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Books

Catriona Rowntree in the Book Club hot seat

Getaway presenter Catriona Rowntree discusses her favourite books in our new monthly Book Club feature.
What was the last book you read?
After reading a recommendation in this very magazine, I grabbed at the airport, en route to Tuscany, Frances Mayes' latest offering Every Day Iin Tuscany. To read her colourful description of her beloved region, then look up from the pages to see the very images in front of me was so inspiring. So much so, I made a pilgrimage to her hilltop town of Cortona, just to read the book in her favourite square. Thanks for the top tip!
If you could be any character in a book who would it be?
I love my courageous and charismatic women. Grace O'Malley (born 1530) from The Pirate Queen, takes the cake. One of the most notorious, powerful and remarkable women in recorded history. Admired by Queen Elizabeth I, she ruled not only the sea, but the men in her life too. I love her wild Gaelic spirit.

Review this month's Great Read and win *The AWW Cooking School*

What books can you remember from your childhood?
I was obsessed with reading about and then writing my own ghost stories. I just loved to scare myself and my mum thoroughly encouraged it with a never-ending supply of books. At 10 I won a prize at school and the gift was a book that became a firm favourite:... The Phantom Cyclist and Other Stories, by Ruth Ainsworth. Spooked the living daylights out of me! I dare your little ones to read it.
If you could take two characters from different books and put them in one book, who would they be and what would they get up to?
How about we take two of my favourite Isabel Allende characters and see what adventures and possibly passions get stirred up. Ines Suarez, the story of a real- life conquistadora who helped to build the nation of Chile and the swashbuckling hero Zorro. All that Latin Latin blood is sure to lead to some fiery tales!
If you could get your hands on the completely truthful autobiography of any historical figure, who would it be?
I'd dearly love to learn more about the extraordinary life of Queen Hatshepsut. There are so many dry, historical reads about this Egyptian phenomenon, who was clearly one of the most creative and powerful women of her time. I want the juicy goss on this lady and her tips for combining motherhood with running an empire would be most appreciated.
What’'s your favourite word in the English language?
Serendipity — just saying it makes me smile. Derived from the fairy tale The Three Princes of Serendip, who travelled and were always making discoveries by accident. This completely sums up the joy of travel for me, who knows what wonderful discovery each day shall bring?
If you were stranded on an island with only one book, what would it be?
As a former Brownie, I'm thinking Baden Powell's original handbook Scouting for Boys, which includes everything from adventure tales to advice. Campfire and first- aid tips would have me rocking that island in no time. You can never be too prepared!
Related video It's not difficult to convince Catriona Rowntree to visit a Pacific Island. This time her mission was to visit the Independent State of Samoa in the South Pacific. It covers the western part of the Samoan Islands archipelago and Savai'i and Upolu are the two large islands
What's next on your reading list?
Apart from the mountain of research for my next destination, I just grabbed (yep, from the airport again) a rip- roaring tale, The Bark Cutters by Nicole Alexander. It's Aan Australian family saga that centres on their historic country property. Hello — welcome to my world, I can't wait for take- off so I can start reading!
If everyone in the world could stop what they were doing for a week and read one book, what would it be?
A tricky question, but I'm thinking that if we could all just understand the basic principle behind The Art of Happiness, which is basically a long chinwag between the Dalai Lama and author Howard Cutler, our world would indeed be a much happier place. The message is simple, treat others in the same manner you expect to be treated and joy is found within you, not your McMansion or flash car. I feel uplifted already!
What do you think of Catriona's answers? Who else would you like to see in the Book Club hot seat? Share your thoughts below.

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