Oh, the places you’ll go…
December 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
I have wanderlust – I blame the books I’ve been reading.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor had me dreaming of a holiday in the ancient city of Prague, a chance to walk the meandering, narrow, labyrinthine alleyways soaked in culture and history. I was so inspired by her descriptions of the city in fact, that I took it upon myself to do some research, convinced it would be an ideal setting for my NaNoWriMo novel this year (which needless to say, wasn’t written). During this research, I learnt about Prague’s rather unusual political tradition, defenestration.
After Prague, I took off to New York City, staying a brief time in Provincial France with Glenda Adams’ Dancing on Coral (which I found a very bizarre novel).
Having abandoned Lark Watter in New York, I popped over to Guernsey shortly after World War II.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer was one of my most enjoyable reads this year. The story is told in a series of letters sent between a myriad of characters, begun by the charming writer, Miss Juliet Ashton shortly after the end of WWII. Slowly the horrors of the Guernsey German Occupation are revealed, but the Guernsey people are admiringly resilient and despite the hardships they’ve encountered, kind and welcoming. Life in Guernsey just seems beautifully slow and peaceful.
“There are rolling fields, but they end suddenly in cliffs, and all around is the moist salt smell of the sea. As we drove, the sun set and the mist rose. You know how sounds become magnified by fog? Well, it was like that- every bird’s cry was weighty and symbolic. Clouds boiled up over the cliffs, and the fields were swathed in grey by the time we reached the manor house.” (p. 158)
It just sounds like absolute bliss.
Most recently, I’ve been in Italy – the beautiful Cinque Terre region in 1962. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter is the story of an unknown American actress who unexpectedly appears on the shore of Porto Vergogna, the small sixth village of Cinque Terre that the rest of the region likes to pretend doesn’t exist. The blonde actress has been filming Cleopatra in Rome and after some devastating news, is sent to The Hotel Adequate View where she meets the idealistic young hotel manager, Pasquale.
The novel is beautifully atmospheric. I could feel the sunshine and the gentle lapping of the sea on the pebbled beaches coming off the page. The colours are bright with vivid Technicolor, giving the whole setting a surreal and fantastic quality.
So while 2013 hasn’t seen me travel per se, I haven’t stayed entirely still. Hopefully, 2014 offers the opportunity to sate my wanderlust physically. In the meantime, the pictures I paint in my mind will have to do.
Is there anywhere you’ve read about in the last year that you’re now itching to see?