3 April 2014
Blog Tour: Jane Fallon's Desert Island Reads
Desert Island Books
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
I have read this book so many times but it never fails to engage me. Even though Capote is basically recounting a true story he writes as if it’s fiction. His style is so intimate and relaxed. He takes what is essentially a rather grizzly tale of a multiple murder and makes it into a study of a whole small town, an intimate portrayal of the lives of both the victims and the killers.
Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
One of the best evocations of the greed and excesses of the 80s I have ever read. The scale of the story is so epic I always find new moments that I missed last time round. Politics, self obsession, classism, racism, suffocating all encompassing ambition – what more do you want? And New York as well, of course. I love reading books set in New York. It’s my second home and I miss it terribly when I’m not there. Of course, the New York of the 1980s was a very different place. I’m not so sure I would have wanted to live there.
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Again for the reason that you can read it over and over and still find something new. If I could I would take all of Dickens (maybe in a very large compendium?) but, if that’s not allowed I would pick Bleak House for its breadth and scale. It’s also slightly impenetrable in places so I could pass the time trying to fathom out what was going on. I studied it for A Level and I swear even my teacher wasn’t quite sure what was happening with Jarndyce v Jarndyce all the time.
Puffball by Fay Weldon
In one way a bit of a waste of a desert island book because it’s so short but this has huge sentimental attachment for me. I first read it when I was a teenager and it had a really profound effect on the way I thought about writing. I couldn’t believe you could write in this contemporary colloquial way, as if you were just telling a story. I had never really been exposed to anything like that before. All my influences up till that point were the classics – some of them no doubt colloquial in style at the time, but not to a teenager in the late 20th century. I had a Saturday job in a bookshop at the time, and I went back and read all her previous novels one after the other.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
I’m a huge Bronte fan (apart from Wuthering Heights. Don’t get me started on Wuthering Heights) and this one has always stood out to me as my favourite. The story of a woman trying to make a life for herself after her marriage to a violent drunken husband must have been shocking at the time. It has been described as one of the first feminist novels and I always feel it doesn’t quite get the recognition it deserves.
Skeletons by Jane Fallon is published by Michael Joseph £7.99
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Thanks so much, Jane!