Desert Island Books with… Lizzie Lamb

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Today’s literary castaway, stranded on a deserted beach with only five books and one luxury item to keep her company, is author, Lizzie Lamb. Let’s see what she has chosen from all the books even written as the ones she would like to be stuck with indefinitely, shall we?

Book One – Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer

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Hero Wantage is desperate to change her fate.

When the dashing Lord Sherry proposes out of the blue, Hero is overjoyed – she’ll escape a life as a governess and, once they wed, he can finally claim his inheritance.

But as Hero attempts to social climb in glamorous London society, Sherry is concerned that her naivety will ruin them both and takes drastic action.

The chaos that follows will push friendships – and hearts – to breaking point.

Before Pride and Prejudice hit our screens, Georgette Heyer was my go-to author for Regency romances. I bought my copy of Friday’s Child for 3/6 (17p) back in 1965 and it was passed round the sixth form as we laughed at the antics of the characters and relived their adventures. The characters and historical background of ‘the ton’ and the slang which Heyer has down to a tee are what make the novel for me. Especially Ferdy who believes he is being stalked by a Greek because he’s told that one day he will ‘meet his ‘Nemesis’. Also, who could resist unsophisticated Hero Wantage who agrees to enter a marriage of convenience with Regency Buck Lord Sheringham whom she’s secretly loved all her life. And, as is the way with these things, she reforms him and don’t they say reformed rakes make the best husbands? I used to re-read this book when I was feeling down or recovering from the flu etc. so it’s practically falling apart. I could buy a new copy, but where’s the fun in that? I’ve never tired of it so I guess it belongs on my desert island with me. Through its pages I can dance a cotillion, ride in a curricle accompanied by my Tiger and become the toast of the Bath.

Quite simply – Bridgerton, without the sex.

Book Two – Emily by Jilly Cooper 

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If Emily hadn’t gone to Annie Richmond’s party, she would never have met the impossible irresistible Rory Balniel – never have married him and been carried off to the wild Scottish island of Irasa to live in his ancestral home along with his eccentric mother, Coco, and the dog, Walter Scott.

She’d never have met the wild and mysterious Marina, a wraith from Rory’s past, nor her brother, the disagreeable Finn Maclean; never have spent a night in a haunted highland castle, or been caught stealing roses in a see-through nightie…

Yes, it all started at Annie Richmond’s party.

As a writer of romantic comedy, how could I leave Jilly Cooper behind on the sinking ship? Just as I’d finished reading all the Georgette Heyers and ploughed my way through historical novels thick enough to be used as doorstops, I discovered Jilly. Emily was her first romance and, back in the day before Amazon was a blot on the horizon, word of it spread via my book-devouring besties. As a newlywed, impoverished probationary teacher trying to renovate a wreck of a house after of a long day at the chalk face I needed light relief. Jilly provided just that. She described a world of fashionable parties in Chelsea, wild Scottish islands, highland estates, hasty marriages to impossible, irresistible heroes, glamorous ex-girlfriends determined to break up Emily and her new husband Rory Balniel. There’s plenty of hilarious escapades and Jilly’s delicious puns to keep me  turning the pages. There’s even a serpent in Eden in the form of Finn Maclean who threatens to wreck Emily’s happiness. The icing on the cake? I met Jilly three years ago at an RNA party and she was everything I hoped she’d be. She kissed me, called me Darling Lizzie and thanked ME for buying her books and remaining a loyal fan over the years. She’s the ideal companion for a desert island but if I can’t take her, I’ll take Emily along instead.

Book Three – Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson

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Our neighbours divide into the haves … and the have yachts.

Meet Mimi and Clare, two married women making the most of their Notting Hill postcode. New best friends, and close neighbours, that doesn’t stop them being rivals, in fact it compels it. Both are aspiring Notting Hill Mummies (Clare needs the baby, Mimi needs the six figure income) and, keeping up with all the area’s fads, fashions and fabulousness is a full-time job.

But the arrival of sexy billionaire Si in their exclusive communal garden strains loyalty to friends, family, spouse and feng-shui guru alike … and only one of them can win.

But who will that be? Clare or Mimi? Are they friends, or just…neighbours?

I adored the movie Notting Hill (1999) so when Rachel Johnson wrote Notting Hell I bought it straight away. It bridged the gap between one Jilly Cooper bonk buster and the next and, inadvertently, provided me with the inspiration for the opening scenes of my rom com – Tall, Dark and Kilted. The novel gave me an insight into the lives of those who shared upmarket communal gardens surrounded by three story houses in sugar almond colours. For that alone I’m taking it along with me to my desert island. In 2006, the year I took early retirement from teaching to concentrate on my writing, I bought a ticket which permitted me to enter the private Notting Hill gardens (including the one where the movie was filmed) and provided me with invaluable research material. There’s also a twist in the tail which I’ll pretend I don’t see coming. As for the novel, I’ve forgotten most of the shenanigans so it’ll be fun to reacquaint myself with Yummy Mummies, high achievers who shopped in Westbourne Road, midnight rendezvous in the bosky gardens, and the secrets the residents are hiding behind their shuttered windows. I’d love another chance to look round those gardens . . . maybe I will once I’ve been rescued from my desert island.

Book Four – Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford 

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The Mitford family is one of the century’s most enigmatic, made notorious by Nancy’s novels, Diana’s marriage to Sir Oswald Mosley, Unity’s infatuation with Hitler, Debo’s marriage to a duke and Jessica’s passionate commitment to communism.

Hons and Rebels is an enchanting and deeply absorbing memoir of an isolated and eccentric upbringing which conceals beneath its witty, light-hearted surface much wisdom and depth of feeling.

I was first attracted to this novel because I’d read about the Mitford sisters: Nancy, Deborah, Diana, Unity, Pamela and Jessica and their brother Tom in a Sunday Times colour supplement and was intrigued to learn more about the eccentric family. Jessica’s sisters (Diana and Unity) and her parents supported Hitler, Diana and her husband Oswald Mosley were gaoled for their support of the fascist cause while Jessica married her cousin Esmond, fought in the Spanish Civil War, joined the communist party and went to live in America. But Hons and Rebels it isn’t a heavy political treatise, it tells the story of a vanished way of life and reads less like an autobiography and more like a family saga. When I read it on my desert island I’ll be whisked away from the South Seas (that’s where I choose to be shipwrecked) to the misty Cotswolds, an ancient manor house, quaint towns and villages and experience once again the feeling of standing on the threshold of time (1939) aware of what lay ahead, even if the Mitfords didn’t.

Book Five – The Flight of the Heron (Trilogy) by D.K. Broster

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It is 1745, and the Jacobite rebellion is on the rise.

Ewen Cameron, a principled young Scottish Highlander, is destined and honoured to serve Bonnie Prince Charlie, the young Pretender, and to help the ‘rightful King’ ascend to the British throne.

Major Keith Windham is a career soldier with the English Army – seemingly the antithesis of Ewen. He is jaded, worldly and loyal to the Crown but, ultimately, an outsider.

Their fates are linked inextricably when a highland prophecy tells Ewen that the flight of a heron will predict five meetings with an Englishman who will cause him much harm but also render a great service.     

Ewen is sceptical, but the prophecy proves true when he meets Englishman Keith Windham – and a gripping tale of adventure, danger and true and lasting friendship is set into motion.

Both are men who are willing to die for their honour and their beliefs. Each is on an opposing side. But who will emerge the victor?

My last choice is a bit of a cheat because it’s part of a trilogy: The Flight of the Heron, The Gleam in the North and The Dark Mile. It is the haunting, romantic story of the men and women who, in 1745, joined Bonnie Prince Charlie after he raised his standard at Glenfinnan. A few years ago I visited Glenfinnan and looked towards the valley now spanned by the famous Harry Potter Bridge (aka the Glenfinnan viaduct) where  in 1745 Cameron of Locheil led five hundred clansmen through the valley, pipes playing and banners waving to pledge themselves to the Jacobite cause. In many way the book was a forerunner for Highlander, Braveheart and Outlander, but in my opinion it surpasses them all in depth and historical scope. It was also the first time I’d encountered Scots Gaelic and I learned some of the phrases by heart.  My copy has nine-hundred-and-fifty-five pages, so I won’t be stuck for reading material. There’s also a romance running through the trilogy, as does the unlikely friendship between Ewan Cameron and Major Wyndham, an officer in King George’s army. 

The books I’ve chosen show my love of history, comedy, romance and an interest in worlds/times other than my own. When I left teaching everyone thought I would write children’s books. Not so . . . However –  my latest novel, Harper’s Highland Fling, published November 2020 features a headmistress who . . .Well, I’ll let the blurb do the talking for me.

My luxury item

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Finally, I would take a machete with me to build shelter, fend off wild animals and make myself clothes out of large (!) flat leaves of plants I find growing in the jungle.

About Lizzie Lamb

Lizzie Lamb

After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed by Boot Camp Bride. She went on to publish Scotch on the Rocks, which achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon and her next novel, Girl in the Castle, reached #3 in the Amazon charts. Lizzie is a founder member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press, and has hosted author events at Aspinall, St Pancras and Waterstones, Kensington, talking about the research which underpins her novels. Lizzie romance Take Me, I’m Yours, set in Wisconsin, also achieved BEST SELLER status >travel>USA. Her latest novel – Harper’s Highland Fling – has been declared her ‘best one yet’ by readers and reviewers. In it, two warring guardians are forced to join forces and set off in hot pursuit of a runaway niece and son. She has further Scottish-themed romances planned and spends most of the summer touring the Scottish Highlands researching men in kilts. As for the years she spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste as she is building a reputation as a go-to speaker on indie publishing, and how to plan, write, and publish your debut novel.

Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband, David.

She loves to hear from readers, so do get in touch . . .

You can read an extract of Lizzie’s latest novel, Harper’s Highland Fling here and the book is available in ebook and paperback format here.

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After a gruelling academic year, head teacher Harper MacDonald is looking forward to a summer holiday trekking in Nepal.

However, her plans are scuppered when wayward niece, Ariel, leaves a note announcing that she’s running away with a boy called Pen. The only clue to their whereabouts is a footnote: I’ll be in Scotland.

Cue a case of mistaken identity when Harper confronts the boy’s father – Rocco Penhaligon, and accuses him of cradle snatching her niece and ruining her future. At loggerheads, Harper and Rocco set off in hot pursuit of the teenagers, but the canny youngsters are always one step ahead. And, in a neat twist, it is the adults who end up in trouble, not the savvy teenagers.

Fasten your seatbelt for the road trip of your life! It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Connect with Lizzie:

Website: https://lizzielamb.co.uk/

Facebook: Lizzie Lamb Writer

Twitter: @lizzie_lamb

Instagram: @lizzielambwriter

Pinterest: Lizzie Lamb

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25 thoughts on “Desert Island Books with… Lizzie Lamb

  1. Lizzie Lamb

    Morning Julie and thanks for featuring me on your blog. I’ve started re-reading Friday’s Child as its great escapism from the Pandemic. After a break of about a month I’ve started writing #7, also set in Scotland. Once we are allowed to ‘play out again’ I hope I can look back and say that I used my time in lockdown as best I could.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joan Davies-Bushby

      Thanks Lizzie for your excellent book reviews. I too was a big fan of Georgette Heyer at school and I’m inspired to read Notting Hell. It’s on my book list. You talk about irresistible heroes and none can be better than Rocco Penhalion, the hero in your latest novel Harper’s Highland Fling. I would definitely be taking him to my desert island. Already looking forward to meeting your next hero.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lizzie Lamb

        Thanks Joan, of course we could all do with a Man Fridays on our island but I’m not sure that Julie would let us bring one along with us. Hope you like my new hero as much as you have Rocco.

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      1. Lizzie Lamb

        I’d love to write the screenplay for Friday’s Child; great characters, hilarious incidents and a HHE ending. Very much enjoying reading it again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this. What a fabulous, entertaining post! (I wouldn’t expect any less from Lizzie Lamb!)
    She ‘a obviously very widely read (as shown in her own novels) with a gimlet eye for those details that make an author simply unputdownable. (Her latest is a real cracker!!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lizzie Lamb

      Thanks June, it’s funny which books stay with us, isn’t it? I know you loved The Dud Avocado, didn’t you? I must admit that I ‘soak’ up details in the books I read and file them away to be altered and re-used to inform my writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post, ladies, and some great-sounding book choices, Lizzie. Your descriptions have made me want to read them myself. Especially Notting Hell. Good choice of luxury item too – an all-rounder for sure! I loved all of your novels, Lizzie, and thought Harper’s Highland Fling was your best yet. Fab characters and such an entertaining story. Look forward to whatever you write next. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lizzie Lamb

      Thank you very much for finding the time to leave a comment, Jan. I think you’d like Notting Hell and the antics the inhabitants of those posh gardens get up to. As for the machete, you can see that I’ve been brought up properly !!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Superb post Julie, and as ever a thoroughly engaging and entertaining conversation with the amazing Lizzie Lamb. I can easily see how these fabulous books would be a great accompaniment to her sojourn on a Desert Island, perfect for her to re-read and start planning her next best seller … and her luxury item is perfect, as knowing how resourceful she is I am sure she will have secreted pens and paper about her person to get cracking. I absolutely LOVE all of Lizzie’s books, and cannot wait for her next novel, which I know is going to be another wonderful read! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lizzie Lamb

      Thank you, Adrienne. I did think about taking chocolate with me but that wouldn;t be much use after the first hour as I would’ve scoffed it. So glad you enjoyed my latest, Harper’s Highland Fling. I only hope my next one doesn’t disappoint. Mind you, I’ve got to write it first !! No pressure, then,

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Isabella

    Brilliant post as usual, Lizzie! I have only read Notting Hell ( and I really liked it) and I admire you for choosing only 5 books! My top ten would list at least 25 books LOL But I would definitely bring your Scotch on the Rocks ( wonder why LOL). 😍

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lizzie Lamb

      Isabella, I must admit that my five choices kept changing as I was making notes for this blog. Mmm, wonder why you chose Scotch on the Rocks as one of your choices . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  6. jessiecahalin

    What a fun idea for a blog post. Lizzie’s book choices made me giggle. I remember my Jilly Cooper reading phase and think it’s time to visit – perfect escape from these challenging times. But I do enjoy your books as the characters as like good friends you want to chat to. Looking forward to your next Scottish book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I haven’t read any of those, Lizzie, but they all sound fantastic, and there are at least three that I’ll probably buy this week. Thanks for the recommendations! I love Jilly Cooper’s Rutshire books, but have never read her “pre-Rupert” novels, so Emily sounds really intriguing. I’m fascinated by the sound of the Mitford book – I’m still reading Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford and it’s really good. And the Georgette Heyer sounds just my thing. I am pretty sure I read a couple of her books at school, but I don’t have any other memory of them. Time to investigate, I think! But then, the other two books sound really good too! So many books, so little time…x

    Liked by 1 person

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