Adjoa Andoh: ‘I grew up on classic adventure stories’

We were thrilled to welcome British actor, director and producer Adjoa Andoh onto the Women’s Prize podcast to chat all things books with Vick Hope. Star of stage and screen – and dubbed the ‘undisputed queen of audio and radio drama’ – Adjoa’s illustrious acting career spans over 30 years, and today she is best known for her leading role as the indomitable Lady Danbury in Netflix’s global smash-hit Bridgerton. Adjoa Andoh talks to Vick about the five books that have shaped her worldview, and she reflects on the ways reading has taught her to find humanity and beauty in even the harshest places.

Keep on reading to discover Adjoa Andoh’s brilliant Bookshelfie choices – and make sure to catch up on the full conversation here.

Just William

In Richmal Compton’s Just William the Outlaws plan a day of non-stop adventure. The only problem is that William is meant to…

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‘I always really resonated with William; I love his disrespect for authority, I love how he always manages to make himself right in any given circumstance … I just wanted to be in William’s gang.’

Green Darkness

England, 1552. Protestant king Edward VI has been on the throne for five years. Almost two decades after Henry VIII’s…

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‘I was in this youth hostel in the middle of the Lake District, so there were trees everywhere around us … I read it on my bunk bed, voraciously, and couldn’t wait to get back to my bed.’

A Question of Power

In this semi-autobiographical novel, Head tracks the protagonist Elizabeth’s struggle to emerge from the oppressive social situation in which she…

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‘It’s not a happy book and there’s no happy resolution either – and I really liked that … However distressed [Bessie Head] is in her heart, in her mind, in her spirit, she keeps writing … She left books that little mixed-race girls like me could come to.’

After Leaving Mr Mackenzie

A brilliant, yet brutal, portrait of a woman struggling to retrieve both life and love, from the author of Wide Sargasso…

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‘Lady Danbury would share my delight in the Pernod-drinking, Rive Gauche set; tragic but then with great big flares of fabulousness. It’s a sort of glamorous penury. Lady Danbury would certainly love the glamorous, she wouldn’t be so good on the penury.’

The Bluest Eye

Nobel prize-winning author of Beloved, Toni Morrison’s debut novel immerses us in the tragic, torn lives of a poor black family…

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‘This is probably my favourite book of all time … [It contains] one of the most breath-taking passages in any book I’ve read, because it says there’s a whole history of sorrow and survival and ingenuity and making beauty in hard places.’

You won’t want to miss the wonderful stories behind Adjoa’s 5 Bookshelfie choices – go on, listen to the episode in full here. We have plenty more reading inspiration from stars of the stage and screen, including Claire Danes, Minnie Driver and Kim Cattrall. Check out the full list of Women’s Prize podcast guests here.

The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.