Duchess of Cornwall picks three female authors among her first book club novels

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4-min read

Watch: Duchess of Cornwall launches her first season of the Reading Room

The Duchess of Cornwall has chosen three female authors, including Hilary Mantel, as she launches the first books in her Instagram book club.

Camilla, 72, set up a “reading room” initiative at the end of 2020, through which she is planning to recommend books and provide resources for people to discuss them with friends.

Earlier this month she shared her love of Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse, along with a mini kit, and a video call with the author.

On Friday she released the first four titles for season one of the reading room, and included Booker Prize-winner Mantel’s third Wolf Hall novel The Mirror And The Light alongside Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY JANUARY 15 Undated handout screengrab issued by Clarence House of the Duchess of Cornwall on the release of The Duchess of Cornwall's Reading Room book club's first four titles.
Duchess of Cornwall on the release of her Reading Room book club's first four titles. (Clarence House)

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The fourth was William Boyd’s Restless.

In a video to welcome readers to her Instagram-based Reading Room, Camilla said: “To me, reading is a great adventure. I’ve loved it since I was very small and I’d love everybody else to enjoy it as much as I do.

“You can escape, and you can travel, and you can laugh and you can cry. There’s every type of emotion humans experience in a book.”

Mantel is one of Britain’s most famous writers and she is the first woman to win the Booker Prize twice. She first won in 2009 for Wolf Hall, and then in 2012 for Bring Up The Bodies, the first two instalments in her Wolf Hall series.

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY JANUARY 15 Undated handout photo issued by Clarence House Dame Hilary Mantel's The Mirror And The Light which has been picked by the Duchess of Cambridge alongside William Boyd's Restless, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak as the first four titles for The Duchess of Cornwall's Reading Room.
Dame Hilary Mantel's The Mirror And The Light, William Boyd's Restless, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak are the first four titles for The Duchess of Cornwall's Reading Room. (Clarence House)

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Mantel also shared some of her favourites with the reading room community, recommending The Haunting Of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale.

Two of the four books in the duchess’s first release also featured in her list of recommendations from April 2020, when Britons were getting to grips with the first lockdown.

Boyd’s wartime thriller Restless and Shafak’s The Architect’s Apprentice are the titles making their second appearance in the royal recommendations, this time with a Book Club Kit to help groups of friends read and discuss together.

In 2019, Camilla told Shafak she was one of her “biggest fans” when they met at an event to mark the 7th anniversary of National Literacy Trust's Books Unlocked programme.

The duchess was encouraged by the letters of support she received following her booklist in April to create the reading room, sharing her love of reading further.

Undated handout photo issued by Clarence House of an image by Jennifer Pattison for The Duchess of CornwallÕs Reading Room, a new photograph that marks the imminent release of her Reading Room book clubÕs first four titles.
The duchess released this photo, taken by Jennifer Pattison a few days before she shared the first titles. (Clarence House/Jennifer Pattison)

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She has been a patron of several reading charities, including the NLT, through her royal life and is passionate about encouraging a love of reading.

Speaking about her hopes for the reading room in another video she said: “I like it to be something that everybody could delve into and find something that suited them and enjoy it – I think it’s for people’s enjoyment.

“And I think they get more enjoyment if they can… see little snippets of authors and why they wrote the book.”

Each book will be highlighted for a fortnight, with information about the book and the author. The next set of books will be shared from the Spring.

The book club kits have been created by researchers at the Lockdown Reading Project, a collaboration between the University of Portsmouth and the University of Copenhagen to study how reading habits are changing in the face of COVID-19.