Penny Vincenzi, novelist: 'Somerset Maugham's writing is so stylish and his plots so perfect'


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

 I'm in my extremely untidy kitchen, surrounded by today's newspapers and yesterday's post, and I can see my small courtyard of a garden, very overgrown, bees buzzing in and out of the foxgloves and one of my daily visitors, a robin, perched on a bush looking in at me.

What are you currently reading?

I'm reading (as I always am) three books: All Change, by Elizabeth Jane Howard, the amazing finale to the Cazalet chronicles; The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, the funniest book I've read for ages; and A Room With a View by E. M. Forster; I'm re-reading all the books I've loved best as it seems a shame to have only read them once.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him

Somerset Maugham is certainly way up there with the favourites, because his writing is so stylish and his plots so perfect.

Describe the room where you usually write

My study is my favourite room in the world; it's Victorian like my house (oddly!) with a very pretty fireplace and two big windows, and my whole life is in it – hundreds of photographs of my family and every inch of wall space crammed with Polaroid cover shots, framed best-seller lists, prized invitations and yellowing notes bearing silly/touching messages from people.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

Alice in Wonderland; she was so tirelessly amazed by her adventures and friends and acquaintances.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Winston Churchill, for his incredible genius with words, and the way he made them work.

Penny Vincenzi's latest novel, 'A Perfect Heritage', is published by Headline