Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Santa Montefiore

Born in England in 1970 Santa Montefiore grew up on a farm in Hampshire and was educated at Sherborne School for Girls. She read Spanish and Italian at Exeter University and spent much of the 90s in Buenos Aires, where her mother grew up. She converted to Judaism in 1998 and married historian Simon Sebag Montefiore in the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha in London.

Montefiore latest novel is The Beekeeper's Daughter.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I bought it because I read her brilliant and moving The Invention of Wings over Christmas and I loved it so much – really, it’s one of the most touching, beautifully-written and fascinating novels I have ever read – that I wanted to read more of her! My mother read The Secret Life of Bees and raved about it (and she’s very hard to please) so it’s on my bedside table, waiting to be started. It’s set in South Carolina in the sixties and rather like The Invention of Wings, is about two young women: a white woman and a black slave. Reading the short blurb about the story on the back of the book I know that I am going to love it. These two courageous young women flee together when racial tension explodes ones afternoon and Rosaleen, the slave, is arrested and beaten, and find sanctuary in the house of three beekeeping sisters. You would have thought I might have picked it up before seeing as my latest novel is about a beekeeper’s daughter! Anyhow, I know I’m going to adore it – Monk Kidd’s writing is stunning, profound, poignant and wholly compelling.

The Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor

My new project is a trilogy based in Co. Cork, Ireland, so when my husband picked this book out of the library in the hotel we were recently staying in on the island of Mauritius, I knew it would at least be helpful for my research. I didn’t count on it being so gripping! It’s really brilliant! It tells the tale of various characters all travelling to New York on a ship from Ireland. It is 1847 and they are all fleeing the famine in Ireland. Among the hundreds of refugees a camouflaged killer is stalking the decks with the intention of murdering one of the passengers. As the personal stories of the main characters are slowly and intriguingly revealed, you begin to realise that these people are all connected. The ending is a total surprise and I was left guessing right up until the final paragraph. I adored every bit of the journey, both on the ship and into the pasts of the characters. It is plotted and constructed in a rather unusual way and it was only at the end that I realised why...but I’m not giving anything away! clever, brilliantly plotted and gripping – while at the same time giving me an invaluable history lesson about Ireland’s past. I couldn’t put it down, not simply because of the compelling plot but because it is so well-written!

Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin

I am so obsessed by the TV drama series that when the last series ended last spring I couldn’t wait for the following one (out in the UK next week) so I bought the boxed set of books and read them all. George R R Martin is a genius! Really, to invent all those characters with their family histories, elaborate pasts and incredible adventures you have to have an extraordinary mind! The world he invents is as plausible as the one we live in – in the same way that Tolkien invented Middle Earth, George R R Martin has created a world that one believes in. I suppose it’s rather like a mixture of the English Wars of the Roses (up north), ancient Venice (south) and Greek myths and legends (east)... but then you have the strange dead who walk and other magical creatures beyond the Wall (further north). As a writer I am in awe of his talent! Unlike most series of books the plot doesn’t get smaller as you reach the end, it just gets bigger... the world expands, a bit like the universe... and you are sucked deeper and deeper into the many many characters’ lives and stories. In essence it is a fight for power – a struggle for the Iron Throne – and I have no idea who is going to win it, although I have my favourite character who I want to win it! Tyrion Lannister being my most favourite... I suspect he is Martin’s alter ego (just a hunch) and Daenerys Targaryen. If you love the series on TV, or haven’t even begun, read the books; they’re even better!
Visit Santa Montefiore's website.

--Marshal Zeringue