A book is for life, not just for Christmas …

And so the Christmas countdown begins. Santa is busy visiting the country’s shopping centres, lights are being switched on, strains of jingle bells  accompany us as we get the weekly shop and for many children, Santa lists have been written and sent off to ‘Himself’.


Yes. Already. And isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. Sheesh.

Anyhoo, before I go all bah humbug and before we all get carried away with indulging our little ones’ endless requests for Skylanders, Nerf guns and Wii u (no – me neither), let us not forget about the simple, humble gifts from days of yore which we, as children, adored and (hopefully) still treasure now, as adults.

Books! Yes, books.

Possibly not as squeal-inducing on Christmas morning as the latest electronic gadget but trust me, when the batteries can’t be found and the screwdriver won’t fit and the packaging the latest electronic gadget came in has been squashed flat and you curl up on the sofa with your little ones (glass of red in one hand and the book Santa delivered in the other), you will realise that there really is no better gift than a good old fashioned book.

Walker books have some fantastic new titles available to suit all age ranges. From tiny tots to troublesome teens there really is something to keep everyone happy. Some of my favourite titles are the following:


These are all excellent books. The reference books are crammed with information and ‘life-the-flap’ details. The Nutcracker and The Night Before Christmas have beautiful illustrations and interactive ‘pop-up’ elements and the fiction titles are just superb reads.

Details for all these, and other Walker books, can be found on the Walker Books website http://www.walker.co.uk/holidays-are-coming and there is currently 25% off the titles when ordered through the site.

So, perhaps you could add a little P.S. to the Santa lists, to give him a gentle reminder that a book or two wouldn’t go amiss in the stockings this year.

Some may say, old-fashioned. I prefer to say, timeless.


Too many Titanic books?

Fellow Historical Novel Society member Dianne Ascroft writes about why she wasn’t too keen to read another Titanic novel, but that her opinion was changed when she read The Girl Who Came Home.

Dianne’s blog currently features an interview with me about the process of researching and writing The Girl Who Came Home and about my thoughts on writing historical fiction.

You can read the interview here.


Literary Heroines – Charlotte Bronte

I adore this picture of Charlotte Bronte. She looks so wonderfully English and demure. Fabulous.

Her novel, Jane Eyre, has long been a classic favourite of mine and Wuthering Heights by her sister Emily is another. In fact, I loved the Bronte sisters and their writing so much that when I was 17 and studying for my English Literature A’Level I choose to write my extended essay (a gigantic piece of prolonged coursework which counted towards your final grade) on the contrasting personalities of Charlotte and Emily and of their writing style and of their heroines Jane Eyre and Cathy. I can’t remember what conclusions I drew, but I remember being incredibly proud of my work. I’d love to be able to get my hands on that essay now and read it – what thoughts did I have as a 17 year old, I wonder?

In any event, I am still a huge fan of the Bronte sisters (not least because one of my fondest childhood memories is of taking a family trip to their home, Haworth Parsonage) and I find myself returning to their books and their incredible, memorable characters again and again – who doesn’t love Cathy and Heathcliff and the brooding setting of the moors, or the wonderful Jane Eyre and her Mr Rochester and the demented wife in the attic? Just brilliant. Of course, I love Jane Austen too, but maybe there is something about my Yorkshire roots which finds myself drawn to the work of the sisters who lived there too.

The Bronte sisters were, of course, skilled poets, as well as novelists. So, just because I can, here is a very lovely poem by Charlotte Bronte – enjoy.

Life, by: Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)

IFE, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
Rapidly, merrily,
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!
What though Death at times steps in,
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet Hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!