No, I don’t mean which books you would take on your travels (if only! Travel, remember that?) Instead, I mean books which have allowed you to travel. Books can whisk us to different cities; countries; the past; the future, even different worlds. So, which books have enabled you to experience the sights, sounds and smells of a place without even leaving your sofa?
My first response to this would be Joanne Harris’s Chocolat. Set in the little French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, I could almost smell the cocoa and hear the rustle of wrappers in Vianne’s French chocolaterie. Harris perfectly captures the goldfish bowl of French village life, with the winds and the river bringing along the inevitable changes of the seasons and life.
Iris and Ruby, set in both 1940s and modern day Cairo, provides the backdrop for this historical romance. Author Rose Thomas skilfully conjures the chaos, hedonism and romance of life in an exotic location during World War Two. The novel is a riveting glimpse of expat life in Egypt, past and present, while telling the bittersweet experience of first love.
Mostly set in Cornwall, England, The Forgotten Garden follows one woman’s quest to discover her mysterious grandmother’s true heritage. The garden and the sea are central to the story. Such is Moreton’s power of description that I cold hear the waves crashing in the cove; feel the salty air on my face and see the winding road up to the cottage. This novel kept me up late at night; each chapter ending on a cliffhanger before returning to one of the three epochs it is set in.
So, with these three books I’ve travelled to France, Egypt and England, all from the comfort of my bed. It’s not the same as jumping on a train or plane or into the camper van, but for now it will have to suffice. There is a whole world to discover in books. Where will your next book take you?