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Books: what the authors read – Jody Cooksley

Looking for some literary inspiration to get stuck into during this winter lockdown? We've quizzed local authors on the books they've been devouring - this week Jody Cooksley, author of 'The Glass House', shares her favourites.

It’s the middle of winter and we’re stuck at home for Lockdown #3 – the perfect time, then, to cosy up under a quilt with a good book. And who better to ask for inspiration than the authors themselves.

Surrey-based writer Jody Cooksley is the author of The Glass House, her first novel which was published in October last year. It’s a fictional account of the life of Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and her extraordinary quest to find her own creative voice.

Jody grew up in Norfolk but now lives in Surrey with her husband, two sons and two cats. She loves walking and running in fields and hills of Surrey, particularly Pitch Hill, where on a clear day the view stretches out to the Sussex coastline.

The Binding

By Bridget Collins
I’ve only just finished reading this one and I was so sad when it came to the last page. A book that you can escape into completely. An expertly told magic realist tale of an apprentice ‘bookbinder’ who takes people’s memories and ‘binds’ them into books before novelists start making fake versions. A clever exploration of the magic of books and stories and one which accurately describes novelists as ‘people who can spend days writing a long, sad lie without going insane’.

Uncle Silas

By Sheridan le Fanu
I could have picked any number of Victorian novels, those by Zola and Hardy especially. However, this novel is one that I re-read because it’s a masterpiece in tension and subversion. One of the original Gothic spine-chillers and an absolute treat on a Winter’s evening. Lyrical, beautiful and comfortable writing, the story will wrap around you and take hold in your memory.

Girl, Woman, Other

By Bernadine Evaristo

A brilliant and important contemporary novel, which bravely dispenses with punctuation to give you an amazing free-flowing stream of consciousness style. You feel as though you are inside the heads of the characters. Evaristo is an insightful and empathetic writer, telling a series of disparate stories from different viewpoints in a non-judgemental way. Stories that will make you think and, in some cases, inspire you. It will make you feel simultaneously understood, judged, conflicted, angry and proud to be a woman.

The Summer Book

By Tove Janssen
Many readers only associate Hanssen with her famous characters for children, The Moomins. But her books for adults are fantastic, some are darkly psychological, especially the short stories and all are written with a typically Scandinavian humour. The Summer Book has a wonderful gentle wisdom that gives life serious perspective. I often give this book as a gift.

All the Pretty Horses

By Cormac McCarthy
I could have chosen anything by Cormac McCarthy. I love his writing style because it is raw and sparse, not a word is wasted in his sentences. It takes me a long time to read one of his books because I have to read and re-read the sentences for their beauty. All the Pretty Horses is such a visceral, sad tale, perfectly matched to the barren setting. You will ache for the characters in their hurt and pain and the unfairness of life.


Jody Cooksley’s first novel The Glass House, was published in October 2020 and is available from WaterstonesAmazon, and local book sellers.

The Glass House is a moving fictional narrative of Julia’s quest to find both art and beauty and of her discovery of happiness through the lens of a camera. Set in India and the Isle of Wight, it tells the story of Julia’s journey from the depths of despair to notoriety, photographing many of the most famous literary, artistic, political and scientific celebrities of the day. Julia was a friend of G F Watts, the Victorian painter who worked and lived in Compton. In fact, he painted the portrait of Julia that appears on the book cover.

Jody’s second book, How To Keep Well in Wartime, is due to be published this year.

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