Name the books that have had the most impact on you?
Shakespeare’s works – I’ve always loved Shakespeare from the first time I read his sonnets at school and the first play we studied, The Merchant of Venice. His powerful portrayal of characters and the universal and timeless truths of human relationships and all the qualities that make us human – good, bad and indifferent, is what draws me back time and again.
Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak – this epic tale of Russia at the turn of the twentieth century and spanning WW1, the Russian Revolution and the birth of the Soviet Union, has always stayed with me. A story of the fall of the wealthy upper class and the struggles within all levels of society as socialism took hold of Russia. Evocative of imperial Russia, its traditions, the sweeping landscapes and brutality of massive social change, and of course, the impossible love story between Yuri and Lara.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – a modern fairy tale, draws you into the sense of wonder and innocence of Meggie until she learns her father’s secret and the fantastical story of characters disappearing in and out of a book and into the modern world.
Noble House by James Clavell – a fast-paced, historically detailed, corporate thriller set against the backdrop of Hong Kong at the height of the Cold War and the collision and blending of the English and Chinese cultures. The characters were so detailed, authentic and beautifully written. It has it all – spies, criminals, espionage, gorgeous settings and fascinating characters. It was the first Clavell novel I ever read around the time my love of spy thrillers began – I loved Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, Ken Follett. I’ve read his other historical epics – Shogun, Tai-Pan, King Rat, Gai Jin and Whirlwind, and loved them too.