Welcome to Valerie Keogh, author of The Perfect Life.
Having been an avid reader from an early age, these are some of the books that have stayed with me – some because they were influential, some because they were simply enjoyable but all because they remain books I love.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
My mother was a keen reader and often read to us when we were very young. We had an old copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – a hardback with a blue and pink design on the cover that I remember to this day. It’s a fascinating book for a child, so full of wild and vivid imagination. I still love it.
- Six Bad Boys by Enid Blyton
I read from a young age and worked my way through all the Enid Blyton books in the house. Six Bad Boys was one of my favourites. My childhood, although wonderful in many ways, wasn’t the easiest as my father died when I was five. Six Bad Boys deals with a child’s desire to have a happier home which resonated with me.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
One of my favourite books as a child. I loved the interaction between the sisters, the depiction of family life, the trials and tribulations of growing up.
- Grimm’s Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm
I loved reading these as a child, they spurred my imagination, took me away from reality.
- Crooked House by Agatha Christie
This was my first Agatha Christie novel. My mother had them all so I read and reread them for years but this first has remained my favourite. It’s a fabulous exploration of good and evil and whether both can be inherited. It’s full of misdirection which builds a sense of unease before reaching its brilliant ending. I credit my reading of these wonderful novels for my turning to crime (writing, of course!!).
- Why Shoot a Butler? by Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer is known mostly for her regency romances but she also wrote wonderful crime novels full of wit and wonderful characters. Mostly written in the ‘20s and ‘30s, they depict a world that is no more where men wore hats, women wore gloves and everything was very genteel. Why Shoot the Butler? is a wonderful example – a dramatic tale of upstairs and downstairs and a family’s secrets.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
From the writer of one of my all-time favourite books, The Stand, Stephen King’s, On Writing is part memoir, part masterclass on how to write and is one of the best how to books I’ve read on the craft of writing. It’s full of practical advice shot through with his own experience. A book to read more than once.
- The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
Radclyffe Hall’s stunning novel was published in 1928 and banned in the UK until 1948. The exquisitely written story of Stephen, it is a novel that was before its time about transgender identity. I read this in my early teens and it was an enlightening, eye opening novel to read for a young girl who’d been convent educated.
- Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
This is one of my favourite novels of the last few years. Kate Atkinson explores the concept of alternate lives and parallel realities. It starts with a stunning first chapter when Ursula Todd shoots Adolph Hitler, the story looping back on itself to describe possible alternate fates for the heroine. Brilliantly written, a challenge to read.
- Mapp and Lucia (series) by Edward F.Benson
If I’m asked for my favourite book, I have no hesitation – E.F.Benson’s Mapp and Lucia series of six novels are an all-time favourite of mine and I’ve recommended them to many people. He is a superb writer with wit, understanding and sparkling dialogue. He captures the snobbishness of an elite society through the characters of Lucia, Elizabeth Mapp and the wonderful Georgie.
How far would you go to maintain the illusion of The Perfect Life?
Appearances can be deceptive…
Molly Chatwell has a beautiful house, a handsome husband, two children and a job she likes. It all seems so perfect but when her two children leave for university, she realises her life has become dull and empty. When her husband refuses to go away with her, Molly decides to go alone.
But what should have been a relaxing break turns into a nightmare.
Back at home in London, Molly tries to put it all behind her but when the police arrive at her door and tell her that a body has been found with connections to her, Molly realises that her perfect life is under threat…
Valerie Keogh wanted to write for a long time but it was only when she saw 50 approaching that she decided it was now or never – she sat down to write a novel and hasn’t stopped since. Initially self-published, she signed a contract with Bookouture in 2018 and published two psychological novels, Secrets Between Us and The Housewife.
In 2019 Valerie signed with Bloodhound Books who published her Dublin Murder Mystery series – the fifth of which is due in November – and also the bestselling psychological novels, The Three Women and The Perfect Life. A further two psychological novels are planned, one due in September and the second in Feb 2021.