Tasmina Perry was a lawyer turned successful magazine editor before she became a novelist. Her debut, Daddy’s Girls, was one of the biggest-selling debuts of the year and redefined the so-called 'bonkbuster' genre for a generation. Since then, she’s written 13 novels, including Mine, her first thriller under the pen name JL Butler (which has been optioned by Sony Pictures). Her latest novel is the gripping Friend of the Family.
The Wizard of Oz. I’ve read it over a dozen times. I had quite bad asthma when I was a child and reading The Wizard of Oz helped me through lots of attacks and wheezy nights when I couldn’t sleep. It helped me to relax by whisking me away on Dorothy’s journey. I still think it’s the ultimate escapist read.
It wasn’t so much a book but a series of books. I guzzled the entire Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High series from about the age of 12-16. Which teenager growing up in the Eighties didn’t want to live in America and go to high school? Reading those books was like jumping into that world without leaving Manchester.
I went straight from Sweet Dreams books to Milan Kundera and Tom Wolfe, when I no longer wanted to go to American high school, but fancied myself as a student at the Sorbonne.
My debut novel Daddy’s Girls certainly changed my life. I had a senior job in magazines and loved every minute of it– but once I hit my mid thirties I got the sense that I was very much in a young-person’s profession and knew I needed an exit strategy out of it. I started writing Daddy’s Girls on my honeymoon and finished it on the day before I went into hospital to have my son. It meant I could leave journalism, write full-time and work from home or wherever there’s a plug socket.
I always recommend Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. It’s my all-time favourite coming-of-age novels and Cassandra, a wannabe writer who grows up in a crumbling old castle is the most charming narrator.
The book I love to gift is The Most of Nora Ephron, which is a collection of her greatest work; her journalism, her memoirs, and extracts from her brilliant book Heartburn. I can’t think of a single friend who wouldn’t love it.
One of my best ever bargains was an entire set of leather bound Agatha Christie novels that I found at a school fair. I love those books – the worlds of Poirot and Miss Marple, and the gloriously old school and glamorous settings are just magical.
One of the loveliest afternoons I’ve had recently was reading in the gorgeous gardens at Greenway – Agatha’s former house. The sun was shining, the view was spectacular and the story was completely escapist – it felt like the ultimate comfort read.
Lace by Shirley Conran. It’s enormously entertaining, but such an empowering book about friendship and the power of self. The character of Judy Jordan made me want to be a magazine editor and I chanelled my inner Judy all the way through my twenties until I made it.
Adrian Mole is still fantastic. I gave it to my twelve year old to read the other day and he was laughing out loud, too, even though he was quite perplexed by the references to cassette tapes, Malcolm Muggeridge and cherry brandy.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini made me sob.
I like reading books with a very strong sense of place when I’m on holiday. Whether that’s Donna Tartt’s The Secret History set in snowy Vermont, Scandi noir or Under the Tuscan Sun, I like to be whisked away.
I love Nick Hornby’s stuff and wish he’d write more novels. He does funny, flawed characters so well and is obviously given a fairly free rein by his publishers, so you never quite know what you’re getting.
Possibly Emma Woodhouse. I’m sociable, fun, can be a little bit bossy and like bringing people together. But I’d like to be Emma at the end of the book, not the Emma at the start, when she’s a little silly and frivolous.
I was a lawyer before I switched to journalism, and there is still a part of me that is quite detail-focused. Before I even write a word of a new novel I have to have mapped out each chapter and worked out the plot from beginning to end. Things change as I start writing, but generally I’m quite geeky about the plotting process.
My bookshelves are just chaotic. My friend who is a feng-shui consultant comes round and despairs every time she sees them. I have so many books, and can’t throw any away, so we are now into the realms of double and triple stacking. I either need a bigger house, to give some away or start buying more ebooks.