From the author of The Dressmaker comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to the looms of Lowell, Mass.--and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love: The Daring Ladies of Lowell (Doubleday, February 25, 2014). Kate Alcott is the pseudonym for journalist Patricia O'Brien, who has written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. She lives with her husband in Washington, D.C.
On your nightstand now:
At first, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt was there--but it's too good to risk reading only a few pages a night and then dozing off. So I've upgraded it to the breakfast table, when I'm wide awake and ready to plunge into a great story--and stay there. Almost finished!
Favorite book when you were a child:
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) and all the adventures of Nancy Drew (Carolyn Keene). I used to fake being sick so I could stay home and read the latest of Nancy's wonderful adventures. I asked my mother years later if she had ever caught on. She rolled her eyes and said, "Yes."
Your top five authors:
Hilary Mantel, Edith Wharton, Wallace Stegner, Gabriel García Márquez, Jane Gardam (author of the wonderfully haunting Old Filth). But naming only five makes me feel disloyal to all the others I have read and loved and learned from.
Book you've faked reading:
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. I can be honest about this, because nobody I know understands it, with the exception of my husband.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson--her whole premise of living alternate lives, "what could have been," is magically intriguing. It stays in my head, and I am not above collaring friends and urging them to read it. And as for non-fiction: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson is both a great story and superb journalism.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. The original cover was of a deep blue sky with a horse flying gracefully over a wintery New York City. I saw it years ago in a bookstore window and rushed right in to buy it. It did not disappoint me.
Book that changed your life:
Little Women--if Jo could be a writer, could I? Why not? So from the age of 10, I didn't have a single thought about law school or anything else--I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to write stories.
Favorite line from a book:
I couldn't begin to choose only one, and again choosing feels like betrayal--all the books I've ever read, in our library, with lines underscored and fervent responses from me in the margins... forgive me. Okay, here's one: "Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the mastery of fear." --Mark Twain
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner--a lovely book of courage, love and passing time.