A big welcome to Jessica Ruston, author of the fabulous LUXURY who tells us a little bit about her reading habits. Enjoy, and stay tuned as later this week we will be offering one lucky reader a SIGNED copy of Luxury!
My Bedside Table – Jessica Ruston
There’s always a mixture of fiction and non-fiction on there; books I’m reading for research or work, and books I’m reading for pleasure – which, luckily, for me, I can also call work – you’re in luck when your homework is reading Louise Bagshawe’s The Devil You Know or a classic Jeffrey Archer.
At the moment, my ‘reading’ book is The Group, by Mary McCarthy, which is a joy. It’s full of razor sharp observation and delicately nuanced social and class distinctions between a group of Vassar girls in 1930s New York, as they learn to negotiate relationships, politics, careers and families, fresh out of college. I’m loving it.
I sometimes manage to get my hands on proof copies of forthcoming novels, and I’ve just read Blake Morrison’s The Last Weekend which is just brilliant. Two couples spend a hot August bank holiday weekend together, and what happens during the weekend will change their lives forever. The events aren’t overly complex, but the way the story is told is what elevates the book into something really special – it’s beautifully restrained and elegantly written, and things are constantly shifting – the author holds back, and holds back, and then gives you just enough so that the landscape of the book changes as you read, and you never know quite whether you can trust what you are being told. I think it will be very well received indeed. Lined up are proofs of The Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson, and The Hand That First Held Mine, by Maggie O’Farrell, both sent by my lovely publishers.
I’m a cookbook addict, so there’s usually a one or two lurking somewhere around – currently it’s Marcus Wareing’s Nutmeg and Custard, and John Torode’s Beef, and frequently a biography of a chef or another titbit of foodie non-fiction. Complete comfort reading.
Then there are research books – I do a lot of reading around things when I’m pulling the story for a book together, and lots of reading into different subjects to get ideas and spark off new lines of thinking. Recently, while planning and writing my new novel, I’ve had White Heat: 1964-1970 by Dominic Sandbrook and Seventies: The Sights, Sounds and Ideas of a Brilliant Decade by Howard Sounes close to hand, and have been dipping into From A to Biba by Barbara Hulanicki as well. Travel books often come in handy – my guide to Capri has been useful, and I find visual images really helpful, so as this book spans more than four decades, Robert Opie’s scrapbooks have provided masses of inspiration, as has Stephen Jones’s Hats: An Anthology. That little lot should you a flavour of novel number two…