In my good books... Gilda O'Neill
Her experiences while growing up in London's grimy East End in the Fifties have given Gilda enough material to fill 11 novels and numerous local history books. Now 52, she has been a scooter-riding mod, a City worker, a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and a school teacher.
She is now a full-time writer, diving her time between London - the East End, naturally - and Sussex. She says: "Asking people to pick a favourite book is like asking the to name their favourite child. It's impossible. These are my recommendations but they will probably change tomorrow."
Make Us Traitors (Random House, 6.99), by Gilda O'Neill, is out now.
NIGHTS AT THE CIRCUS
Algela Carter (Vintage, 6.99)
The Cockney heroine is called Fevvers. She is a musical artiste with a voice like clanging dustbin lids and she also has wings. This beatifully-written story takes you on a magical journey.
CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL
Glen Gold (Sceptre Books, 7.99)
This book is a reak cracker. It's about magic and a young boy who decides to become an illusionist rather than going to university. It's a romance and thriller, set in the time when theatre is about to be upsurged by television. Science is taking over and all the imagery is about the hidden power of storytelling.
THE JANET AND JOHN SERIES
Sorry to every teacher out there who will remind me about the rigid social mores portrayed but, to me as a child, Janet And John was truly magical. It was a key to a secret universe and, through deciphering each page, I was able to go on to enjoy Dickens and other classics.
A CHILD OF JAGO
Arthur Morrison (out of print)
This is a tragic tale of East End lad Dickie Perrit, who fails to rise up from the slums and is dragged further down. This was written just before the turn of the 20th century and drew attention to the poverty and degredation on the doorstop of the wealthy Square Mile. It is not a nice read by a very important book.
THE ITALIAN BOY
Sarah Wise (Cape, 17.99)
Wise documents the horrendous crimes taking place in London at the turn of the 19th century. She has a terrible story of trainee doctors at a London hospital who killed people to practise upon: the Italian boy was one of these victims. This is a terrific piece of social history, researched and written by someone as passionate about London as I am.