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My latest blog posts

A Christmas wish for you

Happy Christmas, dear reader! Wherever you are today, whatever you are doing, whoever you are spending time with – or missing – you are in my thoughts. I have made a Christmas wish for you.

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An end to libraries?

‘I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library,’ wrote Jorge Luis Borges. But, as John Lennon suggested, imagine that there is no heaven, no Paradise – no library…

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Dreaming of a white Christmas

‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know,’ sang Bing Crosby. But just why do we associate Christmas with snow, and how likely is snow on 25th December?

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Romantic classical music: My top five pieces

Music has such power to express romantic feelings: as the French novelist Victor Hugo wrote, ‘Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.’ Here are my top five romantic pieces of classical music – inspiration for my latest novel, Concerto, the love story of a pianist composer and a music therapist.

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An architectural tour of my novels

My love for travel shines through in my novels, which are set in countries I have loved exploring. Here I take you on a little tour of some of the wonderful historic architecture that features in my books.

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How important is originality in fiction?

‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ So goes the proverb derived from the Book of Ecclesiastes. Depending on your perspective, you may find this a comforting thought or a frustrating limitation – or, indeed, a challenge to which you will rise.

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The romance of the sunset

‘It is almost impossible to watch a sunset and not dream,’ said the English philosopher Bernard Williams. I quite agree: for me, the sunset can be so stirring and poignant and romantic.

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Writing for readers

‘Why does a writer write? Why hazard yourself? Each writer has their own answer to this question. Mine lies in my childhood…’

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Welcome to Cádiz

The day I first visited Cádiz I just knew I must situate a love story there! The Moors compared the city to a ‘dish of silver in a bowl of blue’, so vivid are the colours there. It is a lovely city; the most beautiful in Spain, I think, and so today I want to introduce you to it briefly.

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Collecting book editions

Confession: I have not one, or two, or even three copies of Jane Eyre. I have nine. Why collect different editions of the same book? For several reasons…

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Comfort from autumnal poetry

‘Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold — / Come change — and human fate! / Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound, / Can ne’er be desolate.’ The seasons are changing… but we can find hope and comfort in poetry.

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Literary cookbooks for bibliophiles

Love novels? Love food? Then you’ll love literary cookbooks! These collections of recipes inspired by works of fiction offer you a chance to not only imagine fictional words but get a real taste of them…

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Muse: The woman in the shadows

‘Maybe you could become my muse … what d’you say?’ So says the hero of my latest novel, Concerto, to the heroine. Umberto is a pianist composer set for superstardom; Catriona is his young and naïve neighbour who dreams of being an opera singer. The idea of being a muse… well, who wouldn’t be flattered? But does it mean living in the shadow of genius?

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My latest blog posts

Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo

‘Aida felt a familiar thrill of anticipation as she crossed the wide veranda and went through those hospitable doors; she’d enjoyed many happy times in this old hotel. Shepheard’s was an institution, holding its own unique place in the affections of all who knew and loved Egypt…’

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A caged bird? The place of a woman in 1940s Egypt

‘I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.’ So declares the heroine of my favourite work of English literature. Jane Eyre was published in the 1840s, yet a century later still a woman has to assert her right to independence in a man’s world…

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The romance of feluccas on the Nile

The beautiful landscapes of Upper Egypt, where I grew up, are so vividly etched into my memory. The Nile, of course, is at the heart of the landscapes, and one of the most romantic views is of traditional felucca sailboats gliding on these timeless waters.

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Egyptology: an enduring fascination

A passion for my home country of Egypt – its history, people and culture – is at the heart of my novel Song of the Nile. Of course, the ancient history of this land is particularly fascinating, and ‘Egyptology’ has wide appeal.  

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The poignancy of a homecoming

My new novel, Song of the Nile, opens with the heroine returning to her home in Luxor after an eight-year absence. For Aida, the homecoming is at once wonderful and painful.

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The Great Libraries of Alexandria

The new Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a treasure of my birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt. Not only is it beautiful and significant in and of itself, but it commemorates the Great Library of Alexandria built in the 200s BC, one of the most important libraries of all time. How could I fail to be inspired by such devotion to books?

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Finding solace in music

When the nights are long and the days short, when sadness beckons and hope is hard to grasp, when spring seems a long time away… there’s always solace to be found in music.

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My latest blog posts

Chic and elegant: Post-war fashion

After the hardships of World War II, it was such a luxury for a young woman to purchase new, fashionable clothes. So it is for Aida in Song of the Nile, when she returns home to Egypt and explores the fashion scene of Cairo.

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1940s Cairo – a colourful, cosmopolitan city

‘Englishwomen in morning cottons, French and Italian girls in summer dresses, young Egyptian women with black abbas wrapped around their heads, men in tweeds or long white kaftans, a majestic sheikh in richly embroidered silks’ – welcome to the melting pot of 1940s Cairo.

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Mysterious giants: The pyramids of Giza

‘Mute witnesses to centuries of history, presiding over the graceful shadowy sand hillocks of the Arabian Desert and dark clusters of palm trees, towering up into the clear sky.’ The pyramids of Giza – what better backdrop for the first kiss of Aida and Phares in my novel Song of the Nile?

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Ancient Egyptian jewellery

Beautiful Ancient Egyptian jewellery features in my new novel, Song of the Nile. Thanks to the gifts of her father, a keen archaeologist and Egyptologist, Aida has a huge collection of magnificent pieces: earrings, necklaces, bracelets, arm bands and headpieces dating back as far as the Hellenistic period.

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