The idea behind the Classic Comfort posts is that each featured writer chooses a favourite title from the classics – we’ll define ‘classic’ as pre-1940 – and a favourite comfort read, a book they always return to, for whatever reasons. As third book in each post, we’ll have one by the writer.
This week, it’s Jennie Ensor, whose amazing crime thriller Silenced was my book of the year last year. I can thoroughly recommend it, and you can read more about it below.
Over to Jennie:
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce
I know, this was written in 1958, but it appears on at least one list of classic children’s books! I read Tom’s Midnight Garden as a teenager; it transported me away from the dull outer suburbs of London into a mysterious, magical world. It’s a children’s fantasy/timeslip novel. Tom goes to stay with his aunt and uncle in a flat without a garden. He hears the grandfather clock strike thirteen, gets up to investigate and finds a garden that shouldn’t exist with a girl inside it… This book entranced me – I hope to return to the midnight garden one day.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
When I first read this about thirty years ago, the book didn’t strike me nearly as much as the film did (which I’ve watched at least three or four times – stirring soundtrack, evocative photography, great acting). But recently I started re-reading the tatty paperback on my bookshelf. Perhaps with the benefit of those extra years, it’s affecting me differently. The English Patient is a story of desire and identity, with plenty of intrigue and deception thrown in, a fascinating mix. I love the poetry of the writing – I keep stopping to re-read paragraphs – and the dialogue is brilliant. Ondaatje portrays his characters so vividly, and conveys emotions like love and jealousy with such intensity.
Thank you, Jennie – I must read The English Patient again soon too!
Silenced is Jennie’s latest book, and as I said above, it blew me away. Here’s part of my Amazon review: “Mesmerisingly good; Jennie Ensor has written a real stonker of a crime thriller here…this book stayed with me for a long time after I’d finished it.”
It’s time to tell the truth… Whatever the consequences.
A detective must decide whether to reveal a secret that has haunted him for twenty-five years; a murdered girl’s mother must decide whether to tell police everything she knows; an elderly council estate resident living next door to a feared gang’s headquarters must decide whether she will stand up to terrifying intimidation.
Silenced is a chilling crime novel about fear and courage that delves into the core of Britain’s toxic gang culture.
A teenage girl on her way home from school is stabbed through the heart. DI Callum Waverley believes that the feared gang Skull Crew is responsible, but finds no one in the community who has the courage to help his investigation. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Luke is sliding into Skull Crew’s grip, along with his schoolfriend, Jessamine. As the boundaries between guilt and innocence start to blur, Callum tries to break through the code of silence that shrouds the case and bring down the gang’s sinister leader.
A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor writes daring, emotionally-charged psychological suspense and thrillers, and novels with a darkly comic edge. She began her writing career as a journalist and loves to tackle controversial issues in her novels: Islamic terrorism, Russian gangsters and war crimes in her 2017 debut Blind Side, a thriller set in the year of London’s 2005 terror attacks), sexual abuse and exploitation in her second, The Girl in His Eyes. Not Having It All: a wickedly funny, feel-good novel about love, lies and middle-age is a satirical relationship comedy. Silenced was published in December 2021 – a chilling crime novel with a strong psychological element, which ventures into the shadoy world of teen-exploiting gangs and police corruption.
Ms Ensor lives in London and sometimes SW France with her husband and their Airedale terrier. She writes short stories and poetry as well as novels. In her spare time (?) she reads, sings choral music, practices yoga and cycles the punishing local hills. Evenings, she’s often collapsed in front of a TV crime drama with a bar of chocolate/glass of strong alcohol.
Next month, we’re having Italy-based writer Helen Pryke with her choice of classic comfort books.