Anthony Quinn is the author of five brilliant books, the latest of which, Freya, is his best yet and it's my favourite book of the year so far.
Amid the tumult of London's VE Day celebrations, Freya Wyley meets Nancy Holdaway, the prelude to a devoted and competitive friendship that will endure on and off for the next two decades. Freya - wilful, ambitious, outspoken - pursues a career in journalism which the chauvinism of Fleet Street and her own impatience conspire to thwart; while Nancy - gentler, less self-confident - struggles to get her first novel published. But it's Freya's struggle to assert her independence, to find her own path in a society that expects little more of her than marriage and motherhood, that makes it such a distinctive and compelling read: she deserves a place as one of the great literary heroines.
Anthony Quinn began his career writing book reviews for Sebastian Faulkes, then Literary Editor of The Independent. He continued to write for newspapers and magazines and was for fifteen years the film critic of The Independent. Judging the 2006 Man Booker Prize lead him to writing his own novel; The Rescue Man won the Author's Club Best First Novel prize in 2009. If Freya doesn't end the year garlanded with awards, I'll eat my hat.
I know that one of the books that inspired him was Middlemarch, "so engrossing and life-enhancing that I began to realise there was no higher art than the novel", he says. He's very kindly sent me the five others that have been important to his work, and I can't wait to talk to him about them at the Club at Cafe Royal over a glass of Bollinger next month.
When & Where
Helen Brocklebank, is the off screen name of writer and Times 100 blogger 'Mrs Trefusis'. Helen worked for many years at Harper's Bazaar and Esquire magazines, and founded The Books That Built Me in April 2014. At The Books That Built Me, Helen interviews authors about the books that inspire their writing, tracing the thread that links the books you read and the books you write.
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