As well as being a jolly fine author herself, Fanny Blake is Books Editor of Woman & Home Magazine. Who better to ask for a few Summer reading recommendations?
With A Friend Like You, Fanny’s brilliantly entertaining tale of two best friends at war, is out in paperback, ebook and audio on 13th August. Start reading now.
I have so many favourite holiday reads that I can never chose a definite list. It just keeps on growing and changing. So here’s my latest…
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
We were on holiday in Cornwall, three families together, and it seemed to rain all the time. The children were disappointed and getting bored with indoor games or wet walks. By the evening all the adults were frazzled and barely able to speak. I picked up Bridget Jones’s Diary with no expectations. I hadn’t heard about the novel – I think it had only just been published – but it had me from the first page. I was laughing out loud and reading bits out to the others (Is there anything more irritating? But I couldn’t help myself). After that we passed the novel around between us – alcohol units, cigarettes and calories – how we identified. And how much more we enjoyed our holiday because of Ms Jones.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
If I’m travelling abroad, I like to read something about the country I’m visiting if possible. I was travelling round India’s Rajasthan and took this with me on the recommendation of a friend. I hadn’t read Mistry before but after reading this, I rushed to find his other books. This one is set in India during the 1970s Emergency. Widowed Mrs Dina Dalal is determined to keep her independence by taking a lodger and two Hindu tailors into her tiny apartment. Through the shocking turns their lives take, a rivetting if sometimes grim portrait of India emerges. I was completely gripped and recommend it to anyone going there.
The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
My first husband and I had just separated so I went to Formentera, a little-known (in those days) island near Ibiza, to lick my wounds. I stayed with friends who went to work during the day, leaving me to the beach and my books. I needed a page-turner and found it in this ground-breaking, life-changing novel. I haven’t read it since so have no idea whether I would find it as inspirational as I did then, but this story of a woman’s life was like a clarion call. It’s an angry, crusading and controversial (when I read it, certainly) novel about a woman, Mira, who’s stuck in a 1950s suburban marriage and who fights to find her voice in society.
I needed a page-turner and found it in this ground-breaking, life-changing novel . . . this story of a woman’s life was like a clarion call.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
We were staying with friends for a few days in Norfolk. The first morning we were there I woke up early and snuck downstairs with this brick of a novel. I’d read Tartt’s other novels but wasn’t sure what to expect of this. The opening section knocked me for six. Once the bomb had exploded in New York’s Metropolitan Museum, leaving 13-year-old Theo Decker orphaned and the possessor of a painting of a goldfinch, I was under the book’s spell. I would return to it at every opportunity and had to be prised away to go on walks when all I wanted to do was go on to the next stage of Theo’s journey through life.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
If I’m on a plane or long train journey, I want a book that will grip me so thoroughly that I don’t notice what’s going on round me at all. For this I usually turn to crime novels or psychological thrillers. Having read Gone Girl, I was curious to see what Flynn’s earlier fiction was like. This story of Libby Day, lone survivor of a massacre that wiped out her mother and sisters scared the bejaysus out of me. Years later, with her brother imprisoned for the murder, Libby is contacted by the ‘kill club’ who believe he is innocent. Tense, graphic and brilliantly crafted, this got me from Gatwick to Pisa without my having to look up.
Fanny Blake’s With A Friend Like You is out in paperback, ebook and audio on 13th August. Start reading now . . .