Caroline Woodward-Court: Khoollect’s Resident Book Reviewer

Khoollect book reviewer Caroline Woodward-Court is obsessed with books. She’s never without one. When you read her eloquently written reviews, it’s evident that she’s had her nose in one since she was a tiny child – her vocabulary is utterly poetic.

‘I was very shy as a child and I loved to lose myself in books, imagining myself into characters, situations and places. Books taught me to dream and then to act on those dreams.’

Where do you call home?

Cheltenham, and wherever my piano is. I moved here 18 months ago and I am hugely enjoying it. I love how friendly everyone is and also those bracing country walks finished off with a good ale in a cosy, candlelit country pub.

What’s special about Cheltenham or what’s it famous for?

For me it is the people, the honeyed colour of Cotswold stone and the stunning Regency architecture.

How do you choose which books you will read and review?

I spend hours in bookshops and libraries and I know I’m onto something when I realise I’ve been standing, mouth open, lost in a book for ages, completely unaware of my surroundings…then I think ‘oooh, this is GOOD’!

Bookshop

I also love to observe what other people are reading as they go about their daily lives, although this has become more challenging with the advent of the Kindle! Sometimes I choose a book for pure pleasure, but at other times because it challenges me and I can suddenly imagine the discussions the book might inspire.

Worst or most uninspiring read?

50 Shades of Grey… I mean seriously.

Ever considered writing a book yourself?

Perhaps. I am a great collector of anecdotes and an avid people watcher. I hope one day the inspiration will strike to link it all together and craft marvellous stories.

How did you get your job with Khoollect?

I think mainly through my excessive enthusiasm for all things art and literature!

What about your background? Tell us about your previous work history …

I have previously worked in fine art publishing and PR. This has ben interspersed with study at Durham University, La Sorbonne, the V&A, Christies and the Courtauld Institute.

Best Kept Secrets

I khoollect a few …

It would be fair to say I collect books. I have an awful lot. And letters. I love receiving and re-reading them. I also have an unhealthy love of jewellery.

Vintage Books

What’s your favourite item in your khoollection?

An old photo of my mum and dad, they had been dating a couple of months when it was taken and they are laughing until the tears roll, oblivious to anyone around them. And a Tiffany ring I bought myself a few years back. I saved and saved and it was a symbolic moment. And my battered copy of The Aeneid.

A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?

Believe in yourself and know when to leave a party.

Your go-to recipe for a busy weeknight, or tip for pulling off an effortless easy dinner?

I love entertaining but I always want to be out chatting with friends rather than preparing something complex. So, I’m afraid if you come for dinner it’s going to be hearty and happy cooking! I know it’s lazy but Marks and Spencer do these amazing veal meatball. Whip up a simple tomato sauce, fry off the meatballs, boil your spaghetti, pour a chilled glass of white – everyone’s happy.

Who’s your #khoollectcrush?

Gwen John. I think she’s a sensational artist, and her self-portrait (1902) is one of my favourites. I cannot help but be impressed by this woman who was so passionate and dedicated to her craft, in a career which was at that point still so largely dominated by men, not least her brother Augustus John.

Keep your eyes peeled for Caroline’s book reviews, and read her best picks for places to eat, shop and read in her hometown of Cheltenham.

Are you mad for books? Tell us in the comments below what you’re reading at the moment.

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Meet the rest of the Khoollect team

Editor-in-Chief, Rachel Khoo

Food Editor, Frankie Unsworth

Deputy Editor, Lara Messer

Social Media Manager, Rhia Chohan

Content Coordinator, Bex Shannon

Copy Editor, Sonya Gellert