Buy May We Be Forgiven from Bookshop.org, Book Depository or Waterstones.
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Buy On Writing from Bookshop.org, Book Depository or Waterstones.
Brother of the More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido
Another series I discovered sometime in the eighties, and plunged headfirst into the quirky characters and tales of life in San Francisco at its’ heady best. Because it was originally written as a newspaper column, it has a propulsive quality that makes it hard to put down. I followed the characters throughout all of the books, dreaming of one day living in San Francisco, with rickety wooden steps that might lead to a secret garden strung with lights and the odd marijuana bush. Heaven.
This was the first serious book I fell in love with. I was always a reader, but this was our first school assignment when I was about eleven, and I remember racing ahead in the classroom, heart pounding as young Pip encountered Magwitch, entranced by the spidery Miss Havisham, with the cold, compelling Estella. It is a timeless, brilliant story, and each time I go back to it, it brings back happy memories of a childhood lost in books.
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
Jane Green has been one of my favourite authors for as long as I can remember. She is my go-to for an uplifting read, and the ultimate in escapist fiction. I’ve been reading – and recommending – her books for almost two decades, and I’ve read every single one of her books – some of them many times over.
Buy Great Expectations from Bookshop.org, Book Depository or Waterstones.
Bilgewater by Jane Gardam
It’s hard to choose a more contemporary novel as a desert island, but anything by A.M.Homes would have to come, and this was my first, and remains my favorite of hers. Funny, ridiculous, this made me instantly fall in love with A.M.Homes’s writing, and her themes of people finding family in the most unexpected of places.
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On Writing Stephen King
I have been meaning to re-read this for years, and being on a desert island would give me no excuse. It is profoundly simply, and clever. An excellent guide for anyone starting out, or indeed continuing after a long career. I found the advice eminently practical, and wise. And who better than Stephen King to advise on writing stories?
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Buy Sister Stardust from Bookshop.org or Book Depository.
May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes
I first read this in 1982. I was fourteen years old, an awkward teenager who didn’t fit in, who plunged headfirst into the chaotic, loving embrace of the Goldman family. I lived in Hampstead, where the fictitious family lived, and I dreamed of one day living as they did, with an open house, an open heart, and open arms. The dialogue delighted me, and it is a book I continue to read every couple of years, to revisit old and beloved friends.
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