The thought that there are "so many books to read, and so little time in which to read them" is not a new idea. Bibliophiles the world over have lists of books to read and re-read, and the lists keep getting longer (or the piles of books deeper). Prepare for the list to to get longer, because this is a list of the top ten novels or series that are under-appreciated. Some have been overshadowed by the popularity of other books in a similar genre and some have just remained obscure. The purpose of this series of reviews is to explain why they should see the light of day (or be illuminated by a reader's book light).
1. Precious Bane
by Mary Webb, first published in 1924, is a novel set at the time of
the Napoleonic Wars, but is very different from what readers tend to
think of as a "Regency novel." It is the story of Prudence Sarn and her
brother, Gideon, who are left to make something of the farm their
father leaves behind when he dies. Gideon becomes obsessed with
ambition and wealth (his 'precious bane'). He pushes Prue to work even
harder than most men. She obeys because he promises that he will give
her the money she needs to correct her hare-lip when the farm is a
success. The story is full of harsh realities, but in the midst of
hardship arises a precious love story between Prue and Kester
Woodseaves, the local weaver. By the time the story is finished,
Prudence and Kester, and even Gideon have taken residence in the
reader's mind, and it is a story that is impossible to forget.