As any voracious reader knows, there are so many books out there, it can be hard to choose just what to read next. So what could be better than a hand-picked recommendation from someone in the know? Every Wednesday the XOXOAD team likes to find out what some of its favorite authors are reading; today we’ve asked Wendy Leigh, author of the oh-so-sensuous Unraveled By Him to tell us!
Although I always have at least two non-fiction books and two fiction on the go, as my background is in journalism, I still read 8 newspapers every morning (The London Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Independent, The Sun, The Daily Express, The Guardian, and The New York Post) and on Sunday I read the equivalent, plus Vanity Fair, Time, all the fashion magazines and so on. I was both intrigued and slightly titillated to read an explicit interview with the French dominatrix, Catherine Robbe-Grillet in the London Sunday Times(a reprint of a Vanity Fair feature), and even more so to learn that the journalist who wrote it actually underwent a session with Catherine at her French chateau.
On the non-fiction front, I am currently reading Andrew Robert’s biography of Napoleon, a tyrannical, yet charming man, a conqueror, who was responsible for countless deaths, yet who was responsible for The Code Napoleon, the most humane and evolved laws passed until then. And equally as fascinating, his love letters to his wife, the Empress Josephine, which speak of the passion at the very heart of Napoleon, the Corsican peasant who – for a time – ruled Western Europe.
Reading a non-fiction portrayal of Napoleon prompted me to re-read one of the first adult romances I ever read in my life – when I was 11 years old: ‘Desiree’ by Annemarie Selinko, the story of Napoleon’s first fiancée, who – after he cruelly jilted her in favour of Josephine – married one of his generals and became Queen of Sweden.
I loved the book so much that when I was 12, I wrote a play based on it (fan fiction, I guess) and it was produced in my school. I was thrilled, and imagined that I’d be cast as Desiree, only to discover that, to my horror, I was cast as Napoleon! Nonetheless, I love the book and these days – about the tenth time I’ve read it – remain entranced by the love affair between Desiree and Napoleon.
I’ve also always been entranced by Jack Nicholson, whom I met briefly and who gave me an interview for my first book, “What Makes a Woman G.I.B*” (Good in Bed).” Which was partially why I am so enjoying the second volume Anjelica Houston’s autobiography, “Watch Me,” in which she writes in detail about her abortive relationship with Nicholson. But however much I love the book, as a ghostwriter, I wish that I could interview Anjelica, myself, and learn more.
Still on the non-fiction front, I have just finished “The Dark Net,” by Jamie Bartlett, a chilling expose of the sinister side of the Internet. A nightmarish world, and one which some would seek to destroy, and others to maintain – in the service of free speech.
The concept of dark and darkness brings me to “The Girl on The Train,” by Paula Hawkins, which is holding my attention, but still hasn’t quite managed to eclipsed “Gone Girl” for me.
Unraveled by HimWendy Leigh
"The day Robert Hartwell discovered my erotic manuscript is the day my old life ended and my new one began...Both of us are haunted by our demons; but if I pass his tests, together we could have a love we've only dreamed of."
Andrew Roberts’s Napoleon is the first one-volume biography to take advantage of the recent publication of Napoleon’s thirty-three thousand letters, which radically transform our understanding of his character and motivation.
An epic bestseller that has earned both critical acclaim and mass adoration, Désirée is at once a novel of the rise and fall of empires, the blush and fade of love, and the heart and soul of a woman.
Watch MeAnjelica Huston
Academy Award-winning actress Anjelica Huston writes about her relationship with Jack Nicholson, her rise to stardom, her work with the greatest directors in Hollywood, her love affair with her husband, and much more.
The Girl on the TrainPaula Hawkins
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.