My novel Timed Out is usually classified as ‘mature romance’ or ‘women’s literary fiction’. (I snobbishly prefer ‘literary fiction’ though I know that doesn’t sell books.) It is about an older woman trying to turn her life around after she retires, doing Internet dating and also pondering again the Big Questions.
On its book page Amazon.co.uk lists three authors that people who bought Timed Out also bought: Salley Vickers, Leo Tolstoy and Thomas Hardy. I would love to meet these readers of eclectic taste. I struggle to grasp what Timed Out has in common with the works of these three famous authors.
I have read one of Vickers’ best selling novels, Miss Garnett’s Angel. Things in common: older woman protagonist, part set in Venice. But otherwise I can’t see much similarity. There are hints of religious faith in hers, as far as I can recall. Mine has a Humanist/agnostic thread.
Thomas Hardy is my least favourite of the great nineteenth century novelists (though I love his poetry). I read all his novels eagerly as a teenager but now I find them overwrought and melodramatic with characters I find hard to believe in.
Tolstoy is another matter. I read Russian at university and I still re-read Tolstoy’s novels and stories, and find inspiration and feel humbled. No one can write about happiness as he can – see Natasha’s first ball, or Levin the night before he proposes, when everything and everyone seems so remarkably good. Or create characters like these, and Pierre, and young Nikolai, and Natasha’s dancing father. I could go on and on… But the worry is, if someone has read Tolstoy, could they like my work as well? Are these the same people who have written the generous reviews I’ve been getting? I can hardly believe that. If I deserve five stars, how many does Tolstoy deserve?
I would love to have your comments. If you are an author, what is on your ‘also bought’ Amazon listing? And what are your thoughts? And if a reader who looks at these Amazon book pages, what do you make of the ‘also bought’ information?