My earliest childhood memory is linked to a book when mum caught me, at the age of 4, reading aloud my favourite bedtime story "The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me". As each year passed my appetite for books kept growing (if only we could say the same about my height). Before hitting double figures, the main reason for getting told off was using my glow worm to read after bedtime. What. A. Rebel.
Bottom line - I have always been and will always be an avid reader. Even when I'm walking around Paris, I like to listen to book-related stuff. My go-to podcast is "The Books That Built Me", a series of live literary salons hosted by Helen Brocklebank, where authors discuss 6 of their favourite books. Discover below 5 of my favourite books (female authors only) that have accompanied me from my teenage years onwards.
By all accounts, Agathe Christie was an optimistic individual who led a relatively happy life. AND YET she wrote such spine-tingling murder mysteries! Much darker than a Miss. Marple or Poirot book, ATTWN finds 10 strangers invited to a remote island on the English Coast. Stranded, due to bad weather, they soon discover that a murderer is in their company as they start being taken out one by one. But what are their crimes? The book raises interesting questions about guilt and justice, and keeps you guessing until the very last page. The BBC did a great adaptation in 2015 that is worth watching.
I will never find the effortless way in which Nancy Mitford delivers her witty lines anything less than remarkable. Pigeon Pie introduces us to lazy aristocrat Sophia Garfield and her wealthy group of pals. As Britain grapples with the outbreak of a war, Sophia's biggest concern is how to become a successful spy. Completely oblivious to the goings-on surrounding her, Sophia ends up getting much more than she bargained for. A great satire on the upper classes that suffered somewhat from bad timing (it was written in 1939 and published in 1940 when war was no laughing matter at all).
Favourite character? Definitely Olga. Favourite bit? The paragraph about how countries picked allies at the beginning of Chapter 3.
I first read this macabre tale as a teenager - before I'd grasped the concept of an unreliable narrator. I thought Rachel was a "wrong 'un" as I experienced her through the misogynistic eyes of Philip Ashley . Re-reading the book as an adult, it's now clear to me how little experience Philip had with women and how understandably jaded Cousin Rachel was, most likely due to her treatment at the hands of various men throughout her life. Whether she was a master manipulator or not, Philip's ultimate action proves to be unbearably cruel. The lush backdrop of the Cornish coast only adds to the drama and mystery of this classic.
Set in 1922, this charming fairytale unites four British women - from very different backgrounds - who are looking to escape their less than satisfactory lives. Responding to a newspaper ad that promises sunshine, the 4 strangers find themselves staying in a medieval Italian castle for a month. I remember being struck most by the effect of travel upon these women by the time they reach the end of the book. The lush Italian landscape is so beautifully described that you'll want to put the book down and buy some plane tickets. Also to be found: the petty tensions that we so often find in friendships with other women before everything comes together for a heart-warming ending.
A Christmas present from a dear friend, this is the most recent book to leave its mark on yours truly. Adapted from Chimamanda's TED talk of the same name, this persuasive text describes the author's personal experience with sexism whilst growing up in Nigeria. Whether you're new to feminism or an old hand, this book is a worthwhile addition to your shelf. A short but insightful read, it would make a great present for teenage relatives, young adults and all of the men in your life!
Admittedly, this is not a very diverse list when it comes to authors. This is something I am looking to correct in 2018 and would absolutely love your suggestions. Currently on my 2018 reading list: Americanah - Crazy Rich Asians - Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race - Lullaby.