Book Marks: Sophie Kinsella
To start us off, we have none other than Sophie Kinsella, author of the recently published Finding Audrey.
There’s a moment in fiction which has always stayed with me. It consists simply of a sentence - but in that single sentence, the landscape of an entire novel changes. I’m referring to the heroine’s moment of clarity in Emma by Jane Austen:
It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr Knightley must marry no-one but herself!
For me, this turning point sums up all that is great about novels. As a reader, we have travelled with Emma, both inside her head and as observer. We’ve seen her flaws, felt her disappointments, winced with her at her more shameful moments and perhaps guessed at her heart’s true desire sooner than she has. And now, with a thrill, we have it confirmed.
Many film and TV adaptations have been made of Emma, and it’s true that the social comedy plays well on screen, the movie stars are very pretty and the settings are invariably sumptuous. But when you’re watching a story on screen, you’re one step removed. You’re guessing at the inner thoughts of the characters - helped by dialogue and violins and significant looks, yes - but never really knowing them.
For me, it is this factor which makes books so special: their directness. In my own writing, I’ve always tried to be as direct as possible. I write a great deal in the first person. My characters are very confessional. They share all their thoughts - sometimes relevant and sometimes random, sometimes noble and sometimes embarrassing.
I often think the relationship between an author and a reader is like a psychic super-power. The thoughts in my head are transmitted straight to the inside of my reader’s head without much to get in the way. I have a wonderful relationship with my readers – when we meet we often feel as though we know each other already – and I think that’s why.
And for that reason, despite all the other entertainments on offer – TV, movies, games - I think nothing will ever beat that one-to-one, intimate connection. Nothing will ever beat reading.