Miranda Neville's Favorite Books

The Amorous Education of Celia SeatonLots of people join in the old nature/nurture debate. I would argue that after a certain point in our lives, we are the product of the people we befriend and the books we read. That’s why I was so excited that my friend Miranda Neville decided to share some of her favorite titles today. Of course, one of her own fabulous books is hitting the shelves tomorrow (along with my own Improper Gentlemen!) Miranda’s not the sort to toot her own horn, so let me just save you some time and tell you to proceed directly to your bookstore or online etailer and buy The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton without delay. You can thank me later. ;-)

And now, Miranda, my blog is yours!

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Mia invited me on her blog because my new book comes out tomorrow. But I’ve been talking about THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON a lot, and I’ll be talking about it more in the weeks to come. If you want to know about it (and I hope you do: it’s fun, really) I’m going to direct you to my website where you’ll find a blurb, excerpt, etc. Today I want to talk about books I’ve loved all my life, specifically five of my very favorite books for children or young adults.

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. What child with a happy family doesn’t fantasize about being an orphan? The three orphaned Fossil sisters are brought together by an eccentric professor, known as GUM (for Great Uncle Matthew), and left with his niece. GUM disappears and so does their money. Pauline, Petrova, and Posy enroll in a performing arts academy and earn their living acting and dancing. I defy any female over the age of ten to put this book down.

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. Published in 1946 and set a century earlier, orphaned Maria Merryweather travels to Cornwall to live with her uncle at Moonacre Manor, a paradise threatened by evil. Maria must resolve a family quarrel going back to the Middle Ages to bring peace and happiness to her home.  This is a magical book, literally so since it has a strong paranormal element. I’m not even sure why I love it so. Perhaps because it has charming eccentric characters, anthropomorphic animals, and three happy couples at the end.

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. Elnora Comstock is not an orphan. She lives with her bitter mother in an Indiana swamp. She funds her own education by catching the moths that dwell in the Limberlost and rises to the top of her class, despite her social awkwardness. I love Elnora’s triumph over snobby classmates, her struggles and eventual reconciliation with her prickly mother, and a gorgeous romance with Philip Ammon, a hot doctor’s son from Chicago.

Anne of Green Gables. There’s nothing new to say about Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic and its sequels. Anne and Gilbert are the ultimate hate-into-love couple. The best thing is that we know Gilbert adores Anne from about five minutes after he pulls her pigtail and calls her Carrots. You’ve got to love a guy who works so many years to change a girl’s mind. My favorite bit is still when she dyes her hair green. Or perhaps when she gets Diana drunk. Or….

Little Women BY LOUISA MAY ALCOTT. I’m an Amy girl. I know that’s perverse and we’re supposed to love Jo best. But I was the youngest of four girls and totally identified with Amy. I gloated when she got the hot rich guy. Jo needed her head examined to turn down Laurie and end up with the weird old professor. (Except in the move version where he was played by Gabriel Byrne.)

Which of these books do you love, and why? And are there any more members of Team Amy out there? One commenter will receive a copy of The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton.

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Thanks, Miranda! Be sure to leave a comment or question to be entered in the drawing. Good luck!

50 thoughts on “Miranda Neville’s Favorite Books

  1. Rosie Nguy says:

    Congratulations on your release! From your list above, I loved Little Women (I have one of those really old hardcover copies that’s been coupled with Little Men). I remember that it was written beautifully, and since I read it when I was a girl myself, I liked knowing about what the four sisters did together. I also remember being disappointed in Jo’s choice…I don’t know how I will feel about it if I re-read it now, about 10 years later. I also remember reading A Girl of the Limberlost and enjoying it, but I don’t remember much about it. It’s probably time I went back and refreshed my memory on these.

  2. Chelsea B. says:

    Yikes, I haven’t read any of these! Wasn’t a big reader when I was little :-)
    Congratulations on your new release!

  3. I think you’ve put your finger on the perennial appeal of Little Women, Maria. Those books really resonate, even now.

  4. Maria D. says:

    Congratulations on your new release Miranda!

    I am a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables and of Little Women. I can’t count the number of times I’ve re-read my books (had to buy new copies when they got worn out) and I loved Little Women so much that I read the rest of the books (Little Men and Jo’s Boys). I also read her Eight Cousins and it’s sequel Rose In Bloom (I recommend those if you haven’t had a chance to read them). I loved these books as a child because these women were liberated and adventerous – they didn’t let anyone tell them they couldn’t do something just because they were females. Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. YAY. Three other people who know and love A GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST. We had an elderly aunt I had to visit frequently and in her ‘spare room’ were bookcases full of wonderful stories. That’s where I first found GOTL. I also devoured all the Nancy Drew mysteries and, living in North Missouri at the time, I read all Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer/Becky Thatcher/Huck Finn stories. I used to sneak a flashlight to bed and read under the covers.

    Miranda, can’t wait to get a copy of THE AMOROUS EDUCATION…. Great to meet you here.

    1. YAY back for another Limberlost fan. I forgot Mark Twain, which I also read as a kid. But I must say they weren’t my favorites. I guess I’m too much of a girl LOL.

      1. I want to add that I love your description of finding books at your aunt’s house. That’s so evocative. My grandmother’s attic was full of books and I found all sorts of treasures visiting her, including some amazing Victorian morality tales. I also discovered Jane AUsten via a tattered copy of a dramatization of Pride and Prejudice. After that I had to read the novel, and then the others.

  6. Na says:

    Hi Miranda! Congratulations on your latest book! It sounds both witty and romantic. Some of my favourite books include Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. I also have to add Nancy Drew to my least. All these woman have spunk and courage in their own way which makes them very endearing.

    1. It’s a terrible gap in my education but I don’t remember ever reading a Nancy Drew. Another thing to get at the library!

  7. Quilt Lady says:

    I loved Little Women and Jo was my favorite character in the book for some reason. Black Beauty was always a favorite of mine and I thought that one day I would own a horse like that but never have.

    1. Jo is a great character. Undoutedly Louisa M. Alcott meant her to be the heroine of the book. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Deb says:

    Congrats on the new release, Miranda! I look forward to reading it.

    I loved Anne of Green Gables. I fell in love with Gilbert the minute he called Anne, with an ‘e’, Carrots. I read AOGG with my daughter last year and she giggled at many of Anne’s adventures. I also loved the tv adaptation of AOGG. It was very well done and I still love to watch it.

    1. The TV adaptation of AOGG was wonderful – one of the best ever. The casting and acting were just perfect and they really stuck close to the book.

  9. Dani Harper says:

    Congrats Mia and Miranda on your books hitting the shelves tomorrow! Thanks for a lovely trip down Memory Lane with these dear old titles — and it was VERY exciting to me to find someone who remembers A Girl of the Limberlost. I loved Little Women (and Little Men and Jo’s Boys) and all of the Anne books. Anyone else read the Famous Five? Someone mentioned more of my favorites, Black Beauty and Where the Red Fern Grows. I adored animal stories, so I also read Beautiful Joe, the Black Stallion series, Big Red, Misty of Chincoteague, Bambi, Wild Animals I Have Known, the Call of the Wild and so forth. Our little town library had a wonderful collection of old classics (I was 12 before I saw a new book added to the place, LOL) and I was definitely their most devoted patron. I read David Copperfield, Frankenstein and the Count of Monte Cristo, all unabridged, by the time I was 10! Books have played a HUGE role in my life. Good thing I was a “tomboy” and balanced all that reading with falling out of trees and catching frogs!

    1. Yay, Dani! Another Limberlost fan. Of course I remember The Famous Five. George and Timmy, the dog :) I know Anna Campbell is a big fan of them, too.

  10. Holly Senecal says:

    Love this blog. 3 of Mirandas favortie books are also on my list of favorite childhood books. Two of them my mother shared with me, Littel Women and The Girl of The Limberlost. My 5th grade teacher (a wonderful lady) Mrs. McGarry gave me Anne of Green Gables as a gift at the end of the school year and I was lost in it immediately. Anne of Green Gables is still one of my favorites. Years ago, as a young-ish teenager my Dad and stepmother took me to Prince Edward Island. What a magical experience standing where the author lived and the story was based… Will never forget it!

    1. Holly Senecal says:

      another ABSOLUTE favorite that my boys and I have read outloud at bedtime many many times is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl…I still love that book and am very partial to the movie version with Gene Wilder.

      1. So glad to know you’re a fan of A Girl of the Limberlost, Holly. I envy you visiting Prince Edward Island. I always wanted to go but haven’t got closer than Nova Scotia. I love visiting places I know from books.

        I never read Roald Dahl as a kid, but loved reading him to my daughter. Loved Charlie, but I think The BFG may be my favorite.

  11. Amy Valentini says:

    Miranda,
    Congratulations on the imminent release of your new book. I’ve read the excerpt and can’t wait to get my copy. [doing happy dance in anticipation]
    I love your book list. My favorite book when I was about 10 yrs old was TREE WAGON by Evelyn Sibley Lampman. It was so different from anything else I’d read and had a sense of danger and excitement.
    LITTLE WOMEN was right up there with TREE WAGON and I even love the movie versions. As for Team Amy – I have to say I might be a member. I really saw myself more as Meg but always secretly wanted to be Amy. As the oldest of 3 girls, I was always expected to be the responsible and sensible one whereas I was really more like Jo, wild and impestuous on the inside and screaming to get out. But it was Amy that I wanted to be like. Yes, she was spoiled, conceited and rather obnoxious but who made her that way? Everyone, especially Jo, spoiled her rotten and contributed to her selfish personality. Amy set her sites on what she wanted and got it regardless of who she had to step on to get there. You’ve got to admire drive like that .. I do and still wish that I could be that selfish and stop worrying about how it might affect someone else. Yep, I’m Team Amy!! Besides, we share the same name. Again, Congrats Miranda!

    1. How can you not be on Team Amy, Amy?

      I’m not familiar with Tree Wagon but I just looked it up and it sounds great. I’m fascinated by the hardships pioneers put up with. They had so much courage.

  12. catslady says:

    Little Women is the only book I’ve read from your list and I think it’s time I reread it because it’s all become very vague (it’s been a very, very long time lol) but I do remember loving it! I’ve read other books by Elizabeth Goudge and loved them so I will put this on my list. And somehow I haven’t read Anne of Green Gables and don’t know how that happened lol. Your book sounds wonderful and happy almost release day!

    1. OMG, run and get Anne of GG, at once! It’s so wonderful. I think I read a couple of Goudge’s adult novels, but a long time ago. I’ll have to check the library for them.

  13. Jeanne Miro says:

    Miranda,

    My favorite book to read and re-read was Little Women. I’m the youngest of three girls and Little Women was the first book I read that actually finally had a character I could personally identify with in Amy. Since I was the youngest I also was the most independent. I saw in Amy something I hadn’t before seen in myself. In a child’s eyes older siblings are always more proficient and secure in their position in the family. Identifying with Amy helped me to realize that I had to become my own person. I am the sister now who even though younger the others turn to for strength and support.

    After reading Little Women I spent many hours at our small village library reading every Nancy Drew mysteries the had in the library.

    Now my favorite genre is historical romance and since my husband loves reading books about history it leads to many interesting discussions.

    I can’t wait to read The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton. You always draw me into the story and whenever I bring home one of your books my husband knows it’s going to be a left-over week-end!

    1. Welcome to Team Amy, Jeanne! Good to hear you share a love of history with your husband, and send him my apologies for the leftovers! On second thought, don’t. I think food always tastes best the second time around :)

  14. Barbara Britton says:

    Hi Miranda,

    Congratulations on your new release. I agree that Beth missed the boat turning down Laurie. I enjoyed “The Secret Garden” with its multi-class characters and “Where The Red Fern Grows” (sob, sob). I am a sucker for books about loving animals.

    1. I never even heard of Where the Red Fern Grows. Had to Google it. As Mia said of horses, there’s a great appeal about animal books for kids. (And adults, come to think of it)

      1. Mia Marlowe says:

        Oh, my girls and I boohooed through the end of Where the Red Fern Grows. Why do dogs always have to die in literature?

  15. Janga says:

    I loved The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton from the title to the final word.

    Love your list too, Miranda, although I’m on team Jo myself and among the minority that thought she made the right romantic choice. I admit I do like to think of her professor as looking like Gabriel Byrne.

    I would add Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books to your list. I started reading the first ones at 5 and read–and reread–the last six throughout my teens. I still have copies on a keeper shelf.

    1. Jo certainly thought she made the right choice, and ended up happy! I can understand that Laurie was just too good a friend for her to think of as a lover: friends-to-lovers doesn’t always work. It must be getting on for 20 years since I last read LW – I must go back & see if my feelings have changed. I often find they have about favorite books as I get older.

      Never read Betsy-Tacy. Since I grew up in England I only had American books that were popular there – and as you can tell from my list there were lots. I didn’t even mention Laura Ingalls Wilder, whom I devoured.

  16. I recognize all those titles, Miranda, and I’ve read Little Women, of course, but I must confess, I was not a reader early-on in my life. Nope, I was out climbing trees, riding a bike or a horse, playing kick the can or hide ‘n’ seek, and of course, cowboys and Indians. :) Alas, I missed a lot, though I try to make up for it these days since I burn through 2 to 5 books a week.

    I wishe you the best with your release.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      My mom was a firm believer in fresh air for kids so we spent all our time outdoors too. But I was a “closet” reader. I’d sneak books into bed and read by the light shafting through the crack of my bedroom door. When I got older, I volunteered to take the bedroom in the creepy basement so I could have a light on without my parents’ knowledge. As the Proverb says, “Bread eaten in secret is sweet.”

    2. 2-5 books a week will do a lot of catching up!

      I hate to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but TV and computers suck away a lot time kids used to spend reading (and climbing trees etc.!). We only had one TV channel so reading was pretty much the only indoor amusement.

      1. Holly Senecal says:

        I totally agree. We even encourage the kids to take their books outside in the tree house or on the porch &/or grass so they get fresh air and read at the same time :)

  17. Amelia Grey says:

    Congratulations on the new book, Miranda! I’m stopping by to wish you tons of more success!
    Amelia

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Amelia. I posted the winners from your blog visit and dropped an email to each of them. Hope to hear from them soon with snailmail info.

    2. Thank you so much, Amelia.

  18. The only one of these I remember reading is Ballet Shoes… and some of the other Shoes books, all of which I loved. (I probably read Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, but obviously they didn’t stick with me…). One of my favorite early reads — and favorites of all time — is another L.M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I bet you missed both LW and A of GG. I can’t imagine those characters not sticking with you. I didn’t discover Anne Shirley till my girls were old enough to read her aloud with me. I’m so glad I was able to share her with them. How we wept together when Matthew died.

    2. I loved the Shoe books, Barbara, though I knew them by different titles in England. White Boots/Skating Shoes was wonderful. I don’t know what the title was in the US, but The Painted Garden was also great. A grumpy English girl visiting California is “discovered” and plays the role of Mary is a movie of The Secret Garden. Her own development parallels that of the Burnett book. Pauline and Posy Fossil from Ballet Shoes make an appearance.

      I never read any Montgomery aside from the Anne series.

  19. kelly says:

    I also loved Little Women. I also liked Black Beauty but my all time favorite had to be Man O War. Looking forward to Miranda’s new release.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I think every girl goes through a period of time before she discovers boys when she falls in love with horses. Black Beauty touched me so, along with My Friend Flicka.

      1. I never read Man O War but I loved Black Beauty. That’s a ten handkerchief read! Another horse book I loved was The Silver Brumby. I don’t remember the author but it was about Australian wild horses.

  20. I have my nook all fired up waiting to get Celia, so don’t enter me!

    I stumbled upon Moonacre recently on Amazon Instant Video. It starred Ioan Gruffudd, my embarrassing obsession (I think he’s my son’s age)and found it to be visually delightful. Have not read the Goudge book, though, or the others save Little Women.

    Loved it. Read it in 3rd or 4th grade for the first time, so some of the vocabulary and nuances were over my head.As an only child, I wanted to be a March girl (but not dead Beth,LOL.)With my first name of Margaret, Meg started off as my favorite, but the idea of twins totally freaked me out!

    1. Hi Maggie! Isn’t it interesting how we take Little Women personally. There’s something about it that speaks to every girl.

      I was severely disappointed with the Moonacre movie. I agree the visuals were great, but the filmakers really messed up the story. And you know how one hates it when the screenwriters change a favorite book! Read The Little White Horse: I think you’d enjoy it.

      Hope you enjoy Celia, too!

  21. ClaudiaGC says:

    Hi Miranda!
    Congratulations on your new book and good luck with it! The title has me already smiling. :)
    As I’m from Germany, I don’t know any of the books you mentioned except Little Women (which I know only as a film I have seen hundreds of times *g*) and Anne of Green Gables. As a child, I loved to read Astrid Lindgren’s books like Pippi Longstocking or Emil of Lönneberga as well as books from Erich Kästner, a very popular children’s author in Germany.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I remember Pippi! What fun.

      1. I remember Pippi, too. Also read Erich Kästner. Emil and the Detectives, but especially Lottie and Lisa, from which the movies The Parent Trap were made. The book was so much better – in fact it might have made this list but I didn’t think of it. The twins switch places after summer camp and poor spoiled Lisa has to learn to cook while her mother is at work. So funny. The way each child managed to fix some of the things her sister couldn’t manage in her own life was brilliant.

  22. Marcy W says:

    First, congratulations on the publication of “Amorous Education” … it sounds really fun (just read the blurb on amazon.com).
    Second, thanks for your list of favorites. “Ballet Shoes” didn’t ring a bell till I read “GUM”, and it all came rushing back! I loved that book. But, your fifth is my #1. I’ve read “Little Women” at least a dozen times in my life, and still cry when Beth dies! Afraid I’m not on Team Amy … as an ‘oldest’, I see her as a spoiled baby — although I’ll grant you she grew up pretty well. I don’t think I had a favorite, but resonated with different sisters at different times.
    Darn, if I weren’t deeply into Deanna Raybourn’s “The Dark Enquiry”, I’d go get my worn copy of LW, and read it again! Thanks for the memories, and for future ones, too! :-)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      I felt the same way about Amy. My horror over her destruction of Jo’s manuscript was only slightly mitigated by her brush with death on the frozen pond. But she learned to think of others when she grew up, taking care of old Aunt March and out of all the girls, she did win the husband lottery, IMO.

      1. Oh I know, Amy was a horrible brat. But children often do horrible things and, as Marcy and Mia say, she grew up well. I just felt for her knowing what it’s like to have three older sisters (although she was at least spared the younger brother LOL).

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