Sara Paretsky: ‘The story of Joan of Arc made me long for a vision’

The crime writer on enjoying James Joyce, rereading Charlotte Brontë; and diving into Wide Sargasso Sea

My earliest reading memory
I was six, walking home from school with a book that had the word “city” in it. I only knew the hard “c” and couldn’t figure out what a kitten had to do with the story.

My favourite book growing up
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I first read it when I was seven or eight. I was the only girl in a family of boys, and I loved immersing myself in the family of sisters. My family also had a lot of anger and volatility, and the thoughtful, attentive parenting Marmee gave her daughters offered a window into an idealised family story. The book appealed to me, too, for the same reason it appealed to girls 150 years ago: the four sisters quarrel, they have flaws, they love and support each other, they figure out ways to solve their problems. And the story itself is told against the backdrop of the American civil war, a history which continues to obsess me both as a citizen and as a writer.

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