKE HEAVEN. She writes like Austen and is quite possibly funnier. And the romance? To die for! :)

  4. Thanks for this, have just requested them from my local library. I have to add “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer. A lovely story, easy to read, heart warming with romance, treachery, and humour. Simply wonderful. One of the few books I’ll happily re-read over and over and over.

  5. It would be remiss if this list didn’t include any Austen books!

  6. Battlestar Galactica is seriously the best show ever!

    Ok now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’m definitely checking out The Silver Metal Lover and the Three Sisters Island Trilogy. Both look great! and Jane Eyre is a timeless classic and still my favorite book.

  7. You’ve finally convinced me! I’ll be reading that copy of Jane Eyre sitting on my shelf. Some really good other ones are “Little Lady Agency” by Hester Brown (it’s about a woman who gets fired from her job and takes up being a ‘little lady’ with a pseudonym of Honey and the blonde wig to match. She becomes a sort of a professional organizer for men., getting their lives together, being a date for social functions, but not a call-girl. Conflict and passions arise when the faceless man who rearranged her former company, subsequently firing her, meets Honey and decides he needs some organizing too.) and any of Meg Cabot’s “The Boy Series” which are all cute romantic comedies told, not in that gauzy romance novel way, but through semi-modern things like cheeky texts and emails. or hilarious journal entries.

  8. Thanks, I will have to check out. My ultimate favourite lady book would have to be Wuthering Heights.

  9. OMG that silver metal lover one sound fantastic! I’m putting it on hold at my local library as we speak!