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Kim Izzo is a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines. She is the co–author of The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Life and The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum. The Jane Austen Marriage Manual is her first novel.

Kim Izzo selects Five Books of Influence

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

How can I not select this great novel given that my debut novel is called The Jane Austen Marriage Manual? I first read it when I was fourteen. But it really hit home to me after watching the 1995 BBC adaptation with Colin Firth. Then I read it again and read it at least once a year ever since. I always refer to it. The language, the humour, the characters are so fully drawn, it's a perfect read.

Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara

His turn of phrase is so brilliant! But it is his ability to turn what could seem like a mundane moment - a drink tossed into a man's face - into a compelling, gut-wrenching and heartbreaking character-driven novel. I'm awed by his language skills.

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love The Great Gatsby of course (and cannot wait for the Baz Luhrman adaptation) but this novel struck me to the core when I first read it traveling through the South of France as a newly minted university graduate. The tarnished glamor of the couple Dick and Nicole Diver (apparently based on F Scott and Zelda) was so memorizing for me and I longed to be able to write a sentence as he does. My own writing is much more sparse. I had to admit that I was destined to admire Fitzgerald, not to write like him.

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

One of her lesser known works is my favourite, though I should admit I've devoured all her books! I found this novel about struggling to find one's place in society similar to Austen. Wharton, although so different in tone and style, is similar in themes to Austen. I must have an obsession with society morals and customs!

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

 I grew up loving the movie but a friend recommended the Pulitzer Prize winning novel to me in my thirties. Mitchell knew how to unravel a story and then some. Her structure and character development is intricate and page turning at the same time. I grew to love and understand Scarlett O'Hara in ways that I didn't think were possible watching the film. 

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