Saturday, February 7, 2009

Helena Frith Powell

Helena Frith Powell writes the French Mistress column in The Sunday Times about living in France. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, Tatler Magazine, and Harper’s Bazaar.

She is the author of All You Need to Be Impossibly French: A Witty Investigation Into the Lives, Lusts, and Little Secrets of French Women, Be Incredibly Sexy: A Crash Course in Getting Your Groove On--and Keeping It There, and other books. Her new book, The Viva Mayr Diet, is due out this spring.

Late last month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
When I was 15 I read Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I am almost embarrassed to admit that it is still one of my all-time favourite books. I thought I would grow out of the Byronic hero thing but I haven't. I re-read it last year and loved it. I think part of the attraction is the rather gloomy and isolated life led by the Brontë sisters, the mystery of the moors surrounding their home and the fact that they were all so talented.

At the moment I am reading The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh and The Pyramid by the Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell, two very different books, but I am about to go to India and Sweden to interview them and so need to do some research. I have never read a crime book before apart from Raymond Chandler; it is fun, easy reading but I'm not sure I will ever be mad about the genre. I like the Ghosh enormously, it is atmospheric, tragic, almost epic in scope.

If I could spend an afternoon reading anything I wanted it would probably not be either of those but I might re-read The Great Gatsby for the 100th time (always a total joy) and maybe pick up a Hemingway book, I am happy to say I have not read them all so I have that to look forward to. I also wish Irene Némirovsky had not been murdered by the Nazis, her Suite Francaise is probably one of the best books I have ever read in my life and I want to weep when I think there should have been two more installments.

It might even have pipped Wuthering Heights to the number one spot.
Visit Helena Frith Powell's website, and read about her top ten list of "sexy French books."

--Marshal Zeringue