Top books 2017

I often get asked for the titles of my favourite books and usually struggle to remember a single book I’ve ever read.

I probably read about 20-25 books a year and these are my stand-outs for 2017 (in no particular order). Each in its own way has brought me pleasure and/or sorrow and/or a laughter – all highly recommended.

The Yellow Villa

My new novel The Yellow Villa will be released in May 2018. It’s set in a small village called Cordes-sur-Ciel in the Tarn region of France.  I stayed in the area in late 2016 and was looking around for a house that my characters would buy ‘sight unseen’. I noticed this lovely old mansion on one of my many walks and used it as my model. How wonderful are the gates?!

I’ve seen the cover concept and the villa image is absolutely gorgeous – more news as it comes to hand!

Lane Cove Literary Awards

Earlier this year, I was very honoured to be invited to judge the memoir category of the Lane Cove Literary Awards. These awards are really well supported by the Lane Cove Council and local businesses with generous prizes on offer.

There were over 100 entries in the memoir segment to be sorted into long list, short list and a winner – quite a process but the standard was very high and it was an absolute pleasure to read all these stories.

The winner Bushwalkers Guide to Love and Other Worms by Linda Wells, was a real standout and there were so fascinating stories.

It’s great that writers get on with it and get their stories out there. Look out for the entry date in 2018.

Memoir Prize

Winner – Bushwalkers Guide to Love and Other Worms by Linda Wells

Highly Commended – War was Hell on the Home Front by Jim Brigginshaw

Highly Commended – La Miserable by Nikki McWatters

Highly Commended – Charlie and the Others by Tanya Vavilova


The Burns Bay Bookery Youth Prize (16-24 years)

Winner – Syria, No Not That Syria by Minass Richani


The Baytree by Ardency Senior Prize (Age 65+)

Winner – War was Hell on the Home Front by Jim Brigginshaw


Stone Real Estate Resident Memoir Prize

Winner – Whom Ringdoves See by Margaret Barnes


Back to the Parfumerie

As part of my research for The French Perfumer during 2015, I visited some perfumeries in London. One of these was Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie in the Salon de Parfums on the top floor of Harrods, where I spoke to the very knowledgeable maître de consultation, Benjamin Paul Mabbett.

I recently sent Benjamin Paul a copy of the book (which includes an acknowledgement) and was thrilled to receive in return some gorgeous shots he had taken of the book in the salon.

It’s wonderful when people are so generous with their time and knowledge, not for money or fame, just because they want to help. There is so much more you can learn from an expert in the field than simply reading about it online.

You can see more about my research in the South of France HERE