Hello and welcome to another instalment of Desert Island Books! This is a monthly feature where I chat to bloggers, authors and people from the book industry about the books they love.
The premise is simple – imagine you have ended up on a desert island. You have sufficient food and clean water but you need something to occupy your mind. You can bring 5 books with you to your island paradise, but what would they be? And why? Oh, and you’re also allowed to bring a fictional character from literature with you, who would you choose?
About Kate Vane
Kate worked as a probation officer in Leeds for a number of years. She started writing crime fiction because she thought made-up criminals would be easier to anage (she was wrong). She now lives on the South Devon coast.
She has published five novels. The latest, Still You Sleep, is the first in a crime series set in Leeds, featuring journalists Tilda Green and Freddie Stone.
When she’s not reading or writing, Kate’s is a keen wildlife gardener. Last year she had frogs under close surveillance and a stakeout under cover of darkness led to the discovery of a hedgehog. She maintains her innocence in the matter of the disappearing slugs.
Desert Island Books
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
I first read Jane Eyre when I was eleven. (I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just live with the guy.) Later, knowing more about the period and her story, I was stunned by how radical it was. Later again, I appreciated her innovations with style, such as switching to the present tense at moments of heightened tension. It’s a book that grows and changes with each rereading and I’d like to have it with me for this next stage in my life.
It would also remind me of happy times visiting Haworth when I lived in Leeds, walking on the moors and marvelling over Charlotte’s tiny boots in the Bronte Parsonage before decamping to one of the numerous Bronte-themed tea shoppes.
The House of Stairs by Barbara Vine
Ruth Rendell was one of my key inspirations to start writing crime fiction. I love the way she reveals the dark and twisty inner lives of supposedly ordinary people. While her Barbara Vine novels have a mystery element they are more complex than her mysteries, often taking place over different timelines. The House of Stairs is unusual because we know the murderer early on, but not the victim. It is infused with the protagonist’s longing for a time and a place that she can never return to. I guess on a desert island that would match my mood!
Blind Eye by Stuart MacBride
Many of my favourite authors write crime fiction series featuring memorable characters, but how to choose one book? MacBride’s Logan McRae novels, featuring an Aberdeen detective, combine dark, compulsive plots, visceral description and almost absurdist humour. The obvious choice would be the first or the last book, but I’ve chosen Blind Eye, which is the fifth in the (so far) 12-part series, because of its portrayal of the bond between Logan and his boss, DI Steel, and (no spoilers) a brilliantly gross ending featuring his hapless colleague, Rennie.
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
I first read this at school for ‘A’ Level English and was absolutely stunned by it. It was y first introduction to magical realism, and is full of colour and exuberance and satirical humour. I had already become fascinated by India through reading books by British authors like EM Forster and George Orwell. Midnight’s Children led me to begin reading other Indian authors such as Amitav Ghosh and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I also became fascinated by Indian politics and went on to study it and, eventually, to travel to India.
Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
When I first read this, I didn’t know much about medieval history, religious disputes or the politics of the Catholic church. I skimmed those bits and just read it as a whodunnit in a monastery. Now I’ve become much more interested in that period and I would like to reread it slowly, paying attention to the ideas. I seem to remember there’s also a fair bit about growing crops and herbal remedies which would come in useful. I love gardening so would probably have a go on the island.
A Fictional Character
If you could share the island with a fictional character, who would it be?
Detective Fiona Griffiths
If you haven’t read any of the novels from the Fiona Griffiths crime series written by Harry Bingham, Fiona is tough, clever and resourceful. She’d no doubt be great at building a shelter and fighting off predators.
She also has a psychiatric condition which means she thinks she’s dead. I think that means things would never get boring. She likes to self-medicate with cannabis so I’ll see if I can find something like it on the island and grow it for her. And, like my partner, she’s Welsh – when I miss him it’ll be good to hear her say his name.
My thanks to Kate for sharing her wonderful Desert Island Books with us.
If you are an author, blogger, work in the book industry or just love books and you’d like to take part in my Desert Island Books series then I’d love to hear from you! You can contact me by filling out the form beneath.