Olivier-nominee and star of Amélie The Musical – now on at the Criterion Theatre – reveals her castaway choices



Annabelle by

  Marie Laberge

This book is about 13-year-old pianist Annabelle’s journey through her teenage rebellion. I read this book a thousand times, it feels, when I myself was dealing with the struggles of teens. Her problems felt so big to me at the time – I remember reading the book and being aware of their intensity, how life could become so heavy with burden that one could find themselves no longer able to play their instrument. Having grown up in a home filled with music myself, this blockage felt very real to me – it was a language of pain I could very much relate to.

Everything is Illuminated 

  by Jonathan Safran Foer 

This book swept me off my feet. It follows Jonathan as he sets off to Ukraine in search of the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. The humour in the language of the narration, Alex the Ukrainian guide, who’s English is beautifully flawed, paralleled with a second, more poetic and surreal story line, that of the imagined memories of Jonathan’s grandfather’s lost Shtetl, works wonderfully to get you to laugh a real belly laugh and cry with sorrow at the thought of all the lost souls. It tackles identity and culture, by forcing the characters to question who they really are, to let go of old preconceptions. Trauma, memories, identity.

Memoirs of a Geisha

  by Arthur Golden

Another book that has followed me throughout my teenage years, one that I read so much, the front cover has had to be taped back in place. I remember dreaming of Japan, of cherry blossom trees, of evening tea parties. In moments of droughts in my life, I would often pick up the book and read the first few chapters. Having read it so often, all it takes is a page or two and I’m right back in that world I have created in my mind around that book.

A Little Life

  by Hanya Yanagihara

A harrowing book that I’ve had to put down and hide in the freezer for a month at a time, A Little life follows the friendship of four fellas from college years through to middle-age. A book of love, identity search, dealing with personal trauma…I have cursed many times, cried and dropped the book out of frustration, yet the powerful relationships and characters kept pulling me back in. Not one for the faint-hearted, this book really is a big roller coaster.

The Bear and the Piano

  by David Litchfield

Being a new mother, I haven’t had the luxury of reading a book for myself in quite some time now, however, we are reading the same children’s book over and over and over… The Bear and the Piano is one I never get tired of reading. The illustrations are simply stunning, and the idea of a bear playing the piano is absolutely delightful. A nice tale of music, personal growth and knowing what truly matters and who will always have your back.