As part of Libraries Week, we spoke to Calibre Audio member and author Lynne Reid Banks about one of the books that helped shape her world.
When Ian Parsons, my editor at Chatto & Windus, first interviewed me about ‘The L-Shaped Room’, he said, “yes dear, very good, but you need to deepen your style”. He more or less ordered me to read ‘Middlemarch’ by George Eliot.
I tried. Honest, I did. But having had no tertiary education (apart from RADA) it was too much for me, so I tried another of her books, ‘The Mill on the Floss’, and this was much better. Still long, still ‘heavy’, but at least about characters I could identify with and learn to love.
Maggie and Tom were easy to feel for and ‘get into’. I didn’t know that the story of Maggie’s love for Phillip was based on Eliot’s own love affair with G.H.Lewis, a married man. But when I learnt it, it deepened my sympathy for her. Her, Maggie, and her, the author.
I haven’t opened the book for sixty-odd years, but I still recall the final lines of the novel and sense tears pending when remembering Eliot’s heart-breaking final words.
Lynne has written 18 books in our collection, which you can listen to here.