Guest Editor - Harriet Evans
In this special section devoted to our Guest Editor of the Month Harriet Evans discover more about her novels and find out first-hand from her the books that have left an indelible mark on her mind and inspired or influenced her writing.
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Harriet Evans is a Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling author of seven previous novels, including A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. She spent a number of years working in the publishing industry before becoming an author fulltime. She lives in London with her family. Author photo © Johnny Ring
Her latest novel, A Place for Us, is a big family drama and is possibly her best so far. It is out in paperback in January 2015. Find out more about the characters in the book by watching the videos from Harriet below.
Harriet Evans on...
Ooh, this book is so good. I’m saving it to reread for when I really need it. It is so absorbing, so sweeping, and yet it is also so intricate and beautifully written. It is a really important book I think and it should have won every prize going. (If it had been written by and about a man I bet it would have). Alice Blackwell is a quiet girl from the Midwest who happens to become First Lady and this is her story and if you haven’t read it, I envy you coming to it for the first time.
This is probably my favourite novel. It gives something new every time I reread it. At first it’s ‘just’ a story of a deliciously eccentric family living in a crumbling castle in a beautiful English village (and that’d be quite enough for me!) but it’s so much more than that. It’s about broken families, class, England before the war, and most importantly and daringly it’s about a young girl’s burgeoning sexuality.
I was in bed ill for a couple of days last month. As any Georgette Heyer fan knows illness is no bad thing because it means you can reread a Georgette Heyer. I reread Regency Buck and then Venetia and remembered again why Venetia is my favourite of hers. I have converted many to the church of Georgette. If you haven’t tried her, please give her a go. She’s so good and I think people who don’t know her think she’s soppy and she’s absolutely not. She is witty, elegant, gripping, gorgeously romantic, and this one is universally acknowledged to be her at her best.
This is one of those books that should have got a Richard and Judy or something to make sell a million copies but it was a bit too early for that. It’s miles better than the Kite Runner, I think, and it taught me so much. It’s set in 17th-century Iran and is about a young woman who becomes a rugmaker. That description doesn’t do it justice at all! It’s so fascinating, you completely believe you are there in the bazaars and courtyards of Isfahan.
I need a book that gives me a warm safe glow come winter and this is that book. It is genuinely hilarious. I don’t know anyone else who has quite the same turn of phrase, sharp and surreal at the same time. It’s a series of letters written by Nina Stibbe to her sister when she was a nanny for a family in North London in the Eighties. People like Alan Bennett pop round for tea and bring casseroles. The devil is all in the detail and it’s just wonderful, you can open any page on any letter and be smiling seconds later.
Click here to visit Harriet Evan's website.