I adored Enid Blyton as a child and devoured all her Famous Five and Secret Seven books when I was very young. Agatha Christie’s mysteries were a huge favourite in my early teens, too.
But if I had to name the book I treasured most when I was growing up I would say Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The story of the four lively March sisters – Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy – appealed to me on so many levels, not least because, like the author, I am the second of four daughters myself.
The book is semi-autobiographical, drawn from Alcott’s childhood memories, and written in a wonderfully easy, direct style. Alcott, unequivocally, is Jo, the fearless, impatient girl (and aspiring writer) who longs “to do daring things”, and who struggles to escape the Victorian prison of her gender. In my mind I was Jo March too. She taught me that me that, girl or boy, you can do anything you want to do.