CLARISSA by Samuel Richardson Penguin, £25
A masterpiece of exploring the minutiae of human feeling. It’s the story in letters of the abduction and assault of a young woman in the mid-18th century.
I love the period and the immediacy of it.
THE GREAT GATSBY by F Scott Fitzgerald Penguin, £6.99
An old favourite that shows the glittering, meretricious, empty world of the 1920s.
It was a period of huge transition after the war that would never go back to how it was. Fitzgerald lived the life he chronicled and his descriptions are incredible.
ALL CHANGE by Elizabeth Jane Howard Pan, £8.99
I love all the Cazalet Chronicles. I’m heartbroken that Howard has left us and we can’t hear more about them.
They were a model for creating the multi-voiced big family novel.
MARIE ANTOINETTE by Antonia Fraser W&N, £14.99
A brilliant exploration of a tragic queen, of queenship and the French Revolution.
Antonia sets the gold standard for biographers in everything but she’s particularly good at showing the faults. I like writing about women and queens are fascinating because as women they are seen as secondary but they’re royal so are put above a lot of people.
KILLERS OF THE KING by Charles Spencer Bloomsbury, £10.99
A thrilling detective story about tracking down the men who killed Charles I.
His execution is perennially fascinating. What took people to the level of killing their king?
GEORGIANA, DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE by Amanda Foreman Harper, £14.99
A classic of women’s history. Georgiana did so much to remind us that women’s voices are interesting. She was a great aristocrat in the 18th century and the height of fashion but Foreman shows she had a political brain.
Women’s history has had a transformation in the past 20 years and this was a trailblazer.