Claire Tomalin’s favorite fictional heroine? It must be Natasha in ‘War and Peace’
Biography is difficult, it is probably best to organize it by subject. I also have a section for feminist books. And a shelf of precious original editions. It is impossible to have a completely logical and clear system. Art books are of course separate.
What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
I don’t think I have anything surprising on my shelves.
What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?
The best book I have ever received is the first: “The Tale of Tom Kitten” by Beatrix Potter, which was given to me by the nurse who treated me in the hospital when I was almost 5 years old. years, I think. It’s a good book.
Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? Your favorite anti-hero or villain?
My favorite heroine has to be Natasha in “War and Peace” – joined of course by Emma, ââElizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, Marianne – well, enough is enough. We all love heroines who don’t always behave well.
Among the rascals, I like Thomas Mann’s Felix Krull. Heathcliff, of course.
What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors mean the most to you?
I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid (that was during WWII). I was reading Anna Sewell’s âBlack Beautyâ when war broke out and immediately worried about the horses. âWuthering Heightsâ and âJane Eyreâ, of course. I read âSans Familleâ by Hector Malot, a great French novel about a single child, published in 1878. Poetry: Ronsard, Yeats, Tennyson, Shakespeare (my dear mother gave me a complete Shakespeare for my 11th birthday , with the poems as well as the plays – and I have read and read it).
How have your reading tastes changed over time?
I don’t think my literary tastes have changed much over time. It’s always a pleasure to find a good new book to read. I read history and also current politics now.
What do you plan to read next?
My husband, Michael Frayn, is finishing a book and I hope to read the typed text next.