Paige Toon is the author of 11 books and her latest, The One We Fell in Love With is the perfect summery read to escape into. Three books that are important to her include an Austen classic, our favourite singleton and a much-loved cuddly toy.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
I used to read this story over and over when I was a young girl. It’s about a soft toy rabbit given to a boy for Christmas. The boy grows to love the Velveteen Rabbit so much that all of his whiskers fall off and his fur becomes threadbare. The boy believes he’s real, and that’s all the rabbit could ever want. But the boy falls ill with scarlet fever and all of his toys have to be burnt…
I recently read this story to my own children and I found it absolutely heartbreaking. I struggled to keep my tears under control, but they’re too young to fully understand the sentiment of love and loss, thankfully.
I remember writing stories that had sad endings, when I was younger. It wasn’t that I didn’t like happy endings, but that I felt that they would be what an adult would expect from a child, and I didn’t want to be predictable. My novels these days are far more likely to have happy endings, but they’re often bittersweet, too. I don’t doubt that this beautiful story influenced me from a very early age.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
I was on holiday in Key West with my parents when I read it, and I still remember sitting on a sun-lounger by the pool and laughing my head off as the thirty-something singleton got up to all sorts of mischief. It’s a very funny novel, but at its heart is also a great love story: who will Bridget choose? Charming cad of a boss Daniel or proud, brooding Mr Darcy?
I have always enjoyed reading about love triangles, and I love writing about them, too. Although this is probably my favourite chick-lit book of all time, my favourite author of the genre is undoubtedly Marian Keyes. No one does hilarious and heartwarming quite like she does, and anyone who dismisses chick-lit as lighthearted fluff would do well to check out one of her novels.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Of the two Dashwood sisters—sensible Elinor and true romantic Marianne—I identify most with Marianne. She wears her heart on her sleeve and falls madly and hopelessly in love with bad boy Willoughby.
I was distraught that she settled with safe, boring Colonel Brandon who’s almost 20 years older than her, but I could understand why she did. Now I write stories about women who are sometimes torn between two men.
Often there’s a raging debate among my readers about whether my characters ended up with the right person or not. I don’t like things to be too clear cut!
The One We Fell in Love With is published by Simon & Schuster, £7.99.