|photo: Stef King Photography
Natasha Lester worked as a marketing executive for L'Oreal before turning to writing; she is the author of The Paris Orphan, The Paris Seamstress and The Paris Secret. When she's not writing, she loves collecting vintage fashion, traveling, reading, practicing yoga and playing with her three children. Lester lives in Perth, Western Australia. Her latest novel is The Riviera House (Forever, August 31, 2021), a lush tale about priceless art stolen during World War II.
On your nightstand now:
One of the privileges of being an author is that I'm sent books to read before they're published, and right now I'm reading two wonderful historical novels that will hit bookstores soon. The first is Kerri Maher's The Paris Bookseller, about Sylvia Beach and her iconic Shakespeare and Company bookshop. The second is Laura Morelli's The Stolen Lady, which has some fascinating parallels with The Riviera House, and the story of how the Mona Lisa was hidden from the Germans during World War II.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I wanted to be Amy March with her blonde curls and artistic temperament. I probably wouldn't have minded marrying Laurie, either!
Your top five authors:
Taylor Jenkins Reid is always brilliant and I can't wait to read Malibu Rising. I also love Amor Towles, Kate Morton, Erika Robuck and Jane Austen.
Book you've faked reading:
We had to read Lord of the Flies by William Golding for English Lit when I was in high school, and I loathed it. I think I read half the book and then I couldn't force myself to read anymore. I just made sure to avoid any questions to do with that book for my exam, and instead tackled the questions about Jane Austen and Shakespeare, which were much more interesting to me then--and still are!
Book you're an evangelist for:
Circe by Madeline Miller. If it's possible to fall headlong in love with a book, I did so for this one. Gorgeous writing, a feminist tale that has you weeping and cheering for Circe, and a truly imaginative retelling of the classic myth. It's a book I wish I had the talent to write myself!
Book you've bought for the cover:
I purchased the Alma Classics editions of both The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald because the covers are truly stunning! They feature 1920s illustrations of flappers with fabulous dresses and, even though I already had copies of both books on my shelves, I knew I needed these editions, too.
Book you hid from your parents:
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. We passed this book from friend to friend when I was about 13. My mum is staunchly Catholic and I knew she wouldn't approve of it, but I was at first curious enough about the story--and then became so addicted to the series--that I smuggled it to and from school in my backpack each day, reading it in my lap in class when I was supposed to be solving algebraic equations.
Book that changed your life:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I read this when I was about 13 and it was the first time I understood what the word passion truly meant. Before Jane Eyre it had just been a word; after reading the book it became something I longed to experience. I always joke that my penchant for dark-haired heroes can be traced back to my Rochester infatuation.
Favorite line from a book:
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood is one of my most favourite books and I could probably list 100 lines I love but I'll stick with this one: "She imagines him dreaming of her, as she is dreaming of him. Through a sky the color of wet slate they fly towards each other on dark invisible wings." Swoon!
Five books you'll never part with:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë for the reasons explained above; The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, also explained above; Persuasion by Jane Austen, which I read time and time again and always find more in the story to admire; The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern because it is a breathtakingly immersive read; and Christian Dior 1947-1957 by Assouline, which is a hefty but sumptuous tome full of stunning pictures of extraordinary Dior gowns. I know I can always find something beautiful in there whenever my soul needs a balm.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Atonement by Ian McEwan. I remember feeling such a punch of shock when I reached the twist in that book, such of sense of wanting to reach in and shake the pages of the book to change things back to how I wanted them to be. I don't think it's possible to read that book again and experience the same sense of its power because you know too much. It's rare that a book affects me so viscerally.