The book I’m currently reading
The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner. It’s a long, dense book about medieval nuns. What’s not to like? It’s witty, knowledgeable, and gently on the side of women and their lot.
The book that changed my life
The Rainbow by DH Lawrence. I read it for A-level English and found it electrifying. Lawrence has fallen out of favour; however, his time will come again.
The book I wish I’d written
James Salter’s Light Years. A story about a marriage between two people who imagine themselves to be a little more special than they probably are. Innovative, sensual. Also, that rare thing: a wise book.
The most underrated book
I still feel Penelope Fitzgerald is a hugely underprized writer. I don’t know why. I think she was of that generation who thought “publicity” was suspect – poor form.
A book that made me cry
Beryl Bainbridge’s The Birthday Boys, a novel about Captain Scott’s expedition to the south pole.
A book that made me laugh
A couple of years ago I read PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories to my daughter. Some were clearly done in a hurry, but the good ones had us in fits.
The book I give as a gift
Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Beginning of Spring. And Tarjei Vesaas’s The Ice Palace. Vesaas, a Norwegian writer who died in 1970, was my big discovery of last year.