11:12 am

IN CONVERSATION | Jessica Stanley

We've always loved Jessica Stanley - she's a clever, funny, warm writer, late of Melbourne, currently of London - and we've never been afraid to show it. She's featured here a few times (and even wrote one of our most popular city guides, to London). And, since we last spoke to her, she has gotten married and had a beautiful baby girl, Sunday. She's about to head off to the Italian Riviera for a much-earned summer holiday ("Sunday has never seen the ocean," she tells us), so we asked her to share with us her vacation, beach-side reading list. We also asked her to become the second person to dig deep and share with us their answers to the Proust Questionnaire. She said yes! Read her answers below.

 All photos | Jessica Stanley

Jessica says: What I’m looking forward to reading… Last time I went to Italy I read How Should A Person Be and it was revelatory! This time I’ll be packing:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 
Being alone, but knowing I’ll soon see someone I love.

What is your greatest fear? 
A tragedy I could have prevented.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 
Going for the jugular.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? 
Not listening.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? 
Felt something of an affinity as I walked round Churchill’s wartime bunker.

What is your greatest extravagance? 
Books and organic meat.

What is your current state of mind? 
Calm mastery.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? 
GSOH (people who prize their funniness normally aren’t).

Which living person do you most admire? 
My husband. 

What is your favorite color and flower? 
Navy blue; pink roses.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 
"Worst case scenario..." 

What is the quality you most like in a man? 
In addition to kindness: verbal dexterity.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? 
Being deeply analytical and strategic.

When and where were you happiest? 
On holidays in a cheap all-white hotel room by the sea.

Which talent would you most like to have? 
Being able to tell an anecdote.

What is your most treasured possession? 
A toy mouse I've had since my first Christmas.

Who are your heroes in real life? 
Everyone says their mum but mine actually is heroic. 

Where would you like to live? 
London Fields!

What is your favorite song? 
Jarvis Cocker on Top of the Pops singing "Walk like a panther." 

What do you value most in your friends? 

Who are your favorite writers? 
Easier to say books than writers, but: PD James, Alan Hollinghurst, John le Carre, Elizabeth Jane Howard, Virginia Woolf, Siri Hustvedt, A.S. Byatt, Nancy Mitford, Evelyn Waugh, Ian McEwan, Jonathan Franzen.

Who are your favorite painters? 
Easier to say artists than painters, but: Albert Tucker, Sydney Nolan, any artist who lives a brave life and their art embodies it. 
Who are your heroines of world history? 
The wives and secretaries and de facto chiefs of staff of the men who got all the glory.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction? 
Sherlock Holmes.

What is your motto?
Hissed scathingly to myself or others: "Just relax."
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