Friday, May 11, 2012

Anne Berry

Anne Berry was born in London and moved to Hong Kong at the age of six, where she was educated. She founded a small drama school, writing and directing more than thirty plays in ten years, and now lives in Surrey with her husband and four children. Her first novel, The Hungry Ghosts, was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Her latest novel is The Water Children.

Recently I asked Berry what she was reading.  Her reply:
Every so often you read a book that you know will stay with you for the rest of your life, a book of more worth than any treasure trove, a book that makes you breathless it is so full of light and life. For me that book is How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn, published in 1939, which I finished with immeasurable sadness a fortnight ago. You know that you have an exceptional read in your hand when, like an ecstatic audience you scream for an encore. Set in a mining community in South Wales during the reign of Queen Victoria, it is the story of Huw Morgan and his large mining family, told in his own voice, with infinite love and sensual tender pleasure. This amazing writer is a paint box, an orchestra, a gourmet and a heartbeat in a single sentence. There is such music in his voice, the music of the Welsh valleys and of a people who work hard, live hard and play hard. I shall never forget this novel, and an author can ask for no higher acclaim than that.

Now my tastes are eclectic, and I relish the challenge of something different. So from the sublime to the visceral, bloodcurdling history, Caligula by Douglas Jackson. This is a gripping read although, as if I was watching an outstanding horror film, I sometimes had to skip a few sentences. It is the story of Rufus, a young slave, his friendship with the brave gladiator Cupido, trying to survive in the imperial palace of the infamous sadist, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, the third Roman Emperor, better known as the unhinged sadist Caligula. The narrative sped along, and this well-built thoroughly researched frame supported some of the richest descriptive writing I have ever read. His dialogue was superb. Jackson brought Rome alive for me, chilling, deadly and magnetic. A wonder filled novel from a master of his trade.
Visit Anne Berry's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Water Children.

--Marshal Zeringue