All authors are readers. All editors are readers. All publishers are readers. Right?
I’m an avid reader of fiction and in the last couple of years I’ve noticed some unusual trends in the novels.
I started thinking this way several years ago, in fact, with the theme of forgotten libraries and ancient libraries, beginning with the famous The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The visual idea of the idea of a cemetery of forgotten books, imprints on an authors mind, and several books of the same essence have since followed.
The next repeated theme I noticed was mermaids. An unusual one for adult novels. The first one I read was The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gower. A querky book, but enjoyable nevertheless. More recently The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey.
Much more recently the theme which made me sit up and think was adult literature but a link with fairy tales, for example on The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Coggan. There have been a couple of others I’ve read in the last year or so too.
And finally Trees which play a role in themselves and even ‘talk.’ The Island of the Missing Tree is a brilliant narrative set at the time of the partition in Cypress. Once I had finished the book I thought ‘ Wow! That’s a unique and precious book.’ …But … I am now towards the end of reading Still Life by Sarah Winman, an excellent novel set in Florence and London during and after WW2. It is a powerful novel; perfect for its time and for today too; would have been shocking had it been released last century. But …. there it is again. Trees play a role, both here in London and over in Italy. They speak too; as does the charming parrot but that’s another part of the story entirely. The Lord of the Rings springs to mind too.
In fact, speaking trees are in vogue at the moment in spiritual and mindfulness books, as well as environmental ones. Fascinating subject.
Now, there’s a thought. Maybe we’ll have a run on parrots playing and important role in novels in the near future. Who knows?
And so I ask my initial question. Are themes in novels unique? Do publishers spot these trends or are they pure coincidence? What do you think?