It’s been a while since I’ve come across a blog I love as much as Miranda’s Notebook. After first following her on Instagram (she has both a lifestyle and a Bookstagram account) I spent almost an entire afternoon when I was back in the UK reading through the archives of her blog – from a flower arranging workshop Miranda took part in at Artists Residence in the Cotswolds (where I was lucky enough to stay while back in the UK), to her review of Carbis Bay Hotel in Cornwall, that was featured in one of my very favourite books, Rosamund Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers. She also hosts a podcast called Tea and Tattle with her best friend Sophie, in which she chats with bestselling authors and discusses everything from the art of Lagom to her favourite magazines. I adore Miranda’s picture-perfect mix of lifestyle, travel, London-living and books and was thus delighted when she agreed to share her Desert Island Books picks with me. From an atmospheric tale by Daphne Du Maurier to the book she turns to when in need of cheering up, read on to find out which eight books would make the cut were she to find herself stranded on a desert island.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
I’d be tempted to cheat and ask for the entire Austen canon, bound into one volume, but if I had to pick only one of her novels it would be my favourite, Persuasion. I always find so much to admire in Anne Eliot’s kind, gentle disposition and astute mind. Her story reminds me to have courage, even when life is at its hardest.
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
I credit reading Ballet Shoes at an impressionable age for my love of ballet (and of London – how I longed for years to visit the Cromwell Road and the Victoria and Albert museum, just like the Fossil sisters). A decade of ballet training taught me how to be disciplined and hard-working, and Ballet Shoes still holds a special place in my heart.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Anne Bronte is sadly the most underrated of the Bronte sisters, and her incredible novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, deserves to be much more widely read. I prefer it to Wuthering Heights and Jayne Eyre. In her book, Anne Bronte examines the consequences of a disastrous marriage, when her heroine, Helen Graham, is forced to flee from an abusive, alcoholic husband. It was an extraordinary novel for its time and still resonates with readers today.
Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield
The gentle humour and host of unforgettable characters makes Diary of a Provincial Lady one of my ultimate comfort reads. It’s the perfect hot water bottle and duvet kind of book, but even without those amenities, would be sure to soothe the soul.
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
Perhaps if I had a copy of My Cousin Rachel with me on a desert island, I could finally make up my mind about the novel’s central question: was the eponymous Rachel an innocent victim or a self-serving hypocrite? No one does atmosphere and suspense as well as Du Maurier, and the story of Philip Ashley and his elusive, beautiful cousin keeps me gripped with every reread.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Anne’s sunny optimism and vivid imagination would be very good company whenever I felt a little lonely. She’s one of the most resilient characters I know, and I love her fiery spirit and ability to take delight in life’s small, simple pleasures.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
Another favourite heroine of mine is Flora Poste from Cold Comfort Farm. Full of common sense and a born organiser, Flora soon whips her chaotic cousins, the Starkadders, and their dilapidated farm into shape. This is a deliciously witty novel, and who couldn’t warm to the charming Flora who declares ‘when I am fifty-three or so I would like to write a novel as good as ‘Persuasion’ but with a modern setting of course. For the next thirty years or so I shall be collecting material for it.’
Right-Ho Jeeves by P. G Wodehouse
Whenever I’m feeling a little down, I always turn to a Wodehouse novel to cheer me up. The Jeeves and Wooster escapades never fail to make me laugh out loud, and Right-Ho Jeeves is one of my most highly-rated books from the series.
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