Authors on the Beach - Santa Montefiore
18th July 2016
Whether you’re an avid year-round reader or only ever read when you’re on holiday, the choice of which books to take with you is often the hardest part of the packing. Over the next week or so we'll be sharing some of our favourite authors’ recommendations. Today it's the turn of Santa Montefiore.
For me a holiday is not a holiday without a suitcase full of good books.
Here are my recommendations. Three of my most favourite books ever.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Oh my goodness this is a beautiful novel. Based in America’s Deep South in the nineteenth century, this is a powerful and moving story of friendship. On Sarah Grimké’s eleventh birthday her mother gifts her an eleven-year-old slave, wrapped in ribbons. As I write this review the hairs are standing up on my arms and a shiver is rippling over my skin. This novel will make you cry: with happiness, outrage, shock and admiration, because Monk Kidd has such a gift for words. If you love this one you’ll also love another of hers called The Secret Life of Bees.
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
I have read this about three times and it never fails to entertain me. Set in London between the wars and in Italy, this story will warm you right down to your toes. An advert is placed in The Times for a small medieval castle to rent for the month of April and four women take up the offer. They are all very different. Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arbuthnot are both running from husbands who don’t appreciate them. Lady Caroline, a society beauty, is tired of being pursued by love-struck men and Mrs Fisher is old and imperious and so obsessed with the famous people she encountered in her childhood that she is unable to appreciate the present. But the sensuality of beautiful Italy, the warmth of the sun, the smell of rosemary and the Mediterranean Sea do magical things to them all. They are transformed and what happens is just delightful. I love von Arnim’s tone. She’s witty, arch and compassionate. This is one of my most favourite books and you will adore it!
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
This book has the best plot, I think, of any book I have ever read. I did not foresee the twists, and felt as if someone had punched me in the stomach when they came. Set in Victorian England, it’s the story of two women. One is an orphan whose mother is hanged for murder and who’s brought up among thieves in London, and the other is a lady who lives in the countryside, in a gothic mansion, with her weird uncle. She’s a prisoner in that creepy house but also the heiress of a great fortune. The fates of these two women are linked and you cannot imagine, not in your wildest dreams, how the story will unfold. Trust me on this one, it’s brilliant!
Santa Montefiore's recent novels include Songs of Love and War and the newly published Daughters of Castle Deverill.
Elizabeth von Arnim