Life Stories: Fiona Hyslop
What was your favourite book as a child?
I loved the Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis – they transported me to another world, both the vividness of the description of Narnia and the powerful relatable characters – even Mr Tumnus and The White Witch got under my skin.
Which fictional character did you most identify with as a child?
Nancy Drew, the girl detective – she was brave and smarter than the Hardy Boys.
Is there a book which got you into politics?
I think my social and political consciousness was stimulated by reading books by George Orwell like The Road to Wigan Pier as a teenager.
Which book couldn’t you finish?
I try not to start ones I can’t finish! I did once start One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez but didn’t get very far. However, I then picked it up years later during lockdown and it ended up a complete distraction from the intense hours of government work. I thought it was brilliant and I finished it.
What is your favourite novel and why?
You can’t ask this – it’s like asking to choose your favourite child! If I had to pick, then if great art is what stays in your heart longest, I would go for The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
Is there a book you would recommend to other MSPs?
There is nothing new under the sun and politics now is surprisingly not too dissimilar to the past and what has been written about by Robert Harris in his trilogy on Cicero in the novels – Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator. The trilogy is now handily published as a single bound collection so that counts as one book. For MSPs who like a bit of historical context for the trials and tribulations of political life and political machinations and who like the characters, pace and the principles and practice of politics this is entertaining but uncomfortably truthful.
Which book would you be embarrassed about others seeing on your bookshelf during a Zoom call?
Oh, I think a Jeffrey Archer novel has unfortunately appeared on screen before now.