Jane Lythell - Novels that Shaped Our World

Jane Lythell - Novels that Shaped Our World

As part of the BBC Novels That Shaped Our World campaign we helds events throughout February with three bestselling authors, to talk to them about the books that have inspired and influenced them and the role that reading has played in their lives. Find out the books that Jane Lythell recommended here.

The books Jane has been enjoying in lockdown:

Attica Locke – Bluebird, Bluebird

Anne Tyler – The Accidental Tourist

Ann Patchett – The Dutch House

“I tried to avoid dark books.”


The books and authors Jane read as a child:

Mary Norton – The Borrowers series

L.M Montgomery – Anne of Green Gables (and subsequent titles in the series)

“I always had my nose in a book.”


The books Jane enjoyed as a teenager:

Dodie Smith – I Capture the Castle (Jane’s first ‘grown up’ read)

Margaret Mitchell – Gone with the Wind

On Gone with the Wind: “I cried at the end.”


Jane’s favourite fictional characters:

Pip in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations

Elizabeth Bennett in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Maeve Conroy in Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House

Geneva Sweet in Attica Locke’s Bluebird, Bluebird

On Great Expectations: “Probably my favourite novel of all time.”


Jane’s favourite fictional detectives:

Sean Duffy in Adrian McKinty’s series of novels set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. (The first title is The Cold Cold Ground.)

Inspector Maigret novels by Georges Simenon - favourites include: The Late Monsieur Gallet, The Judge’s House, Maigret’s Holiday and Maigret goes to school.

Jackson Brodie in the series by Kate Atkinson. (The first title is Case Histories.)

On Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy novels: “They are gritty, realistic and dark and he captures the dread of those times, but there are also a few lighter moments.”


The series of books Jane has really enjoyed:

John Le Carré’s George Smiley series

Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb thrillers series

On the Jackson Lamb series: “I like to ration them because I’m enjoying them.”


Recommended novels featuring motherhood as a theme:

Penelope Mortimer – The Pumpkin Eater

Liane Moriarty – The Hypnotist’s Love Story

On The Pumpkin Eater: “It made a big impact on me.”


Jane’s favourite literary heroines:

Jane’s favourite heroine is Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Jane also likes Anne Elliot from Austen’s Persuasion, and Scarlett O’Hara from

Gone with the Wind.

“I like a spirited heroine.”


Additional titles that were mentioned in the discussion:

Albert Camus – The Plague

Raging Bull (film)

Jezebel (film)

Jane Austen – Persuasion

Ian McEwan – The Children Act

Deirdre Madden – One by One in the Darkness


Novels by Jane Lythell:

StoryWorld books:

 1. Woman of the Hour

2. Behind Her Back



The Lie of You

After the Storm


All of Jane Lythell’s novels and most of her recommendations are available to order via our library catalogue.

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