Sasha Wilkins,founder of LibertyLondonGirl.com, and I were at the Chiswick Book Festival for a special Books That Built Me salon to celebrate the launch of her first book, Friends, Food, Family.
I first came across Sasha when I had just begun to write Mrs Trefusis Takes A Taxi and Sasha’s legendary blog was the, then anonymous, account of the ex-pat life of a British magazine editor, working, living, dining and dating in New York. Liberty London Girl became a synonym for smart, single, stylish and savvy – insights into the arcane world of fashion mixed with amusing anecdotes about the New York dating scene alongside musings and meditations about food and friends. Above all, it was Sasha’s warm, wise and generous personality that made her a star in the brave new blogging firmament.
A little over six years later, the online world has evolved: Sasha has left the traditional world of magazine publishing and anonymous blogging behind to build a successful dotcom business in LibertyLondonGirl.com, with a powerful social media voice and readers in 139 countries world-wide. What’s more, her love of bringing people together over food and good conversation has resulted into what promises to be a best-selling cookery book: small wonder You magazine pounced on the exclusive serialisation rights. Sasha is living proof that following one’s passions is the secret to success.
In those early days, when blogging was quite new, and twitter a minority interest, Sasha and I bonded over our love of books – a mutual, raging passion for Georgette Heyer, obsessive re-reading of I Captured the Castle, and so on. Her online support for Mrs Trefusis, and her subsequent actual Real Life friendship, is something I value very highly. It’s also fair to say The Books That Built Me wouldn’t exist without Sasha – the idea has its seeds in a long conversation she and I had on a wet and windy day in 2012 about the way books bring women together, and how childhood favourites sustain one in adult life.
Anyway, having watched Sasha’s extraordinary trajectory from fashion editor of The Wall Street Journal-AKA-anonymous-blogger to a bonefide dotcommer and author of a brilliantly useful book, I’m absolutely delighted she’s going to share her thoughts about her journey with the help of the books that have inspired her and informed her along the way.
THE BOOKS THAT BUILT SASHA WILKINS
1.Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking – her bible at University, Madhur Jaffrey’s brilliant recipes taught her the joy of cooking for friends and set her on the path to writing ‘Friends, Food, Family’.
Eastern Vegetarian Cooking
2.Alison Uttley – A Traveller In Time
“A door into the past, and into what it means to tell stories”
A Traveller in Time (A Puffin Book)
3.Georgette Heyer – all of them, of course – we talked about Venetia, Frederica, Arabella, Sprig Muslin, and The Grand Sophy, amongst others
4.The Group – Mary McCartney
“this is about being in New York, and discovering a brilliant group of women friends. It was given to me by my mother and I wrote a piece about it for Red magazine’
The Group (VMC)
5.Alison Lurie – Foreign Affairs
6.A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness. Sasha loves this trilogy for what it says about the importance of being brave enough to recognise yourself for who you are.
A Discovery of Witches: (All Souls 1)
Friends, Food, Family: Recipes and Secrets from LibertyLondonGirl
Published by Quadrille, Price £15.99