by Rose Tremain
This is about regret and how the main character, Merivel, loses the house he so loves. He’s a great character, joyful and a bit of a delinquent. We’re often told regret is a bad thing but it’s quite important because it reminds you how special some things are.
THE COMPLETE STORIES
by Truman Capote
I found these very powerful. One particular story about a child and a grandmother is beautifully observed. With short stories, the economy of words you need is a bit like writing a children’s picture book. I can’t bear the idea that I could never get to Capote’s level.
FRANNY AND ZOOEY
by JD Salinger
I love his use of language and he has an amazing way of observing human character and behaviour. What stayed with me particularly is Franny’s story of not being understood when you are a young woman. It is that feeling of confusion and conflict.
by Nora Ephron
I love all her books and how she talks about her life in fictionalised form. This is about her husband having an affair and it’s funny yet painful and she doesn’t put herself in a good light all the time either. She’s somebody I go back to when I’m feeling dismal.
THE PURSUIT OF LOVE
by Nancy Mitford
Both this and Love In A Cold Climate are very funny. You’re stepping into another world, between the wars. It makes me want to be there. They’re upper class and slightly bonkers but they still agonise about whether they’re happy or have married the wrong person. Mitford has such a beautiful turn of phrase.
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
by LM Montgomery
This is classed as a children’s book though I never think it is. Anne is an incredible character and I like her way of looking at life. You can see her as this rather romantic over-enthusiastic child but she burrows down to what’s important and you can learn a lot from her.