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Kate Hamer: The Five Books by my Bedside

Posted on 2nd March 2017 by Sally Campbell & Martha Greengrass
Kate Hamer’s first novel, The Girl in the Red Coat, shot to the top of the bestsellers, described as a ‘21st-century Little Red Riding Hood’. Now Hamer is back with her follow-up, The Doll Funeral which touches on many of the same themes: parents and children, self-discovery and mental health delivering what The Guardian has called ‘an elegiac and uplifting novel about the indissoluble bonds between mothers and daughters and a reminder of how the imagination can set you free’. Hamer is certainly no stranger to the art of the page-turner, but what are the books that are keeping her from turning out the light? We asked her to give us a tour of her own bedside reading.

As my bedside is a teetering mass of books that threaten to topple over and wake me up in the night by landing on my head, choosing just five was no problem! These are the top picks from that pile.


  
Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew by Susan Fletcher

I can’t quite remember where I came across Susan Fletcher’s novel Witchlight, which is set around the Glencoe massacre and the luminous, half-feral figure of Corrag – reputed to be a witch but who does her best to save the victims. I found the beauty of the writing absolutely extraordinary so I sought out another of Susan’s books straight away. Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew is about Van Gogh’s arrival as a patient in the hospital in Provence.


  
The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins

I’m reading the proof copy of this that’s due to be published in June. The title is ridiculously apt as it’s keeping me up to the small hours as I’m racing through this gripping tale. Deliciously creepy and atmospheric.


  
The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Next on my reading pile, I’ve dipped into this already and it looks totally up my street. A story about a serpent rumoured to take human lives combined with gorgeous prose means that I can’t wait to dive into this one. A shout out to the exquisite design too – I reach out and stroke the embossed gold cover occasionally!


 
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Peter has a new book out – Her Every Fear - so it seems like a good time to catch up on his back catalogue. This was recommended to me as being ‘the best thriller I’ve ever read’ by someone who reads an awful lot of thrillers.


    
Grimm Tales by Philip Pullman

I’ve spoken a lot about how I’ve been influenced in my own work by fairy tales, in this collection Pullman retells many of the favourite classics and some of the lesser known stories. This is a witty and spirited reversioning – for example the prince gets insulted as a ‘lounge-lizard’ a ‘high-born mongrel’ by the furious witch in one of my favourite tales Rapunzel. Each story is followed by a background, similar takes on the story and some salient narrative points. I always love having a book of short stories by my bedside to dip into and this is my collection of choice right at the moment.

  

  

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