Ever been influenced by a book? I have, many times, although I haven’t always realised its full impact until much later. Today, ALICE FITZGERALD, shares with me the books that have changed her life…
About Alice Fitzgerald
Alice Fitzgerald is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been published in magazines and websites including HELLO! magazine, Yahoo Lifestyle, Happiful, Refinery29 and Hello Giggles, as well as in literary journals. Her Mother’s Daughter is her debut novel. Born in London to Irish parents, she now lives in Madrid. Her birth certificate reads Miriam Foley.
BOOKS THAT HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE
Alice says: It was so hard to come up with a list of books that have changed my life, and I’m sure I’ll kick myself and remember lots more in the weeks to come, but the following tomes are the ones that have really helped to shape me, and my journey, in some way.
I was so young when I discovered The Famous Five by Enid Blyton that I can’t remember now which books or storylines were my favourite; just how excited I was when I read them. That absolute delight of a story that takes you to another world and has you devouring the pages and turning them impatiently, reading in the bath, the car – and in bed, way past your bedtime.
Similarly, with The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, all I can remember is this image of the secret garden that I made in my mind. To this day, whenever I come across an overgrown garden, I remember the one from this book. The moment I came across the house deep in the forest in Hampstead Heath, London, was so magical because for me it was The Secret Garden.
I always loved English at school. I loved words and writing essays and reading – even though I was very slow. My English teacher clearly knew this, and so she lent me her copy of The Girl with Green Eyes by Edna O’Brien. She was also Irish, and called Mrs O’Brien, funnily enough. It took me a long time to read the book because to be brutally honest, I thought the cover looked really old, but when I came to read it I loved it. I’ve read several of Edna O’Brien’s books since and she has become a huge inspiration for me. I love the voices, the places, the natural Irishness of her sentences and stories.
I have two copies of The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, on my bookshelf. One, from my A-level studies, and another that I bought thinking I had lost the previous copy. Studying this book blew my mind, it was so clever. I remember being quite naïve, or ignorant, so that when the teacher told us that places like the ones from the book actually existed, we were in shock, and in awe at Atwood. Now I’m thinking about it, I want to read it again.
As the London-born daughter of Irish parents, who lives in Madrid, I love reading Irish literature. I love reading about people coming and going, so of course I devoured the pages of Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín. It so astutely explores the turmoil of emigration, something I think about often.
My sister read The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz a few years ago and told me I should read it. I did, and wow. I recommend everyone to read it. It is an incredible journey through the human psyche, told by a psychoanalist. It confirmed for me what an amazing, beautiful and delicate place the mind is.
The Talking Heads monologues by Alan Bennett taught me a lot about writing, and about capturing the essence of human beings, and society, through words.
For me, so much of Bennetts’ monologues are all about that fine line between sadness, pity and humour… When I think of words like pathos, bathos, and satire, I think of Alan Bennett.
About Alice’s book, HER MOTHER’S DAUGHTER (currently only 99p!)
Set across two decades in London and Ireland, Her Mother’s Daughter sees the lives of a troubled and emotionally abusive mother and her innocent ten-year-old daughter change forever after one summer holiday.
1980: Josephine flees her home in Ireland, hoping never to return. She starts a new, exciting life in London, but as much as she tries, she can’t quite leave the trauma of her childhood behind.
Seventeen years and two children later, Josephine gets a call from her sister to tell her that their mother is dying and wants to see her – a summons she can’t refuse.
1997: Ten-year-old Clare is counting down to the summer holidays, when she is going to meet her grandparents in Ireland for the first time. She hopes this trip will put an end to her mum’s dark moods – and drinking.
But family secrets can’t stay buried forever and following revelations in Ireland, everything starts to unravel. Have Josephine and her daughter passed the point of no return?
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