WHAT BOOK would farmer and writer Amanda Owen take to a desert island? 

WHAT BOOK would farmer and writer Amanda Owen take to a desert island?

  • Amanda Owen is currently reading The Bolter by Frances Osborne
  • She would take Swaledale by Marie Hartley and Ella Pontefract to a desert island
  • British writer said James Herriot first gave her the reading bug

… are you reading now?

The Bolter: Edwardian Heartbreak And High Society Scandal In Kenya by Frances Osborne. This was left behind by one of my B&B guests, and is not a book I would ever have sought to read but I am now thoroughly enjoying it.

Set in the roaring Twenties, it really is a rip-roaring story of a woman who scandalously married five times and abandoned her children in pursuit of romance and party culture.

I haven’t finished it yet, but it certainly gives the reader an insight into a world of high society and colonialism. The hedonistic, debauched lifestyle of the privileged set makes for an exciting and eye-opening read.

Amanda Owen (pictured) revealed that she would take Swaledale by Marie Hartley and Ella Pontefract to a desert island

… would you take to a desert island?

Swaledale by Marie Hartley and Ella Pontefract — these ladies were prolific writers and I have all of their books, but Swaledale is my absolute favourite.

It might sound a little dry in that it chronicles life as it was lived in the Yorkshire Dales in the first half of the 20th century. In fact, it’s anything but dull: they wrote expertly and meticulously without losing the human element, intertwining folk tales, dialect and picture-perfect description, capturing the essence of the people and the landscape so evocatively.

As a farmer and mother of nine, I’m always pushed for time so any book that can hold my interest and let me stop and start as it suits me without losing the momentum of the tale is a good one.

Their books are so readable, I can and do recount the tales to my children — I believe they teach them a lot about what shaped our landscape.

… first gave you the reading bug?

James Herriot. I was an avid reader from an early age but it was always factual books that interested me.

I liked encyclopaedias and dictionaries, particularly antiquarian and with pretty gilt bindings. It was my grandfather who recommended I read James Herriot.

I wasn’t convinced that something my grandparents read would appeal to me, but surprisingly the books bridged the generational divide and told stories I could relate to, all set in the familiar backdrop that was Yorkshire.

That they were made into the TV series All Creatures Great And Small made them even more appealing to me.

… left you cold?

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I just cannot get myself into a novel, no matter how well written, if it’s a story of events that didn’t occur and we would not like to happen.

I think my dislike for this genre stems from books I studied at school — Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was probably my downfall. There’s enough real horror and oppression in the world without imagining any more, and the whole idea of a dystopian novel depresses me.

Adventures Of The Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen is published by Pan Macmillan, £8.99.