Ever been influenced by a book? I have, many times, although I haven’t always realised its full impact until much later. Today, EMMA ROBINSON, shares with me the books that have changed her life…
Emma Robinson thinks of herself as one of the ‘Bridget Jones generation’ – who are now grown up and having children – and writes novels for women who feel the same.
She also has a blog, Motherhood for Slackers, which takes a humorous look at parenthood, and includes poems such as ‘Dear Teacher’ about her son starting school which has been shared around the world. Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.
BOOKS THAT HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE
Emma says: I’m really excited to chat about these influential books!
Although I was a voracious reader as a child, this was the first book which made me cry. Jo March was, and still is, my literary heroine. Like her, I wanted to be a writer from a young age and, also like her, could often be found with my nose in a book. My copy of Little Women is a hardback which my mum was bought as a child, so it has a sentimental value too.
I had a fantastic English teacher at school and he made this book come alive for us. We even had a class trip to Rochester where he held one of my classmates upside down like Magwitch and Pip. I don’t usually enjoy books with a huge amount of description, but Dickens is an exception to the rule. I have since read a lot more of his novels but this will always be my favourite.
Pride and Prejudice
Is there a reading woman in the whole of England who doesn’t have this book on their ‘favourite’ list? If Jo March is my favourite character, Elizabeth Bennett comes a very close second. There is so much humour in this book but also the kind of romance which makes me sigh aloud. I could read the scene in which Mr Darcy tells her that he loves her (the second time) a thousand times and never get bored of it.
This was the book which most affected me at university. The story was nothing like I expected it to be and there were moments which brought me to tears. Not only is it exceptionally well-written and plotted, it also poses many important questions about humanity and progress which are still relevant today. Even now, I can’t believe that Mary Shelley was only nineteen when she wrote it. It’s a masterpiece.
Lord of the Rings
I had read The Hobbit as a child with my dad and always planned to read Lord of the Rings one day as it was his favourite book. I eventually found the time to read it in my early twenties when I had an hour’s train commute to work every day. The hour would fly by as I was completely drawn into the alternative world which Tolkein created. There was one point – when I thought a central character was dead – when I was actually sobbing on the train and didn’t realise!
Bridget Jones’ Diary
This book brings back so many great memories about being single and living in London. Bridget is a creation of comic genius and yet is still hugely relatable. The relationship woes, the friendships, the love of wine – I could connect with it all and this book will always have a special place in my heart. I know how hard it can be to write comedy and Helen Fielding does is so well. She was a trailblazer in women’s comedy fiction.
Much Ado about Nothing
Am I allowed to have a play? As an English teacher, I have had to teach a LOT of Shakespeare and this one is by far my favourite. I love the humour and wordplay between Beatrice and Benedick and she is a fantastic character. I actually have a necklace with a quote from the play: “I love you with so much of my heart that there is none left to protest.”
Gone with the Wind
I had seen the film version of Gone with the Wind many times before I actually got around to reading the book – well it is 1,000 pages long! When I was pregnant with my daughter, we had the name Scarlett on our list and I decided it was time to read the book. It is very different from the film – and Scarlett O’Hara is possibly a less likeable character – but I absolutely loved it and we did name our daughter after her. I guess I only have myself to blame for her sass!
Game of Thrones
I came late to the party with Game of Thrones because I didn’t think it would be my kind of thing. However, I picked up a copy in a charity shop to see what all the fuss was about and I was so hooked that I went straight online to buy the whole set. I wouldn’t say I so much as read the series as devoured it – the whole thing in about two months. The plot had me gripped and I am in awe of how George RR Martin can write in a way that we can keep all these characters in our heads as we read. When I finished the last page, I was bereft.
Into the Woods – John Yorke
This book changed my life as a writer. Having written a blog for four years, I knew how I wanted to write but I always found plotting difficult. Having that thread which keeps your reader reading on. I was introduced to this book by a fellow writer friend and it has changed the way I plan and write. It was this book which helped me to structure the novel which secured me a publishing deal. So, I guess this is the one that really did change my life!
About Emma’s book, HAPPILY NEVER AFTER
She closed her eyes. Think with your head. Your heart can’t be trusted. Life is not a fairytale…
Rory doesn’t believe in love. She’s got far too many real problems to deal with.
She’s just bought a tumbledown house. Her mother is generally behaving like a wicked witch, insisting on calling her Aurora, and generally interfering in her (admittedly pitiful lack of) love life. And her 16-year-old daughter has finally grown out of Disney princesses and discovered dating…
But Rory’s adamant that she doesn’t need saving. In fact, the only thing she’s wishing on a star for is a bit of practical help. However, when she meets a builder whose name is John Prince and who seems to be in the habit of rescuing her (right down to finding her lost shoe one evening) she might have to face a truth as uncomfortable as hobbling home barefoot – that maybe there’s something enchanted in the air.
Her mother, daughter and friends are convinced her prince has come, but Rory just wishes everyone could let it go. Especially when she hears a story that makes her question whether he is really the hero everyone thinks he is…
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