Joanne Harris has long been a favourite writer of mine. One of the only authors whose books I often reread, her Chocolat books are all flawless tales of hedonism, whimsy, and, of course, chocolate; and I’ve read and adored every single one of her books, from the gothic Sleep Pale Sister to the magical realism of Blackberry Wine. Her novels are evocative, atmospheric and oh-so-beautifully written and it is thus that with great honour I welcome her to my Desert Island Books series. As a quote on one of her books once said: ‘If Joanne Harris didn’t exist, someone would have to invent her’ – and I couldn’t agree more!
Myths of the Norsemen by H.A. Guerber
Out of print even when I first read it, this was one of the great influences of my childhood. A compendium of Scandinavian and Icelandic myths, from which arose my lifelong fascination for old Norse mythology, language and culture.
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Dense, ominous, strange and compelling, Peake’s masterwork defies categorization, and continues to offer new insights and perspectives at every re-reading.
R is for Rocket by Ray Bradbury
A vibrant and wonderful short story collection from one of the 20th century’s great masters of the art. Bradbury’s prose is magical; evocative, crisp and filled with unabashed joie-de-vivre.
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
One of the great passions of my adolescence, by the author that ruined Dickens for me forever; a massive, breathtaking novel, thrilling but literary, perfectly poised between epic and melodrama.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The book that taught me that language, correctly used, can evoke any sensation, create any emotion. Perfect voodoo on the page.
The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
One of my perennial comfort reads. After all these years in print, still as surprisingly witty and fresh as a Noel Coward musical.
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
The bleakest of Westerns, written in the darkest, most thundering Biblical prose. I love it.
Perfumes, the Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
Articles, history and perfume reviews ranging from the elegiac to the hilariously scathing. Bitchier than Joan Collins; cleverer than Stephen Fry.
Joanne’s newest novel, A Pocketful of Crows, is available now.