Philippa Gregory: Books that changed my life

Caroline Hutton

A Room With a View

By E M Forster 


Buy A Room With a View on DVD for £5.99

Growing up, I used to go and stay with my aunt, who was one of the first women to graduate from Oxford. She had a wonderful library, including Forster first editions, and would let me take them out into the countryside to read.

At 14, I was exactly the right age to enjoy this deceptively simple coming-of-age story and to embrace proper literature for the first time—freely, deeply and with real pleasure.

The Making of the English Working Class

By E P Thompson

This is the Bible of Marxist history. During my first year at Sussex University everybody was talking about it, so I felt I had to tackle it too.

I’d always been interested in history and left-wing thinking, so Thompson’s knowledge and outrage at the way the working class has been treated really shaped my politics.

He has a lovely sense of humour and writes with enormous sympathy, so his love of England shines through

Simple Gifts 

By Joanne Greenberg

Picked up by chance in a bookshop some 30 years ago, this is the book I’ve reread more than any other.

It’s an entertaining story about a poor farming family in Colorado, secretly brewing alcohol to make ends meet, who have to step back in time and live and dress like pioneers when their farm is chosen as a heritage site, where stressed New Yorkers come to sample simple living.

Obviously things go wrong, but it’s Greenberg’s meditation on time, the differences between living in the past and the present, which I take to heart each time I read it.

Philippa Gregory talks about her latest novel, The Taming of the Queen

Buy The Taming of the Queen for £12.99 (RRP £20.00)

Feature image via Oxford Scientific