Elle Croft is a blogger I’ve followed for a long time; her blog A Bird in the Hand is a stylish guide to London and beyond and offers her readers the perfect fusion of lifestyle, travel and blogging bits. She’s recently achieved what remains a pipe-dream for many other bloggers, in writing and publishing a debut novel. The Guilty Wife is a gripping tale of betrayal, deceit, and duplicity that’s out now in paperback and will no doubt gain Elle a legion of fans from beyond her fabulous blog. Read on to find out which eight books would make the cut for her desert island picks – from the tale that made her fall in love with psychological thrillers to some well-loved classics.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Anything by Austen, really, but Persuasion is a personal favourite. It’s a brilliant look at society at the time (and there are, of course, parallels with society today), and there’s so much subtly dry humour throughout it that I find myself laughing out loud every time I read it. Although it’s two hundred years old, it’s still wholly relatable even today, and the perfect companion on a deserted island.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Flynn’s Gone Girl was one of the first psychological thrillers I ever read, and it was one of the key books that made me fall in love with the genre. However, of her three novels, Dark Places is definitely my favourite, and one I could (and do) read multiple times without it losing its impact. The writing is dark and disturbing, and the plot keeps you guessing right until the very end. The story revolves around Libby Day, a young woman whose family was butchered by her brother when she was just a child. She was a witness, and is convinced that her brother was the one who did it, but there are people out there who disagree. It’s a brilliant premise and an even better story!
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
A beautiful tale that spans from World War I to present day (or thereabouts), Birdsong is a depiction of love and war. I was absolutely absorbed as soon as I began reading, and it just kept getting better as I turned the pages. It’s at times uplifting, at times heartbreaking, and powerful throughout. Definitely an epic read, and one that’s haunted me for years.
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but Daring Greatly was recommended to me by so many people that I absolutely had to give it a go, and I’m so glad I did. Brené Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher, which I didn’t know was a real thing until I picked up this book. Through years of research, Brené Brown has defined what shame is and how it affects our lives, and she offers tips on how to build shame resilience. It’s honestly changed the way I live, and definitely the way I approach writing, and it’s a book I plan on reading at least once a year to keep reminding myself to dare greatly.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
This has been my favourite book for ages, simply because it stuck with me for so many years after I read it. It’s set in the Belgian Congo, which is where my Mum was born, and my curiosity about a destination I’ve never seen with my own eyes helped me to fall in love with this story. The Poisonwood Bible follows a missionary family as they move to a small African village from the state of Georgia, and their struggles and triumphs as they adjust to their new exotic, and often dangerous, home. It’s beautifully written, bittersweet and will linger with you for years after you’ve turned the final page.
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
I found this on my Dad’s bookshelf years ago – it was a well-worn copy, sun-faded and bent along the spine, so I figured it had been well-loved. Once I picked it up, I totally understood why. It’s set in South Africa, which made me like it immediately, as that’s where I was born, and it follows the life of a child nicknamed Peekay throughout the 1930s and 40s. Set against the background of the Boer War, World War II and Apartheid, young Peekay experiences his own turmoil at boarding school, and later, during his blossoming boxing career. I could read this one again and again (just like my Dad did before I got my hands on it)!
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Confession: I haven’t actually read this one! It’s been on my reading list basically forever, but I never seem to have the time to just sit down and enjoy it. Maybe being stranded on a desert island would be the perfect opportunity to finally get through this classic!
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