WHAT BOOK would writer Anne Atkins take to a desert island?

WHAT BOOK would writer and broadcaster Anne Atkins take to a desert island?

  • Anne Atkins revealed that she’s recently begun reading Julie Cohen’s Together 
  • She says a series of books on historical figures gave her the reading bug 
  • She would take the complete works of Shakespeare to a desert island  

. . . are you reading now?

I’ve just started Julie Cohen’s Together. A generous reader of my blog Bink Bonkers, about my daughter’s illness, said I clearly needed a break and offered to fund it (wow!), and while researching writers’ retreats I came across Cohen’s work. It’s cleverly constructed, and affectionate about older love. Also, every evening I read Iliad IV alternated with Oedipus Tyrannus with my 101-year-old classicist father. This keeps my brain exercised, though I do find the Greek challenging . . .

. . . would you take to a desert island?

Sorry to be predictable, but it has to be the complete works of Shakespeare . . . with, rather shamefully, my Bible as second choice. So many stories; such characters to populate my island. Comedy. Poetry. History. Language to die for — and commit to memory. And as soon as I reach the end I can start all over again. I wouldn’t need rescuing for years.

Anne Atkins (pictured) revealed that she’s currently reading Julie Cohen’s Together. She also shared the books she would take to a desert island 

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. . . first gave you the reading bug?

As A young child I loved my mother’s constant stream of choices for me from the library, for instance the series of books about famous figures through history, The Young Louis Braille, The Young Marie Curie, John Bunyan, etc. But what bowled me over was King Lear which I read at 16. It changed me forever . . . and every fresh performance I see still hurts almost unbearably. It must be the most exquisite poetry ever written, in any language . . . except, perhaps, Oedipus.

. . . left you cold?

Wolf Hall. Sorry, but there it is. My husband always buys me the latest hardbacks for Christmas, and this is the only dud he’s ever given me. I found the characters wooden, two-dimensional and almost utterly unengaging — though I adore C.J. Sansom’s Tudor novels. Also, I’ve attempted the Harry Potter series half a dozen times, and always lose the will to live on about page 5. Nor will I now read anything containing rape or mutilation: life is tough enough. (So why do I still go to Lear? The latest, a live-streaming of Ian McKellen’s, left me poleaxed for about a week. But genius is genius . . .)

Anne Atkins’ first novel for 20 years, An Elegant Solution, is published by Malcolm Down Publishing at £19.99.

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