Thursday 2 June 2016

My Life In Books ~ talking to author Fanny Blake

My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox
I've asked authors to share with us a list of the books that are special to them and have made a lasting impact on their life.

I'm really delighted to welcome Fanny Blake to Random Things today. Fanny is the author of five novels.
I really enjoy her writing, her stories are beautifully written and her characters are so real. I've reviewed three of her novels here on Random Things; With A Friend Like You (August 2015); What Women Want (October 2015) and  House of Dreams (December 2015)

The paperback edition of House of Dreams is published today by Orion, if you haven't yet sampled any of Fanny's writing, today is a very good day to start!

My Life In Books ~ Fanny Blake

The Seven Seven by Enid Blyton   I remember my sister and I having to sleep in a caravan while our parents caroused with their friends in the house beside it. In the caravan was a stack of Secret Seven books. I'd never heard of them but that must be the first time I really binged on books. After that I read anything I could lay my hands on by Enid Blyton.

Jalna  by Mazo de la Roche  How I loved this series of novels about the Whiteoak family who lived in Jalna, their house in Ontario.  I'd shut myself in my bedroom and get lost in them. I could still take you to the place in our village library where they were shelved.

Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy  I refused to read Jude the Obscure when I was at school even though it was part of the syllabus. I stupidly thought the Victorians weren't for me. Fortunately that all changed the following year when I read this and loved it.

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake  When I was at university, there were two camps of either Tolkein or Peake addicts. I chose Peake for his gothic imagination and fantastical characters. I've never understood the attraction of Hobbits.

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing  This was a life-changing read for me. It spoke about feminism, socialism and so much more in such an original and exhilarating way, and encouraged me towards my own independence.

The Woman's Room by Marilyn French  After separating from my first husband, I holed up on a Mediterranean island with this for company. At the time the way it spoke so frankly to women about our lot was eye-opening. Later I went on to publish Marilyn and she became a friend. I was lucky.

A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd  This was the first book I ever acquired for Penguin when I became a commissioning editor there, way back when. I desperately wanted it to work and, when I heard a colleague laughing aloud when they were reading it, I knew I'd made the right decision.

Christine by Stephen King  I read this chiller about a haunted car at the dead of night when I was breast-feeding my first son. What was I thinking? I was scared out of my wits!

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry  I read this during my first trip to India and it remains one of my favourite books of all time. The gripping and moving story of the two tailors, Dina Dalal and her friends' son Marek is set against the 1975 State of Emergency. The prose is exquisite, shot through with humour, and the whole is devastating.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante  The book that has stayed with me since I read it only last year. A friend recommended it, and I fell in love with the depiction of Naples and the nuanced, detailed portrait of friendship. And there are three more volumes to go - bonus!

Fanny Blake ~ June 2016

Fanny Blake was a publisher for many years, editing both fiction and non-fiction before becoming a freelance journalist and writer.
She has written novels and non-fiction titles, acted as a ghost-writer for a number of celebrities and is also Books Editor of Woman and Home Magazine.

Find out more about Fanny Blake and her writing at

Follow her on Twitter @FannyBlake1



  1. I adore these posts! Fanny's book looks lovely too.

  2. I'm so glad you mentioned The Secret Seven as they were my favourite books in my childhood I read every one of them. No one seems to mention them it's always The Famous Five. I must try some of the other ones.