30 Books in 30 Days - Day 8: Series everyone should read
'The Suttons of Yorkshire' is an odd choice for me, as not only are these not the kind of books I usually read, but they are not books that would usually be seen as 'must reads' in the same way that perhaps Malorie Blackman's 'Noughts and Crosses' series is - they don't teach you anything, you don't see the world differently after reading them and there is no moral message to be found in them; they are just stories. They fall in the 'Saga' category, which always seemed to me to be for much older people. Indeed, I was first introduced to this series through one of my Mum or Grandma's weekly magazines - probably either People's Friend or Woman's Weekly, which were definitely not aimed at the average teenager. It was simply a case of needs must - I devoured anything readable in the house in those days and I'll Bring You Buttercups was serialised over the course of several weeks. I think because it was set just before, during and just after World War One, it captured my interest more than similar books set in a different time period would have done. Whatever the reason I started reading, once I had, I couldn't stop. As soon as I found out that it was an abridged version and that there were books that continued the story, I had to read them. That was a quarter of a century ago and in that time I must have done a complete series read at least four times. This may not sound like a lot, but there are relatively few books that I read more than once, let alone multiple times.
The books follow the fortunes of two branches of the Sutton family (the Garth Suttons and the Place Suttons) and their servants/friends Tom Dwerryhouse and Alice Hawthorn. Over the course of the five books we share their triumphs and tragedies and the storyline is gradually passed onto the next generation, who go through their own war in the 1940s. The final book brings the story to a close in the 1950s and here we find out what happens even to some of the minor characters. I think this is one reason I love the series so much - there are no loose ends left and we know the fates of all the characters we have come to care about.
These books are not high literature, but they are perfect examples of their genre and I credit them with making me far less snobby about the books I read (as a teenager I only read 'classic' literature!). I stopped worrying about whether the book was 'worthy' and only cared about whether or not I had enjoyed it. I've since read other books by the same author and loved them just as much, but these are the ones I keep coming back to and even writing this blog is making me want to read them all again!