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WHAT IS YOUR DEFINING MOMENT FROM A BOOK?

WIN A WEEKEND FOR TWO AT CHELTENHAM LITERATURE FESTIVAL

Some moments in some books have the power to make you laugh or cry, or even change your life. We would love you to share your defining moment from a book you've read. It could win you a fabulous weekend for two at Cheltenham Literature Festival, from 2 - 4 October. This fabulous prize includes two nights at the Montpellier Chapter hotel, with tickets to key Viking-sponsored events at this world-famous literature festival.

Curious to know which defining moment from a book was chosen by Viking's Managing Director Wendy Atkin-Smith and copywriters Cassandra Wilcox and Lisa Small?

You can read their stories below and send us your story by filling the form on this same page.

Wendy Atkin-Smith

I was a real bookworm when I was a child, still am in fact. And my love of books has never diminished. But when I was 10 or 11 my most difficult decision was to whether to buy a new record or a new book with my pocket money. The record usually won but mainly for the reason that I could borrow an armful of books from the local library. Housed in a great old building with higgled piggeldy rooms, the library was one of my favourite haunts. One day I ventured out of the children's section and into the room next door where the shelves were filled with detective novels. I started picking up the books - attracted by the covers, a failing I still have, and stuck my nose into Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie. I took it home and read it from cover to cover in record time. I loved it; a great cast of characters, a plot with lots of twists and turns and the case solved by a supposedly dotty old lady who had the cunning and ingenuity of the wiliest fox. My defining moment - knowing that my world had changed and a huge love fair with detective fiction was borne.

Cassandra Wilcox

One of my favourite books is the beautifully written 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' by the Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini. The story is full of 'defining moments' as it follows the lives of two Afghan women and how their stories intertwine. Without giving too much away, there is a moment at the end of the book where the older woman, Mariam faces her fate with the kind of courage and acceptance that makes you feel very small and insignificant. A moment of self-sacrifice that is so powerful, it moved me to tears. Moments like this really do put your life and all its petty problems in perspective. When you realise what people - especially women - in Afghanistan have to cope with, it makes you feel so fortunate and blessed not to have to suffer living in such an incomprehensibly harsh world.

Lisa Small

My defining moment comes from 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee, one of my very favourite books of all time. It's when, after a long time of making up scary stories about reclusive neighbour Boo Radley, brother and sister Jem and Scout, aided by their wildly imaginative friend Dill, discover that Boo is a gentle friend and not a frightening foe after all. Not only does he come to Jem's rescue one night when he is beaten, but it turns out he is the kind soul who has been leaving the children little presents in the tree for months. I think it struck a chord with me as when I was younger, like many children, I had imagined the old lady who lived down the road in a run down bungalow with an overgrown garden and several stray cats for company, a witch who would surely kidnap any trespassers and put them in the cooking pot. Especially children. Discovering Boo Radley's real nature taught me, at an early age, that just because someone is different, it doesn't make them frightening or strange; cruel, or unkind. Treat everyone as equal and give each individual, no matter how different they are from you, the benefit of the doubt. It's a lesson I have never forgotten.

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