As a huge fan of Sophia Bennett's, I'm super-excited to celebrate the publication this month of her brilliant Love Song (Chicken House) by having her take part in 5-4-3-2-1!
FIVE relationships I love reading about
• Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth in Persuasion. She’s famous for rejecting him. He’s snooty about her ‘lost bloom’. But the letter of abject adoration he writes her, when she’s watching him and assuming he’s writing to someone else, makes me shiver every time I read it. (Did I go on to marry an ex-naval officer? Oh yeah, I did.)
• Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, from Strong Poison. Clever Lord Peter, with his ‘long face’ and ‘sensitive hands’ and occasional PTSD from the trenches in the First World War, is my crush, and has been since I was at school. He falls in love with equally clever Harriet from the moment he sees her in the dock, accused of her lover’s murder. She is doomed to hang unless he can save her. I just love how complicate their affair is, even though they both love each other hopelessly. And Harriet is a successful lady detective novelist. Who could successful-lady-detective-novelist Dorothy Sayers could possibly have based her on?
• Bertie Wooster and Jeeves. My favourite bits are the quotes that Bertie starts off and Jeeves finishes for him, and the underlying niggles about Bertie’s wardrobe from the ultra-conservative Jeeves. When he (inevitably) saves the day, Bertie has to say goodbye to his soft-fronted evening shirts, or his natty new hat. Jeeves is such a slave driver.
• Bernadette and Bee in Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple. Bernadette is a genius architect, missing from her home in Seattle, and Bee is her 15-year old daughter, trying to find her. There’s a moment before Bernadette disappears where she and Bee sit in the car together, listening to a whole Beatles album, track by track. It’s how mothers and daughters should be. I love the bond they have.
• Eleanor and Park. Her hair, her decorated wrists, her refusal to be beaten by the world that seems to be against her. His inner strength, his persistence, his all-out love for her. That ending. Rainbow Rowell is a master and that is all.
FOUR authors I’d want with me if I was stranded on a desert island
• Andy Weir, who wrote The Martian. a) It’s one of the best books I’ve EVER READ. EVER. Totally thrilling from first page to last, and funny too. b) Matt Damon starred in the film, so we could talk about Matt Damon. Quite a lot. c) It’s a very well-researched, up to date book about extreme survival in difficult circumstances. We’d be totally fine.
• Matt Damon. He co-wrote Good Will Hunting with Ben Affleck and won an Oscar for the screenplay. That counts as being an author, right?
• Boccaccio and Chaucer. I’m cheating by having them together as a couple. Also by bringing them back to life. They’re both the BEST storytellers, with an endless fund of silly, rude, funny tales to tell. They’d be perfect around the campfire. (Built by Andy, obvs. See above.)
• JK Rowling. I know – she’s on everyone’s desert island. She probably lives there by now, has her own beach house and everything. She rocks. She owns Twitter. She invented Hermione Granger. She has a good sense of humour. We can admire Matt Damon together.
THREE items of swag I’d love to see made for my books
Totally into the swag. I was starting to think about the swag even while I was writing Threads (although funnily enough, I never thought about foreign translations, which is what actually happened).
• Pencil cases with Crow’s dancing girls on them from Threads
• Converse as customised by Nonie, with French swearwords, doodles and cartoon Kapow!s
• T-shirts saying ‘Love Is What Hearts Are For’ from Love Song. Hmmmmm: now I’ve said that I really want those.
TWO places I love to read
• The wide, sun-filled windowsill of a rambling country house
• The plane to New York
(Makes it sound like I do these all the time. I hardly ever do either – but when I do, oh boy.)
ONE song that sums up the last novel I wrote perfectly
• ‘I’m not in love’ by 10CC. Yeah, right. Just listen to the plaintive, whistful melody, guys. You so are.