Expert’s view

Emerald Fennell: my six best books

The actress and writer chooses her favourite books, from Jane Austen to Nick Cave

Emerald Fennell, who won an Oscar for her screenplay for Promising Young Woman, will be speaking at the Hay Festival Winter Weekend on 28 November.

Giving up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel (2003)

Hilary Mantel is one of those impossible, once-in-a-lifetime visionaries. She feels like she’s descended from William Blake, or a medieval anchorite. Her horror writing is peerless, and there is nothing quite so harrowingly visceral as her memoir.

Fourth Estate £8.99; The Week Bookshop £6.99

The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous by Jilly Cooper (1991)

Jilly Cooper’s bucolic world of picturesque cottages, adorable dogs and hardcore bonking cannot be beaten. Kind-hearted serial-shagger Lysander Hawkley is one of the best in her irresistible rogues’ gallery.

Corgi £10.99; The Week Bookshop £8.99

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Patricia Highsmith’s stories are every bit as monstrous as her novels, and this collection of unpublished stories is seething with her usual exquisite, gleeful sadism.

Bloomsbury, out of print

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.

Penguin £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

I love all of Ishiguro’s books, but this 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.

Faber £8.99; The Week Bookshop £6.99

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. Jane Austen single-handedly established the romcom as we know it – Tim and Dawn from The Office are the love-children of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth.

Wordsworth; The Week Bookshop £4.99

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