A few days ago I had the unexpected pleasure of being invited onto BBC Radio Wiltshire’s Afternoon Show to share my lockdown recommendations for a music track, a book and a recipe. Choosing a music track took me on a trip down memory lane and I settled for Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Get it Right Next Time’. In addition, my recipe for Eton Mess was easy, unfussy and perfect for sitting in the garden on a sunny day. The book choice was much harder. One book? Impossible! As a writer and avid reader I have an eclectic taste: thrillers, crime, memoir, historical, humour, contemporary fiction, and non-fiction. In the end, radio host James Thomas kindly allowed me three books.
First up was My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith. A prolific writer, McCall Smith is well-known for the popular series such as The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, the 44, Scotland Street novels and Corduroy Mansions.
My Italian Bulldozer, however, is a stand-alone novel and my reasons for choosing it are simple: it is witty, gentle, light-hearted but moving. Mc Call Smith is an astute chronicler of human behaviour and his observations, plus the beautiful descriptions of the Tuscan countryside, are the perfect lockdown distraction from the world beyond the garden.
Last year I read Sally Rooney’s Normal People, a contemporary love story brimming with conflict, angst and the complexities of human relationships. The recent screen adaptation, which has been very well received, has prompted me to read the book a second time, perhaps to unpick further the intricacies of Marianne and Connell’s relationship, but also to analyse and observe Rooney’s unique writing style.
Thirdly the author John Boyne had to be on my list. I loved reading A Ladder to the Sky, his story of Maurice Swift, the chilling plagiarist, which shocked and entertained me in equal measure, and I have just finished reading The Heart’s Invisible Furies about growing up in Ireland in the 1950’s/60’s. Boyne has the ability to make me laugh and cry within the course of several chapters and this book was no exception.
I could have chosen many, many more books but I hope some of these suggestions are helpful, and serve to soothe and distract us as we attempt to navigate our current unsettled global circumstances.
Finally, it would be churlish of me to recommend my own book, but if you are looking for a page-turning medical psychological thriller with multiple twists and turns, my readers tell me that Love Until it Hurts might fit the bill!
Stay safe and happy reading!