Known for such novels as The Birth of Venus and Mapping the Edge, this British writer was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for her 2009 work Sacred Hearts and won the Silver Dagger Award for her 1993 crime novel Fatlands.
After graduating from Newnham College, Cambridge with a degree in history, she worked briefly for the BBC and then traveled throughout Asia and Central and South America. She published her first (co-written) novel, Exterminating Angels, in 1984.
Her 2013 historical novel, Blood and Beauty, focuses on the Italian Borgia dynasty.
A native of London, England, she completed her early education at The Godolphin and Latymer School.
She was born in the same year as fellow British novelist Patrick McGrath.