I asked him if Mrs. Watts had ever read Great Expectations.
‘Sadly, no,’ he said. ‘She tried. But you know, Matilda, you cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person enthralled by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames. For me Matilda, Great Expectations is such a book. It gave me permission to change my life.’