Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 23 July 2012

Women of a Dangerous Age - Fanny Blake - Guest Author Q&A!

I am thrilled to welcome author Fanny Blake to the blog today!

Fanny is the Books Editor of Women & Home magazine, and recently her second novel, Women of a Dangerous Age, was published by Blue Door, an imprint of HarperCollins. 

You can connect with Fanny Blake on Twitter @FannyBlake1 and through

My review of Women of a Dangerous Age is coming soon.

Synopsis from the publisher:

Can you ever truly escape from the mistakes of the past?
Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Buchan, Elizabeth Noble and Katie Fforde this is a warm and witty novel about women, relationships and why it’s never too late to change.
Lou is married to a man who no longer loves her. It’s time to move on, to begin a new business venture and to start her life over.
To celebrate her new-found freedom, she travels to India, where, in front of the Taj Mahal, she befriends Ali after taking each other’s photographs on ‘that’ bench.
Ali is a serial mistress. But when she returns home, she discovers her latest lover is not the man she took him for. She too needs a new beginning.
As Lou and Ali put their pasts behind them, they start to discover new possibilities for life and for love, until the shocking realisation that they have far more in common than they thought.

* Q&A with Fanny Blake *

·         ‘Women of a Dangerous Age’, your new novel, depicts two women, Lou and Ali, who are both facing major changes or turning points in their lives when they become friends. Could you tell us a little more about your inspiration for the novel and your motivation for writing it please?

I wanted to write about a woman who had reached one of those turning points when she looks at her life and thinks, ‘Is this it?’ Does there come a point when it’s too late to change? As I mulled it over, Lou and Ali came into my head, two women at quite different turning points. Lou is leaving her marriage and wanting independence while Ali is looking for commitment. They make friends in India but when they get home, a revelation threatens their friendship. I wanted to write about women of a certain age, about the importance of friendship and the possibilities for change.

·         I love reading which books have been recommended and featured every month in Woman & Home Magazine. As the Books Editor of the magazine, do you have a large number of new books to read all year round, and is it difficult choosing what to feature in each issue?

Thanks. That’s really good to hear. Yes, the postman arrives with anything between three to ten proofs of new novels to be published later in the year. Opening them means it’s a bit like Christmas every day. It is difficult to choose what to feature, because there’s never enough room to include all I’d like. However, I try to feature as many different kinds of novel as possible – eg crime, historical, literary debuts, brand-name fiction – so there’s something on there for everyone. Selecting them that way does help narrow it down.

·         Have you always loved to read since being a child? Have you noticed your reading tastes change over the years?

I remember once my sister and I were put to sleep in a caravan parked in the drive of my parents’ friends’ house. While they had dinner, I was left with a pile of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven books. I’d never heard of them but I was completely gripped. After that, I never looked back. I’ve always had a very wide-ranging taste in reading. If anything, it grew even wider over the many years I worked as an editor and publisher. The only fiction I’m not very comfortable with is science fiction and fantasy. I was taught by one of my bosses that what matters, isn’t the category into which a book falls, but the quality of the writing and/or storytelling. If it’s good enough, the chances are you’ll be won over.

·         Have you always wanted to write fiction?

I didn’t think about it until I did so I suppose not. Not consciously anyway. When I worked in publishing, writing fiction was definitely what other people did. They wrote and I edited. It wasn’t until I’d become a journalist and written several non-fiction books that I began to think that I could write a novel. I had several false starts. Perhaps because I didn’t really know what I wanted to write about. But eventually I hit on the characters and the theme of What Women Want, a novel about the importance of women’s friendship.

·         Which writers have inspired you, whether present day or past?

That’s so difficult to answer because there are so many I love to read. I couldn’t say who in particular has inspired me. At university I read and loved all those classics, Mrs Gaskell, George Elliot, the Brontes, Jane Austen and Dickens. But now, I tend to read and admire contemporary novelists such as Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver, Ian McEwan, Mark Haddon, Anne Michaels, Hilary Mantel, William Boyd, Susan Hill to name but a very few. I also read a lot of crime from Ruth Rendell and PD James through to Jo Nesbo  or Karin Slaughter.

·         What do you enjoy most about writing? What is the most difficult thing about it?

I love sitting down and escaping into a world populated by the characters I’ve created. There’s nothing more satisfying than making a particular scene work. At the same time there’s nothing more frustrating when I can’t get it right. The most difficult thing is making myself sit down and do it when I’m going through a bad patch. The worst point for me seems to be at about a third of the way through when I’ve got all the balls in the air and I feel like they’re all going to come crashing down. That’s when doing almost anything else, even the ironing, is preferable.

·         What is your ideal or perfect environment for writing? Is there such a place for you?

I can write anywhere - on a plane, a train, in someone’s spare room – but I prefer being in my tiny work room at home, especially when I’ve got the house to myself. The book proofs that keep arriving mean that the room’s a constant mess and it’s dangerously near the kitchen and the biscuit tin but … it’s very peaceful and overlooks the garden (which, to be honest, is a bit of a jungle) and I can hear the birds and the children playing next door. I’ve got my computer and an endless supply of peppermint tea to keep me happy. If I want a change of scene, or the kitchen’s full of people (a hazard if you’ve got grown kids still living at home), then I’ve just discovered the joys of working in bed. Always great – so long as no one else is in it!

·         Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment, in terms of writing – are you working on another novel?

I’ve almost finished my third novel. After that I’ve got ideas for the fourth and fifth as well, which I’m looking forward to getting to in due course.

·         If you could meet any fictional character, who would you choose?

Again, so many to choose from. But, today, I’ll plump for Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. She’s strong-willed, independent-minded and straight-talking. I think she’d be pretty interesting and fun to spend some time with.

Thanks so much for taking part in the Q&A, Fanny!


  1. Great post here. I always take note of the Woman and Home book reviews and I really enjoyed reading 'Women of a Dangerous Age' - good to read about real women in real time making it work ... Eventually!!

    1. Thanks MrsT for visiting and commenting! I really enjoying seeing what's featured each month in W&H.

  2. Fab post Lindsey, I still have What Women Want on TBR!

    1. Thanks very much for commenting Anne. I hope you enjoy that one when you come to read it.

  3. Fab interview! I really enjoyed Women of a Dangerous Age :)

    1. Thanks for commenting Kate. Glad you enjoyed that one. x

  4. Hi Lindsay, such a great author interview, my thanks to both yourself and Fanny.

    Nice to have met you, many thanks for stopping by at Pen and Paper.

    1. Hiya, thanks for visiting back, glad you enjoyed the interview :)

  5. A really enjoyable Q & A. Interesting questions Lins and thoughtful answers. Thank you!

    1. Thanks really glad you enjoyed it! x


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