Best books ... chosen by Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse is the author of the international best-seller Labyrinth and co-founder of the prestigious Orange Prize, which honors the best novels in English written by women. This year’s prize will be announced on June 9.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Anchor, $16). Adichie, 2007’s Orange Prize winner, lays bare the Nigerian-Biafran war of the 1960s. Politics and history, a gripping narrative, and a poignant sense of time and place. Half of a Yellow Sun is an ambitious and important novel.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brönte (Dover, $3.50). Powerful and elegiac, Brönte’s masterpiece is a book I’ve read every decade of my life—in my teens for the passion and drama, in my 20s when I read it for school, in my 30s for landscape and descriptions of the Yorkshire Moors, and in my 40s while learning to be a novelist myself.

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie (Signet, $7). Since I first discovered Christie, at the age of 13, I’ve regularly reread her novels. This remains one of my favorites. Written during World War II but only published after Christie’s death in the 1970s, Sleeping Murder is the last of the Miss Marple mysteries. This is vintage Christie, with a twist.

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Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot (Mariner, $9). First published individually between 1935 and 1942, each of these four exquisite poems is linked to one of the four elements—fire, water, air, earth. Together they comprise an inspiring meditation on the human condition. The language is beautiful, lyrical, and timeless.

Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (George Braziller, $20). A fabulous slice of history, bringing to life a Cathar village in the Pyrénées at the beginning of the 14th century. Religion, faith, community—this started my literary love affair with the Languedoc region of France.

The Children of Freedom by Marc Lévy (HarperCollins Canada, $22). A wonderful novel of struggle and survival from France’s best-selling novelist. It’s the heartaching tale of two young brothers set against the historical backdrop of the Maquis—the rural Resistance, in southern France, to Nazi occupation. The Children of Freedom is clever and moving—read it with a handkerchief on standby.

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