What secret are they keeping? You won’t know until the end, which will hit you like a ton of bricks

Here are some of my greatest literary escapes, which take the reader to new places without ever needing a passport


#1 Favourite Holiday Read:

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

A peerless thriller, in which Louise, a single mother and secretary, is drawn into a relationship, both with her attractive but moody boss, David, and with his wife, Adele, a damaged beauty with a mysterious past. Who is the abuser in this relationship? Who is the victim? What secret are they keeping? You won’t know until the end, which will hit you like a ton of bricks. I loved the way the suspense kept going right until the end, and how delicately the story walked the line between suspense and horror.


#2 Favourite Holiday Read:

Edith’s Diary by Patricia Highsmith.

One of Highsmith’s less well-known thrillers, this is a story of unreliable narrators, domestic unease and the blurred lines between fantasy and reality. I loved it for the wonderful voice of the narrator; her descent into self-delusion; the marvellous portrayal of the bleakness of domestic life in the ‘50s.


#3 Favourite Holiday Read

We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

The story of two sisters, living alone after the violent death of their family, in seclusion at the heart of a small American community. What is the secret that binds them? Why are they shunned by the community? And what will happen when their quiet life is threatened by the outside world? I loved it mostly for the delightful voice of the teenage narrator – probably one of the most appealing voices in American literature, and one of the most touching – and the marvellous descriptions of food that leap from the page straight to the tastebuds.


#4 Favourite Holiday Read

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The tortuous story of a boy who finds himself in possession of a lost masterpiece, and of what it comes to mean to him. I loved the marvellous rhythms of the language; the flawless characterization, the humour and the way the plot raced towards its inevitable conclusion… It helps you realise that is the journey, and not the destination, that really matters.


#5 Favourite Holiday Read

The Queen Of The Tambourine by Jane Gardam

A lonely woman, Eliza, observes her neighbour’s life from afar. Then her neighbour disappears…. I love this book because of the perfect characterization; the wry humour; the extraordinary detail given to every event and every person. I also love the voice of the narrator, her self-importance, her lack of self-awareness, and finally, the revelation of her essential vulnerability.


Joanne Harris will be at the Singapore Writers Festival, which runs from 4 to 13 November. Tickets are available on Sistic and http://swf3.peatix.com.

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