Daisy Goodwin

Daisy Goodwin, author of The Fortune Hunter, writes:

“To paraphrase L.P. Hartley’s famous formulation, it’s all too easy to dismiss the past as another country: they do things differently there — but that’s where a really well realized historical novel can make all the difference. When I studied history at Cambridge University, quite often I would find that the best insights into a period came from fiction. I am in awe of writers like Hilary Mantel and Barbara Kingsolver who manage to be both factually and psychologically accurate. I love a book that makes the past unfurl for me, and this has been my ambition when writing my own novels, The American Heiress and now The Fortune Hunter. My only rule when writing is to produce something I would really want to read. My picks here are all books I wish I had written — immaculately researched but wearing their learning lightly, with standout characters and engrossing plots.”

I, Claudius
By Robert Graves

“This is the first historical novel I remember reading and it is still one of my favorites. Graves is steeped in Roman history, but his real achievement is to bring the brutal, backstabbing world of the imperial court to life. He is particularly good on the women: his characterization of the power-mad Livia is superb.”


Music and Silence
By Rose Tremain

“An eerily atmospheric book about intrigues at the Danish court in the seventeenth century. There is no exposition here; the reader is completely immersed into the chilly world of King Christian and his adulterous queen.”


My Dear I Wanted to Tell You
By Louisa Young

“A powerful imagining of the collateral damage inflicted by World War One on a generation of young people. Riley Purefoy is visibly mutilated by the shell that blows half his face away, but his friends and lovers are equally damaged by the aftermath of the conflict.”


The Baklava Club
By Jason Goodwin

“This is the latest in a wonderful series of detective stories set in nineteenth-century Istanbul. Yashim may be a eunuch, but he has all the equipment he needs to unpick the mysteries of the Ottoman Empire. I have to declare an interest here: the author is my brother, but that makes it all the more annoying that he writes so brilliantly.”