Books: Inspirations Novelist Rosie Thomas

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The music

I have a great fondness for sombre strings, particularly Beethoven's late quartets. A year ago I was driving across central Turkey in the Peking to Paris Rally, listening to Pergolesi's Stabat Mater. It went so well with the magnificent, huge, open countryside.

The play

Under Milk Wood. At school, I was enthralled by the slyness and the comedy and the pathos of it, but most of all I was struck by the pleasure Dylan Thomas took in playing with words and voices. It showed that writing didn't have to be serious. It could be sexy and exuberant.

The place

The Suffolk coast from Aldeburgh northwards. I have spent many happy holidays there and I love the villages marooned in the landscape, and the skies that seem to stretch over an arc much greater than 180 degrees. The marshlands and shingle beaches have a dour beauty all of their own, and the bracing grey imperturbability of the North Sea never fails to soothe the spirits.

The film

Francois Truffaut's Jules et Jim, for a dozen reasons: it is ravishing to look at and Jeanne Moreau's face stays in the mind's eye for ever, it is perfectly structured and shot, and it tells one of the classic stories, the love triangle as well.

The artwork

I love Norman Rockwell's paintings for the Saturday Evening Post covers, particularly the wartime ones like Armchair General and War Bond. They have such tenderness and affection, and they deal with the comedy of ordinary lives without ever distancing themselves.

`Moon Island' by Rosie Thomas is published in July by Random House (pounds 5.99 pb)