A Little Night Reading
What Sally Beauman has on her bedside table

I'm researching my next book, so I'm suffering from a surfeit of fact. At night, the reward is other worlds: fiction, letters. Like everyone else, I'm reading Philip Roth's The Plot Against America (Cape), that incandescent timely reimagining of American history. he conveys the political slide towards fascism with terrifying credibility. The scenes in Newark, the evocation of other Americas (the tourist route in Washington DC, a tobacco farm in Kentucky) are quiet, deadly and superb: Roth is brilliant on the conflicted loyalties, the fears of childhood. Next in a tottering pile is The Letters of Charlotte Brontë edited by Margaret Smith (Clarendon). I read the first two volumes when they came out in 1995 and 2000. This final volume covers the last three years of Brontë's life, during which she wrote Villette and married. Brontë is one of England's greatest letter writers, and here she bares her mind and her heart. Fiercely clever, the prose angry and unforgettable, the letters assembled with dedication and profound scholarship, these volumes will provide decades of reward. They are revelatory.

Sally Beauman's latest novel, The Landscape of Love, is published by Little, Brown on January 20th.

Sunday Times, 3.1.05