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Author Sandra Howard, wife of Michael Howard, talks lockdown reading and gives her 10 recommendations

A former 60s model, and now Baroness of Hythe, as she is married to former Folkestone and Hythe Conservative MP Sir Michael Howard, Sandra Howard's lockdown hasn't been that different to everyone else's.

At home in Hythe, she's shopping on Monday mornings so it's quieter; hasn't been able to physically see her sixth grandchild, born in New York last week, instead making do with Skype; and her regular book club has moved to Zoom - at least saving her the cooking she would have done.

Sandra, wife of politician Michael Howard, has just sent a new novel to her publishers
Sandra, wife of politician Michael Howard, has just sent a new novel to her publishers

And when she's not been out in the garden, also like many of us, she's been busy reading.

Though, unlike us, she has also just sent off her latest novel to the publishers and is waiting anxiously to hear the verdict on what would be her sixth novel.

Sandra said: "I just sent it off at the start of lockdown, so haven't been able to just sit and re-read and re-write. It is set in Cairo during the Second World War and is based on a true story, with the working title Love At War. It is always exciting, this stage of writing a book."

She says of her reading: "I am a very slow reader - just as I am a very slow writer! I used to read books quicker before I started writing; now I keep noticing how an author has done something."

And of her book clubs going virtual she says: "We used to have an evening and do a meal. It's my turn this week and so instead we will be talking about what I would have cooked. I'm a member of two book clubs, one I was invited to join a couple of years ago and my daughter joined too, and one with some old friends."

Have you had a love of literature in lockdown?
Have you had a love of literature in lockdown?

"It has been great to be in Hythe rather than London for lockdown. We have been able to be in the county and got in the garden. We have no complaints really."

Sandra Howard gives us her lockdown reading recommendations
Sandra Howard gives us her lockdown reading recommendations

Here are Sandra's Top 10 books she has either read, or plans to in lockdown:

1. The Siege by Helen Dunmore.

"I think this may have been her last book. It is absolutely beautiful. It is like poetry to read. And it is a good subject - the siege of Leningrad in 1941."

2. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

"It is very original and moving."

3. Small Great Things by JD Pickett

4. East West Street by Phillipe Sands

"It's non-fiction but the research is fantastic and it is really interesting. You have to persevere but it's worth it."

5. Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

6. Educated by Tara Westover

"Such a powerful memoir."

7. The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es

"One that's on my list to read."

8. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

"It's been in the Top 10 bestsellers list for some weeks."

9. Munich by Robert Harris

"It is a really good book about how Chamberlain tried to do a deal with Hitler.

10. Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts

"Actually Michael is reading it, but he says it's very good. It is very long though, so that's why it's No.10."

Read about the rise of online book clubs by clicking here.

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