Joanne from Portobello Book Blog
It’s always hard to pick a favourite book when you’re an avid reader but one that has made a big impression on me is Birdsong by Sabastian Faulks. It’s not a perfect book – I don’t particularly like the contemporary ending – but there is so much in it which spoke to me. I have since watched the TV adaptation which, much though I like Eddie Redmayne, I felt did not capture the passion between Stephen and Isobel. I saw a stage adaptation earlier this year which I thought was excellent. But it is the book which stays with me. I think I just read it at the right time.
When I read it, I had been doing a lot of family history research including into relatives who had fought and died in WW1. As much of the book is set in northern France where I had holidayed and where I knew my ancestors had fought, I had a sense of familiarity with the settings. The way the horrors of the war were so vividly described made me feel I had a better understanding of what my ancestors and so many others had gone through. As the attraction between Stephen and Isobel grows in the first section of the book, Sebastian Faulks creates tension as the anticipation builds. When they eventually get together, it is beautifully and sensuously told. Stephen’s feelings throughout the book are movingly portrayed and I felt I could really understand the emotions he experienced.
There is a quote in the book which moved me a lot, so much that I noted down at the time. To me, it must sum up what so many of the men and women who fought in the war must have felt.
“When it is over, we will go quietly among the living and we will not tell them. We will talk and sleep and go about our business like human beings. We will seal what we have seen in the silence of our hearts and no words will reach us.”
A poetic and poignant novel, a modern classic which I love.
Kim Nash, Publicity Manager at Bookouture and reviewer at Kim the Bookworm
A book that changed my life and is therefore my favourite was A Spring Affair by Milly Johnson. While reading it, around 5 years ago, I spent most of the book saying “OMG that’s me!”. The main character really resonated with me. She read an article about clutter and started to clear out her house, but then realised that it was her life she was unhappy with and not her house and she started to make some massive changes. I too realised through reading this book, that at the time I was so similar to the main character and was desperately unhappy in a life where I did everything to please others and did nothing for me.
I emailed the author, as she had an email address and I really felt that this book had a major impact on me and I ordered all her other books she wrote back and she asked me to keep in touch. I did and she asked me if I’d like to become a advanced reader. I didn’t even know that this was something that existed but was overjoyed! I decided to set up a blog, with Milly’s encouragement - there weren’t that many around at that time and it went from strength to strength. Being a book blogger has completely changed my life. I’ve met so many of my favourite authors over the years and have the pleasure of calling many of them friends. I now work for Bookouture as their publicity and social media manager and think I have the best job in the world! I am truly blessed! And I owe it all to the fabulous Milly Johnson.
Louise Beech, author of How to Be Brave
When I was nine and read Heidi while my mum was very ill in the hospital and we had gone away to stay with my grandma, the story of the little girl also sent away to the Swiss Alps really helped me through it. I’ve never forgotten the description of the fiery mountain peaks at dawn, her bed in the hayloft, and how she coped with being an orphan. I knew absolutely then that I also wanted to write books that uplifted readers, explored human survival, and were remembered long after the last page had been closed.