Ten Books that Changed Me with Christine Wells
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Any girl who grew up loving Anne of Green Gables knows that clever, troublesome girls are more interesting. And sometimes they even get Gilbert Blythe!
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I was about nine or ten years old when my mother took me to see the wonderful Helen Morse play Lizzie in the play of Pride and Prejudice. I went on to read the book and loved everything about it: the wit and wordplay, the era, the fine characterisation and of course, the romance.
Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer
If Austen triggered my fascination with the Regency period, Georgette Heyer turned it into an obsession. I read and re-read these wonderful novels all through my teen years and beyond. Heyer’s characters leap off the page and she is so very funny. My first completed novel was very Heyeresque.
The Odyssey by Homer
When I was at school I had a brilliant speech and drama teacher who required me to read The Odyssey to understand Toad of Toad Hall. So began my love of ancient Greece and The Odyssey, in particular, which I re-read every few years.
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
The first novel I entered in contests, Scandal’s Daughter, had a hero called Sebastian. My lovely friend, Anna Campbell, who had read my first three chapters, introduced me to Loretta Chase’s Sebastian. I hadn’t read many Regency-set historical romances by Americans at that stage and I was bowled over by this book. It was so well-researched but also very passionate and dramatic; it seemed to fuse the best of both worlds—the wit of the traditional Regency with the more swashbuckling American historical.
Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
Another recommendation from Anna Campbell. This novel gave me a taste for darker historicals and influenced my own books at that time.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Husseini
I know it’s not a romance but this book had such a huge impact on me that I had to include it. I listened to the audio version, read by the author, and it was such a visceral experience, as if the narrator of the story was speaking directly to me about the horrors that overtook Afghanistan and one very flawed person’s struggle to be brave and do the right thing.
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
I include this book for its wonderful gothic atmosphere and fine plotting, but I also chose it because it opened up a market here in Australia for historical fiction set in England, which is what I love to write.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
There is an incident in this book that is so shattering, it has stayed with me for years afterwards. It made me want to write about those clever and courageous women who operated behind enemy lines during World War II. “Kiss Me Hardy!”
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I love reading about women who not only break out of that nice girl mould but smash it to smithereens, so I found this book very compelling. It is worth reading for the ‘cool girls’ rant alone. Amy followed all the rules, did all the right things, she became exactly what her husband wanted. She deserved that fairytale ending, dammit! And when she didn’t get it, she made him pay. Not a book for those who need to like at least one character in the story, though!
The Juliet Code
It’s 1947 and the war is over, but Juliet Barnard is still tormented by secrets. She was a British agent and wireless operator in occupied Paris until her mission went critically wrong. Juliet was caught by the Germans, imprisoned and tortured in a mansion in Paris’s Avenue Foch.
Now that she’s home, Juliet can’t – or won’t – relive the horrors that occurred in that place. Nor will she speak about Sturmbannführer Strasser, the manipulative Nazi who held her captive. . .
Haunted by the guilt of betrayal, the last thing Juliet wants is to return to Paris. But when Mac, an SAS officer turned Nazi-hunter, demands her help searching for his sister, Denise, she can’t refuse. Denise and Juliet trained together before being dropped behind enemy lines. Unlike Juliet, Denise never made it home. Certain Strasser is the key to discovering what happened to his sister, Mac is determined to find answers – but will the truth destroy Juliet?