Rachel Hore: Books that changed my life

Farhana Gani

Rachel Hore’s enthralling novels weave together past and present.  Her latest, The House on Bellevue Gardens is set in London now and in the early 1960s.

Bestselling author Rachel Hore’s previous novels include The Glass Painter’s Daughter, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Romantic Novel of the Year award and A Gathering Storm, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Historical Novel of the Year.

The House on Bellevue Gardens, her latest novel centres around four people who find themselves alone, in limbo, escaping or in hiding. They find refuge in a shabby house that is itself under threat.

Here, she shares three books that made an impact on her life.


by Virginia Woolf

Reading Orlando for the first time in my late teens gave me a wonderful sense of freedom and the possibilities that a life full of books can offer. Perpetually young, Orlando possesses ‘the strength of a man and a woman’s grace’. 

He lives through four centuries and many disguises:  as a page to Elizabeth I, an ambassador to the courts of Constantinople, then, changing gender, as an irrepressible woman bored by the mannered wits of the eighteenth century and frustrated by the crinolines of the nineteenth.

It’s an exuberant literary romp through history that excited and inspired me.

Flight Behaviour

by Barbara Kingsolver

I’ve read many of Barbara Kingsolver’s novels, including her well-known The Poisonwood Bible, admiring how easily she writes about the power and beauty of the natural world, of which humanity is a dependent part. 

I particularly love Flight Behaviour because she engages the reader easily with an ambitious subject for fiction, climate change. 

In it a small American farming community is unexpectedly visited by a vast colony of migrating butterflies, a shocking and fabulous sight, but all wrong because the insects have lost their way. 

Her story makes us all care about what we are doing to our world.

The Hawk in the Rain

by Ted Hughes

We were given The Thought Fox to read at school and I was so taken by its central image of the fox in the snow inspiring the poem that I spent that week’s paper round money on the volume it appears in. I read and reread and was entranced! 

I loved his facility with description, of horses ‘megalith still’ in a silent dawn, of an isolated house ringing ‘like some fine green goblet’ in a windstorm. Oh the energy, the violence, the sensuousness of those poems. 

Everyone should have their ‘discovery of poetry’ moment, and mine was Ted Hughes.

You can find all Rachel Hore’s books in our bookshop