Emerald Fennell is an actress, director, and playwright whose screenplay for the suspenseful dark comedy Promising Young Woman won an Oscar earlier this year. A stage musical based on her reimagining of Cinderella is currently playing in London.
Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel (2003).
Hilary Mantel is one of those impossible, once-in-a-lifetime visionaries. She seems as if she's descended from William Blake, or from a medieval ascetic. Her horror writing is peerless, and there is nothing quite so harrowingly visceral as her memoir. Buy it here.
The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous by Jilly Cooper (1993).
Jilly Cooper's bucolic world of picturesque cottages, adorable dogs, and hard-core bonking cannot be beaten. Kindhearted serial shagger Lysander Hawkley is one of the best in the irresistible rogues' gallery Cooper has created in her 10-book Rutshire Chronicles series. Buy it here.
The Complete Lyrics: 1978–2013 by Nick Cave (2013).
I write to music, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds are the band I most frequently listen to while I do. Cave's lyrics are just as much a pleasure to read as they are to listen to. Gothic, violent, and beautiful. Buy it here.
Nothing That Meets the Eye by Patricia Highsmith (2002).
Patricia Highsmith's stories are every bit as monstrous as her novels, and this collection of previously unpublished tales, written between 1938 and 1982, is seething with the exquisite, gleeful sadism that we expect from the author of The Talented Mr. Ripley. Buy it here.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989).
I love all of Ishiguro's books, but this Booker Prize–winning novel, about a love between a butler and housekeeper that goes unspoken, is the one that most effectively rips your heart out. A perfect story of lost love and regret, it is masterful at showing the foolishness — and, often, cruelty — that is at the heart of British restraint. Buy it here.
Persuasion by Jane Austen (1817).
"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late." There can't be a single confession in all fiction more devastating than this one. Austen single-handedly established the rom-com as we know it: Even Tim and Dawn, everyone's favorite couple in the U.K. version of The Office, are the love children of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth." Buy it here.
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