Musings

Welcome to my Musings

My Musings are for readers, writers and those who love the magic of words. You’ll find snippets on a variety of topics: inspirational places and people, suggestions for readers, tips for writers, my journey as a writer, insights into my books, special previews.

Narrative Distance

Narrative Distance

The first time I learned about narrative distance – also called psychic distance – I was attending a writers’ workshop in York. It was a light-bulb moment for me. Workshop teacher, author and...

The Power of Nature

The Power of Nature

Thirty minutes from suburban Melbourne, as the road winds its way through native forest, we enter the tranquillity of the Dandenong Ranges. Mist rises from the forest floor. Late afternoon sunlight...

Architectural Gems: Past and Present

Architectural Gems: Past and Present

…the tarnished nameplate fixed to the wall: Begijnhof Sint-Catharine. Passing a gatehouse, they emerge into a large courtyard. Brick buildings on all sides rise three-storeys high, each façade...

Learning to Listen

Learning to Listen

Several years ago, with the aim of increasing my daily steps, I purchased a monthly audiobook subscription. With my trainers laced up and earbuds in place, I strode down the street listening to...

When Fact Becomes Fiction

When Fact Becomes Fiction

I was recently interviewed by a journalist about the release of my historical thriller The Engraver. The Dutch edition of De Graveur spins the tale of famous Baroque painter Rubens, his chief...

The ENGRAVER in Dutch

The ENGRAVER in Dutch

While I was writing The Engraver, I imagined most of the characters spoke Dutch to one another. The seventeenth-century protagonist Antonia chattered in Dutch to the family maid as they walked to...

Short and Succinct

Short and Succinct

I have turned to short stories for my reading fix of late. The long dark days of winter and enforced isolation due to the pandemic sees me wandering around my house, completing tasks while listening...

Pumpkin Pies and Sensory Immersion

Pumpkin Pies and Sensory Immersion

Whenever I smell freshly grated nutmeg, my mind takes me to the kitchen of my childhood home. My dad and I stand side-by-side with our sleeves rolled up, wearing aprons: he mixes canned pumpkin with...

What I'm Reading

July/August 2024
Atonement by Ian McEwan
The Good Wife of Bath by Karen Brooks

May/June 2024
Salonica Burning by Gail Jones
The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies by Alison Goodman
The Maiden of Florence by Katherine Mezzacappa
The Glassmaker by Tracy Chevalier

March/April 2024
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
The Cloisters by Katy Hays
The Winter Palace by Paul Morgan
It Takes a Town by Aoife Clifford
Restoration by Rose Tremain

January/February 2024
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding
by Holly Ringland
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani
The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

What I read in 2023

November/December 2023
The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
Shrines of Gaiety
by Kate Atkinson
Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith
Yellowface
by R F Kuang
The Naturalist of Amsterdam
by Melissa Ashley
The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater

September/October 2023
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
The Sparsholt Affair
by Alan Hollinghurst
The Lie
by Helen Dunmore
Two Women in Rome
by Elizabeth Buchan
The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks
Devil’s Fjord by David Hewson

July/August 2023
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett
The Sealwoman’s Gift
by Sally Magnusson
Thunderclap: A Memoir of Art and Life & Sudden Death
by Laura Cumming
Limberlost
 by Robbie Arnott
Klara and the Sun
by Kazuo Ishiguro
When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
The Dance Tree
 by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

May/June 2023
Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton
The Shipping News
 by Annie Proulx
Kindred
 by Octavia Butler
The Island of Sea Women
by Lisa See

March/April 2023
Spies by Michael Frayn
One Illumined Thread
by Sally Colin-James
Gulliver’s Wife by Lauren Chater
Persuasion by Jane Austen

January/February 2023
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque
The Candy House by Jennifer Egan
The House of Fortune
 by Jessie Burton
I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomons
The Royal Game by Stefan Zweig
Headlong by Michael Frayn

What I read in 2022

November/December 2022
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
The Tea Lords by Hella Haasse
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler
The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey
The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
The Flames by Sophie Haydock
The World of Yesterday: Memoirs of a European by Stefan Zweig
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

September/October 2022
Heat Wave by Penelope Lively
The Book of Form & Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark
The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna
Summer by Edith Wharton
The Europeans by Henry James
The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee
Haven by Emma Donoghue
So Big by Edna Ferber
The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith

July/August 2022
The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge
The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn
Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
How It All Began by Penelope Lively
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

May/June 2022
The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown
Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
The Curlew’s Eye by Karen Manton
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
Sell Us the Rope by Stephen May

March/April 2022
A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson
Matrix by Lauren Groff
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

January/February 2022
The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig
The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson
Address Unknown by K. Kressmann Taylor
The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl
Still Life by Sarah Winman
The White Book by Han Kang
The Artificial Silk Girl by Irmgard Keun
A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville
The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood
Widowland by C. J. Carey
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

What I read in 2021

November/December 2021
The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen
The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler
Snow Country
by Sebastian Faulks
Sorrow and Bliss
by Meg Mason
Mrs England by Stacey Halls
The Other Bennet Sister 
by Janice Hadlow
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
Gigi
and The Cat by Colette

September/October 2021
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
by Ocean Vuong
War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
No Honour by Awais Khan
The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

July/August 2021
The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
Orkney
by Amy Sackville
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
The Painter by Will Davenport

May/June 2021
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak
The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré
The Didomenico Fragment by Amor Towles
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce
Markievicz: A Most Outrageous Rebel by Lindie Naughton

March/April 2021
Love is Blind by William Boyd
The Unforgetting by Rose Black
Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim
Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

January/February 2021
The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
The Man Within by Graham Greene
The Break by Marian Keyes
Vox by Christina Dalcher
The Telling by Jo Baker
Dear Mr M by Herman Koch
Snow Blind by Ragnar Jónasson

What I read in 2020

November/December 2020
The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley
The Waiter by Matias Faldbakken
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Mr Mac and Me by Esther Freud

September/October 2020
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
Pew by Catherine Lacey
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
The Susan Effect by Peter Høeg
The Gypsy Bride by Katie Hutton
The Good People by Hannah Kent
The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

July/August 2020
Heartburn by Nora Ephron
The Foundling by Stacey Halls
A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier
The Dark Circle by Linda Grant
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

May/June 2020
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Lie With Me by Philippe Besson

March/April 2020
Out of Egypt by André Aciman
The Carer by Deborah Moggach
The Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Nutshell by Ian McEwan

January/February 2020
When All is Said by Anne Griffin
A History of the World in 21 Women by Jenni Murray
Happiness for Humans by P Z Reizin
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
The Magus by John Fowles
Mrs Dalloway by Virgina Woolf

What I read in 2019

November/December 2019
Travels with My Aunt
by Graham Greene
Midnight Blue by Simone van Vlugt
Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
Longbourn by Jo Baker
The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg

September/October 2019
Old Filth by Jane Gardam
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
Our Friends in Berlin by Anthony Quinn
The Innocents by Francesca Segal
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

July/August 2019
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
The Familiars by Stacey Halls
After the Party by Cressida Connolly
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
This Must be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

May/June 2019
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting
Stronger Than Skin by Stephen May
Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
Tin Man by Sarah Winman
The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

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