East Sussex writer Annabelle Thorpe has been a travel and features journalist for more than 20 years. Her first novel, The People We Were Before, was set in the Croatian civil war of the 1990s; her second, What Lies Within, in Marrakech. Her new hardback, The Enemy of Love, which explores life in wartime Italy, is out now (Head of Zeus, £20)

The book I loved as a child

Winnie the Pooh. I still remember my mum reading it to me at bedtime. You don’t realise it as a child, but it teaches some of life’s most important lessons – from the joy of friendship and the importance of being kind to the inevitability of change and loss.

The book that inspired me as a teenager

May I have two? The Great Gatsby. It was so hugely glamorous and so elegantly written. It made me long to go to New York and drink cocktails. And Little Women. I wanted to be Jo March; Alcott’s feisty, independent heroine. She’s still a great role model.

The book I’ve never finished

Moby Dick. It was required reading for my degree but frankly there’s only so much you can read about a whale.

The book that moved me most

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalil Gibran, which tells the story of two women’s lives in Afghanistan from the 1970s to the present day. He writes with incredible beauty and gentleness about terrible things. It’s always the first book I recommend.

The book I’m reading now

Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War 1944-45. I’m researching the sequel to my latest novel The Enemy of Love, set in 1944, when the battle between the Allies and the Germans really took hold. Fascinating and harrowing, it reveals a side of World War II many people – including me – know very little about.

Great British Life: The Enemy of Love by Annabelle ThorpeThe Enemy of Love by Annabelle Thorpe