One of the joys of blogging is discovering great writers who I might not otherwise have come across. My latest discovery has written eight novels and a short story collection. No, I’ve no idea how I missed her either. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Emily Marr is so engrossing I read it in less than 24 hours. And, you lucky people, not only do you get a review of the novel by me, you also get to discover the books that influenced Louise Candlish to write (all written by women) and there’s a chance to win a copy of The Disappearance of Emily Marr. Read on…
The books that inspired me to write…in the order in which I read them
All the Malory Towers and St Clare’s books
I’m one of millions who grew up on Enid Blyton’s boarding school series and I know they must have inspired me to write because my first novel, produced when I was about twelve, was set in a boarding school. The title was Chopping & Changing (I seem to remember I insisted on the ampersand). I longed to go to boarding school myself – though now when I meet people who did they almost always say they loathed it.
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
After Enid came Agatha. I have read everything she wrote and my favourite has always been Death on the Nile. For me it is the perfect crime novel. I was about eleven when I read it and it was a light-bulb moment, not so much in knowing I wanted to write as in knowing I would never find a greater pleasure than reading good fiction. And I was right, I never have.
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
I always mention this one, the story of Sally Jay Gorce, an American in Paris in the Fifties. It was recommended by a friend, my first boss, and we dashed from lunch to a bookshop to hunt out a copy. It influenced my writing in that it made the creation of a good novel feel accessible, like something I could do too. Of course I now know that apparently effortless storytelling like this is one of the hardest things for a writer to pull off.
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
I’m a Margaret Atwood superfan; she is the only author I’ve stood in a queue for in the rain to get my book signed. The Edible Woman was the last book I read before I started writing my first published novel, having taken a twenty-year break since the boarding school one. I remember I was in Italy at the time and got into a conversation about books with two Australian girls. I told them I’d started writing a novel but was already downhearted because my writing was so terrible compared to Atwood’s. They said, ‘Well, so is pretty much everyone else’s in the world, so you can’t let that put you off.’
The Country Life by Rachel Cusk
Cusk is one of my favourite writers. She’s very dark and my own books have a certain darkness so it’s likely her influence is in there somewhere. She’s a supreme stylist, very exact and spiky and intense. The Country Life is the story of Stella, who leaves the city for undisclosed reasons to work for a family in the country. The title suggests a rural idyll, but you are never going to get that from Cusk. I often feel shocked by her writing: a marvellous feeling.
Well I’ve definitely added some more books to my TBR and here’s another one you might want to include:
The Disappearance of Emily Marr begins with Tabby Dewhurst waking in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar town. Having been dumped by her boyfriend while travelling around the world, she’s found herself penniless in France. Leaving the scene of her one night stand, she finds herself in Ile de Ré and hearing a woman repeating the key code to her apartment door then leaving with a suitcase in tow, lets herself into the flat.
Tabby is fast asleep in the spare room when Emily Marr returns and, in a twist explained later in the novel, allows Tabby to stay. The novel then continues as a dual narrative alternate chapters telling Tabby’s story in third person and Emily telling her own in first person. Like Tabby, we’re placed in a position of ignorance – as Tabby has been away from England for several months, she has no idea who Emily is, although we are soon informed that at least one newspaper has run a story about her with the headline ‘IS THIS BRITAIN’S MOST HATED WOMAN?’ What Emily has done to deserve this and the two huge twists that come during the novel will have you turning the pages as fast as you can read.
Thanks to Louise’s publishers, Sphere, I have one copy of The Disappearance of Emily Marr to give away. Competition now closed. See below for the winner.
You can also buy the book here (and at your local independent bookshop). Louise has also written three short stories available for your Kindle with the first few chapters of The Disappearance of Emily Marr included. Summer Affairs is here for a bargain 99p.
Louise has been on a blog tour for the past week. If you’d like to read more about her and her work checkout the poster below. You can also read more about Louise on her website http://www.louisecandlish.co.uk/ and follow her on Twitter @louise_candlish
My new random generator has selected a winner:
Congratulations, Cath. The book will be on its way to you shortly. Commiserations everyone else; thanks for entering.
Thanks to Sphere for the review copy.