Debut author Laura Shepherd-Robinson appeared at our 2019 Festival to talk about her novel Blood Sugar and the journey to becoming a writer. We invited Laura to share more about her literary inspirations with us in a series of guest blogs.

Books that inspired me to write #2: The Quincunx

Confession: I like long books. VERY long books. Aside from War and Peace, this one might be the longest I’ve read at a mahoosive 500k words. But my God is it worth it.

The Quincunx has a plot of immense complexity, with all the Dickensian themes: a disputed inheritance lumbering its way through the court of chancery; several questionable births; forbidden love; secret diaries; shocking murders.

Like ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost’, this is another book that plays around with structure, and had me marvelling at the ingenuity. Five interwoven families dominate the plot and each family has a quincunx, an arrangement of five five-petalled flowers, as their symbol.

This book taught me so much about the intricacies of plot, and the skill of weaving the main plot with relevant sub-plots. I love it, and just writing this has made me want to read it again.


Read more of Laura’s thoughts on The Quincunx at her blog.

Find out about another of Laura’s inspirations in her previous article for Derby Book Festival on An Instance of the Fingerpost.

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Derby Book Festival

29 May – 6 June 2020

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