Inspired Traveller’s Guides: Literary Places takes you on an enlightening journey through the key locations of literature’s best and brightest authors, movements, and moments—brought to life through comprehensively researched text and stunning hand-drawn artwork. Travel journalist Sarah Baxter provides comprehensive and atmospheric outlines of the history and culture of 25 literary places around the globe, as well as how they intersect with the lives of the authors and the works that make them significant. Full-page color illustrations instantly transport you to each location. You’ll find that these places are not just backdrops to the tales told, but characters in their own right. Travel to the sun-scorched plains of Don Quixote’s La Mancha, roam the wild Yorkshire moors with Cathy and Heathcliff, or view Central Park through the eyes of J.D. Salinger’s antihero. Explore the lush and languid backwaters of Arundhati Roy’s Kerala, the imposing precipice of Joan Lindsay’s Hanging Rock, and the labyrinthine streets and sewers of Victor Hugo’s Paris. Delve into this book to discover some of the world’s most fascinating literary places and the novels that celebrate them.
About the Author
Sarah Baxter grew up in Norfolk, England and now lives in Bath. Her passion for travel and the great outdoors saw her traverse Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the United States before settling into a writing career. She was Associate Editor of Wanderlust magazine, the bible for independent-minded travellers, for more than ten years and has also written extensively on travel for a diverse range of other publications, including the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Independent newspapers. Sarah has also contributed to more than a dozen Lonely Planet guidebooks.
Amy Grimes is an illustrator based in London. Drawing inspiration from nature and the natural world, Amy’s work often features bright and bold illustrated motifs, floral icons and leafy landscapes. As well as working on commissioned illustrations, Amy also sells prints, textiles and stationery under the brand of Hello Grimes.
Sarah is the author of the first book in the Inspired Traveller’s Guide series, Spiritual Places, as well as A History of the World in 500 Walks and A History of the World in 500 Railway Journeys.
Read an Excerpt
* * * Which? Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862)
* * *
What? French City of Light, squalor, revolution, égalité and Enlightenment
DO YOU hear the people sing? The angry men, demanding to be heard? Once, before these elegant boulevards ploughed through the congested slums, this city screamed with revolution; tight-packed, disease-festered alleys clogged with barricades and voices yearning for liberté, égalité, fraternité. Now, the avenues are wide, bright, brimming with bonhomie; the noise is of coffee cups chinking on enamel tabletops, breezes rattling the neat plane trees. These streets are elegance and amour incarnate. But once they flowed with blood ...
By the 1850s – when Victor Hugo was writing Les Misérables Paris was quite literally the City of Light. Around 15,000 newly installed gaslights illuminated the French capital. Night-times became safer; citizens were drawn to the streets at all hours - a pavement culture that endures today. But just a few decades before, when Les Misérables is set, the city was a far darker place. Paris may have birthed the I8th-century's intellectual Enlightenment but, for the impoverished majority, it was still rife with inequality and despair. As Hugo once wrote, 'He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo. Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic. Nothing is more sublime.'
Les Misérables contains all of those qualities. One of the longest novels ever written, it charts the travails of Jean Valjean, beginning in 1815, as he's paroled after nearly two decades in prison for stealing a loaf of bread, and finishing in the aftermath of the 1832 Paris Uprising, when Valjean finds redemption on his deathbed.
During this period, the city was still the 'old Paris' that Hugo loved, a labyrinth of narrow, intertwining streets, courtyards and crannies where characters could slip easily into the shadows. However, the city was also overcrowded, unhealthy and increasingly disillusioned: despite the world-upending 1789 Revolution, France seemed to be sinking back into aristocratic ways. Hence the Uprising. On 5 June 1832 around 3,000 Republican insurgents briefly controlled eastern and central Paris, an area spanning from the Châtelet to the Île de la Cité and Faubourg Saint-Antoine; barricades rose in the streets off rue Saint-Denis. But by 6 June the reinforced National Guard had stamped out the rebellion. Around 800 people were killed or wounded.
Hugo himself witnessed the riots. He was writing in the Tuileries Garden when he heard gunshots from the direction of Les Halles, the traditional market area with its warren of alleys (now replaced by a shopping mall). He followed the noise north, but was forced to shelter in passage du Saumon (now passage Ben-Aïad – closed to the public), while bullets whizzed past.
The city has changed immeasurably since. Between 1853 and 1870, urban planner Baron Haussmann razed much of the medieval city, replacing its ancient chaos with modern order: broad, straight boulevards, open intersections, public parks, harmonious terraces of mansard-roofed mansions. Avenues were made wide enough for carriages; they were also made too wide for effective barricades. The result was a city more homogenous, more hygienic, arguably more handsome but stripped of centuries of history.
Haussmann has certainly made it more difficult to follow in the footsteps of Valjean, his ward Cosette, her suitor Marius and the rest of Hugo's revolutionaries, vagabonds, gendarmes and whores. But echoes of his Paris remain. Most evocative is the Marais (the marsh), where there are more intact medieval buildings than anywhere else in the city. This neighbourhood on the Right Bank of the Seine survived Haussmannisation; it's still a maze of tight-knit cobbled lanes, easy to get lost in, and now jam-packed with bookshops, boutiques, bars and cafés. It's in the Marais that you'll find the Places des Vosges, a perfect, tree-lined square framed by arcaded 17th-century houses, one of which is Hugo's former home (now a museum). At the heart of the Marais is the baroque Jesuit church of Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis, where Marius and Cosette are wed; it's also home to two shell-shaped fonts that Hugo donated to the church after his own daughter married there.
The area to the west, the Latin Quarter, is another remnant of medieval streets. The Sorbonne, France's first university, was founded here in 1257, establishing this area as a studenty haven of intellectual thought and no-frills bistros. This is where Marius and his fellow revolutionaries would have likely spent their days discussing a new tomorrow over cheap vin rouge.
Nearby is the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris's second-largest park, and a leafy setting for love. Amid the Jardin's sparrow-twittering chestnut trees, Marius and Cosette first catch each other's eye. You can still walk the gravel paths, among the centuries-old pear trees and the statues of poets and politicians. One sculpture, Le Marchand de Masques (1883), depicts a boy hawking masks of famous people; the mask in his raised hand is the face of Hugo.
However the best way to sense the plight of Hugo's misérables is to descend into the sewers. For Hugo, they were 'another Paris under herself', a dank, foul-smelling facsimile with its own streets and alleyways. It's by descending to this abyss that Valjean rescues the wounded Marius – salvation via hell. Haussmann improved the sewage system but still, a visit to Musée des Égouts de Paris (the Paris Sewer Museum), following the raised walkways above the effluent, brings to mind – and nose – the Paris of Valjean.
Valjean dies at peace, and is buried beneath a blank slab in an untended corner of a Paris cemetery On his deathbed in 1885, Hugo asked to be buried in a pauper's coffin, but was first processed up the Champs-Élysées and laid in state under the Arc de Triomphe, before being put in the crypt of the Panthéon, alongside Dumas and Zola. In death, raised to hero; on the page, striving with the common man.CHAPTER 2
* * *
Which? Ulysses by James Joyce (1922)
* * *
What? The world in miniature, for the humdrum events of one epic Irish day
THE PUB is warm and beery. Grog glasses – drained, foam stained – scatter sticky veneer Red-wine lips, hoppy breath, a slurry of slurring; laughter like gunfire, craic-ing off the wood panels, mirror walls and ranks of whiskey bottles. Bar talk is of theology and adultery, literature and death, soap and sausages. Everything and nothing, discussed or daydreamed over a quick cheese sandwich. A nothing old day. But the stuff of life – infinitesimal yet essential – all the same ...
James Joyce's Ulysses – variously considered the most momentous, accomplished, infuriating and unreadable book in the English language – is the ordinary made extraordinary. It's a modernist reworking of Homer's Odyssey, but while the Ancient Greek poem tells of Odysseus's incident-packed return from the Trojan War Joyce makes an epic out of a single, unremarkable day.
Ulysses follows Leopold Bloom, a Jewish ad canvasser for The Freeman's Journal, as he wanders around Dublin on 16 June 1904. He attends a funeral, goes to the pub, ducks into a museum (to avoid the man sleeping with his wife), pleasures himself by Sandymount Strand, enters the red-light district. The novel is a chaotic stream of consciousness, performing stylistic acrobatics to try to render the human experience. But it is grounded in the streets of Dublin. Joyce, writing from self-exile in Paris, slavishly researched the physicality of the city. Though he seldom returned, he remained tethered: 'When I die,' he once said, 'Dublin will be written in my heart.
At the turn of the century the city was changing. The well-to-do had moved to the suburbs as the overcrowded centre decayed. Dublin had some of Europe's worst slums; almost one in every four children died before their first birthday A Celtic Revival was promoting Irish culture and language while in politics the Irish Parliamentary Party was pressing for Home Rule (rather than independence). But more radical movements were fermenting, and the Great War (1914–1918), Easter Rising (1916) and IRA violence were imminent. Though published in 1922, the 'action' of Ulysses predates this tumult. Joyce concerns himself, not with the struggles of nations but rather the little battles an Everyman faces, everyday. Dublin becomes a microcosm of the world.
Joyce's geographic diligence makes it possible to trace Bloom's footsteps. Start at No. 7 Eccles Street, Bloom's home, where he fries kidneys and contemplates his wife's infidelity The building was knocked down in the 1960s but a plaque marks the spot and the original doorway is preserved within a fine townhouse on North Great George's Street, now the James Joyce Centre.
O'Connell Street lies around the corner; a fashionable address in Georgian times, though faded by the 1900s, and damaged during the Easter Rising. No more the horse-drawn cabs and clanking trams; a stroll down its leafy central mall these days is accompanied by car din and a mishmash of architectural styles. Bloom wouldn't have passed Joyce, who now leans nonchalantly in bronze at the corner with North Earl Street, but he did note the monument to Irish leader Daniel O'Connell – 'the hugecloaked Liberator's form' – which stares across the River Liffey.
Bloom buys Banbury cakes to feed the wheeling gulls as he walks over the wide span of O'Connell Bridge, the divide between dingier north Dublin and the more affluent south. This crossing takes you and Bloom into the heart of Dublin, home to the Bank of Ireland (originally the Irish Parliament building), prestigious Trinity College (where Catholic Joyce didn't go), the National Library (where he frequently did). It leads to narrow, shop-lined Grafton Street, still gay with awnings, where locals and outsiders alike still come for the craic – Dublin's social essence.
Bloom is hungry when he hits Duke Street. His first choice, The Burton – establishment of 'pungent meatjuice, slop of greens' – is no more. But Davy Byrnes pub, a traditional boozer, first opened in 1889, still serves Gorgonzola sandwiches and glasses of Burgundy (Bloom's lunch of choice), providing a tangible taste of Joyce's sometimes indigestible masterpiece.CHAPTER 3
* * *
Which? A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (1908)
* * *
What? Resplendent Italian Renaissance city where stifled passions break free
FLING WIDE the casement windows and the essence of the city floods in. Fresh morning air carries church bells and wingbeats, barrows clattering on cobbles, the river murmuring below. Sunlight hits the room's red-tiled floor dazzles the linen, nurtures the geraniums on the sill. Leaning out, the view unfurls: a Renaissance masterpiece of golden palazzi and terracotta rooftops, speared by towers and a huge, impossible dome. Behind that, green hills braid and fade into the distance. The romance is palpable. This is a 'magic city', the sort where one might do the most extraordinary things ...
Florence is irresistible. In its 15th-century golden age, when it birthed the Italian Renaissance, the Tuscan city was artistically unmatched. Briefly, from 1865 to 1871, it was even capital of a newly unified Italy. As leisure travel became increasingly possible, well-heeled tourists flocked to appreciate its sights. Tourists just like Lucy Honeychurch, heroine of A Room with a View.
E.M. Forster wrote this sun-drenched romantic comedy in early 20th-century England, a place of stifling conventions for the upper-middle classes. The novel pokes a critical finger at the sterility and rigidity of Edwardian England. But it offers an antidote: Florence. The Italian city is all that England is not. Instead of structure, it is spontaneity; rather than pallor it is passion; rather than niceness, it is life. Today's Florence remains all of those things. The retreating Nazis destroyed the old bridges (except the famed Ponte Vecchio); the calamitous flood of 1966 ruined many buildings; the tourist throngs have become even more maddening. But this city – Unesco World Heritage-listed in its entirety – still has the power to enchant.
Naïve ingénue Lucy and her chaperone leave quiet Surrey for a very proper Italian trip, ticking off what the Baedeker guide prescribes. At the Pension Bertolini they are distraught at having rooms looking into a courtyard rather than over the Arno. Two Englishmen, who have river views, suggest a swap. And there begins Lucy's coming of age, a struggle between her old-fashioned upbringing and a fiery new independence. After only days she's witnessed a murder and had her first kiss. If England is vanilla, Florence is tutti frutti – all colours, all flavours.
You can't stay at the fictional Pension Bertolini, nor the hotel that inspired it. In 1901 Forster stayed at Pension Simi, on the Arno's north embankment, looking over the river to the cypresses of San Miniato and the Apennines' foothills. Pension Simi no longer exists. And anyway the outlook immortalised in the 1985 film of A Room with a View is from the Arno's south bank, looking over the rooftops of the historic centre.
However no matter where you stay you can walk, as Lucy did. The frame of central Florence has changed little since the Renaissance. It's the same compact jigsaw of narrow alleys lined with elegant palazzi, grand churches and medieval chapels. There are world-class art museums – the Uffizi, the Bargello – hung to the rafters with Titians, Botticcellis, Donatellos, Raphaels. Sculptures worthy of galleries can also be found scattered willy-nilly, lodging in loggia or guarding piazzas.
Just as Lucy does, you can turn right along the riverside Lungarno delle Grazie, past the Ponte alle Grazie bridge (the 1227 original now replaced by a post-war reconstruction) to take 'a dear dirty back way' to the church of Santa Croce. Lucy gets lost, drifting down streets, finding herself in the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, admiring the cherub reliefs that decorate the Foundling Hospital: 'she had never seen anything more beautiful'.
Finally she arrives before Santa Croce, with its 'black-and-white facade of surpassing ugliness'. A matter of taste, perhaps. This striking neo-Gothic frontage is a 19th-century addition; the basilica was founded in the 13th century, and its vast, austere interior houses matchless frescoes by Giotto and other masters, as well as the tombs of Michelangelo and Machiavelli. There's much to admire, and much satisfaction to be gained from appreciating the artworks deemed the finest – a bourgeois trait that Forster lampoons. But maybe, like Lucy, Santa Croce will leave you cold. Because arguably Florence is best not when studied but when felt.
Later; Lucy finds herself in the Piazza della Signoria, the city's main square and long the centre of political life. Dominated by the Palazzo Vecchio, it's a veritable outdoor museum; a replica of Michelangelo's David stands where the original did, before it was moved to the nearby Galleria dell'Accademia. It's in this piazza that Lucy witnesses a murder faints onto George Emerson and sets her life on a new trajectory Hopefully you won't witness bloodshed, though Cellini's statue of Perseus with the head of Medusa ensures a hint of the macabre.
You can also follow Forster's English folk - by bus rather than horse and carriage – to Fiesole, a tiny hill town just northeast of the centre of Florence. This is where Florentines come to seek green space, where the views of the Arno Valley are spectacular and where, given a chance, you should do as George and Lucy did and sneak a kiss in a field of violets.
Florence is culturally magnificent, from the priceless art at street level to the tip of the Duomo's cupola. But there's also the Florence of the senses, the city that comes alive when you feel its hot sun on your skin. When you loiter over lunch, take a slow passeggiata in the cooling afternoon, watch a pink-orange sunset, sip a glass of good Chianti. When you stop questing for information but think of 'nothing but the blue sky and the men and the women who live under it'.CHAPTER 4
* * *
Which? My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2011)
* * *
What? Southern Italian city of dirt and danger for two young girls coming of age
THE CLOSE-PACKED, dirty-white apartment blocks compress the stinking heat. It's a thick fug of frying panzerotto, ripening tomatoes, trash and urine, two-stroke engine oil, fish on the turn, neglect. Residents of the windowless ground-floor flats stand on their doorsteps, peeling vegetables, smoking cigarettes and gossiping in an impenetrable, passive-aggressive, sing-song dialect that rattles along with the passing trains. In spit-'n'-sawdust bars, disperazione – the hopeless – drink to escape. But somewhere a bell rings and children run from the schoolyard with their friends and their book bags and, perhaps, their minds on a brighter future ...
A darkness enveloped 1950s Naples. And it wasn't just the ever-present threat of nearby Mount Vesuvius, which had blown rather dramatically in 1944. It was a street-level wretchedness; the ugly stains of poverty and socioeconomic squalor, plus a simmering violence that – like the volcano – could erupt at any time. The southern city had been poor before the Second World War but afterwards lay in tatters: Naples was bombed around 200 times, more than any other Italian city. The rich could buy their way out. But most Neapolitans had to scrape by in the grime left behind.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Inspired Traveller's Guide"
Copyright © 2019 Quarto Publishing plc..
Excerpted by permission of The Quarto Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Paris, Les Misérables, 10,
Dublin, Ulysses, 16,
Florence, A Room with a View, 20,
Naples, My Brilliant Friend, 26,
Berlin, Berlin Alexanderplatz, 30,
Nordland, Growth of the Soil, 36,
St Petersburg, Crime and Punishment, 42,
Sierra de Guadarrama, For Whom the Bell Tolls, 48,
La Mancha, Don Quixote, 54,
Davos, The Magic Mountain, 60,
Bath, Northanger Abbey & Persuasion, 66,
London, Oliver Twist, 72,
Yorkshire Moors, Wuthering Heights, 78,
Cairo, Palace Walk, 82,
Soweto, Burger's Daughter, 88,
Kerala, The God of Small Things, 92,
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), The Quiet American, 98,
Kabul, The Kite Runner, 102,
Hanging Rock, Picnic at Hanging Rock, 106,
New York, The Catcher in the Rye, 110,
Monterey Cannery Row, 116,
Mississippi River Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 124,
Monroeville, To Kill a Mockingbird, 128,
Cartagena, Love in the Time of Cholera, 134,
Chile, The House of the Spirits, 140,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Literary Places: Inspired Traveller’s Guide by Sarah Baxter, illustrated by Amy Grimes White Lion Publishing Nonfiction, travel March 5, 2019 Rating: 5/5 I received this digital ARC from NetGalley and White Lion Publishing in exchange for an unbiased review. A great story allows the reader to travel in time to places that only exist in our imagination. This book focuses on 25 great literary places around the world. Each chapter uniquely illustrated provides a reflection hoping to transport you to those places which we can only visit via the pages of these literary treasures. The author explores the location in regards to history and the author’s vision at that time. Imagine being in Paris 1800’s during the Enlightenment amidst the squalor and revolution which existed in Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. An interesting history of Paris during this era provides a historical perspective of the travails of Jean Valjean. From there you can time travel to Dublin where James Joyce describes the humdrum events in a typical Irish day in Ulysses. Imagine being Léopold Bloom exploring the streets of Dublin on 16 June 1904. Similarly, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster allows us to see Florence during the resplendent Italian Renaissance. Fast forward to Naples 1950’s as two young girls come of age in My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. You can also imagine Berlin Alexanderplatz in the late 1920’s during a period of hardship and political unrest. Perhaps a trip to a timeless place of simplicity and awe! We might find ourselves in Nordland as described by Knut Hamsun in Growth of the Soil. Of course, a literary jaunt would not be complete without a stop in St. Petersburg, an imperial Russian city described in Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. These are only a sampling of the journey you will take in this book. A lovely guide for those who enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
A very interesting and evocative travel writing book, covering twenty-five literary travel destinations around the world. Each travel spot gives a look at the area at the time the corresponding book took place, and compares it to the modern location- what's changed, what remains the same. A look at events and culture of the times help complete the picture. Rather than photographs, the book is filled with lovely, vibrant illustrations by Amy Grimes. Each location takes on a life of its own, like a character from the book it comes from. A very informative read for any bibliophile!
Love this beautifully illustrated coffee table book by travel journalist Sarah Baxter, which offers a colorful look at 25 literary locations around the world. You’ll be introduced to Heathcliff’s gloomy moors, Hugo’s City of Light, Quixote’s sunny La Mancha, with details on how place, culture and history impact famous authors’ famous works. With gratitude to author Sarah Baxter, Quarto Publishing Group - White Lion Publishing, and Netgalley for the ARC. 5 of 5 stars.
Literary Places was a stunning compilation of descriptions of the settings from twenty five of the most famous books in history. I loved the writing style- it had the power to make even the ugly seem beautiful- and it really made me want to visit some of the places it described or read some more of the books it mentioned. I truly felt immersed in every place described in the book. It was very well-researched, and gave plenty (but not too much) background on the historical context of each region. I also loved learning more about how each place influenced the book that was set in that area, and how instrumental the setting was in the construction of the story. Most of the books I had never read before, and I definitely added a couple to my TBR list after reading this book. Each place had several accompanying illustrations by Amy Grimes, which were absolutely amazing! This was such an inspiring and beautiful book, and would make a fantastic gift for any lover of literature.
A treat for literature lovers. For those of us who love literature there could be no better way than spending a few hours in the company of this sumptuous and fascinating book which looks at the locations associated with 25 literary masterpieces from around the world. It is sometimes said that in certain novels the location becomes an all encompassing ever present character that seeps through the very texture of the pages that we read. The locations are so instrumentally and endemically linked to the plot and concept of the books contained here that in most cases the transportation to another place would be quite unthinkable. Could Ulysses work away from Dublin or Les Misérables be the same without Paris? Sarah Baxter is a travel journalist and is able to provide an atmospheric description of the location. These are so descriptive that for instance one can clearly visualise the small southern town where To Kill a Mockingbird was set. Each novel covered has a summary of the plot which includes where necessary their historical, social and political setting. The great thing about the book is that it will no doubt inspire readers to search for many of the novels covered here. Some are well known but others are less so. The illustrations are by Amy Grimes and would I suggest need to be studied in detail to reveal their full complexity. The only one I struggled with was that of London which had mountains in the background and seemed slightly divorced from the Dickensian content. This book was certainly a treat and would I feel make an excellent gift for someone who appreciates the relationship between literature and location.
It was so interesting to read a little more about the setting of so many great novels, most which I have seen in person. The illustrations were absolutely beautiful! This book will be very enjoyable for any literature-lover to sit back and flip through. Thanks to Quarto and Netgalley for this ARC!
This is a wonderful book for armchair readers and explorers. 25 fictional places are featured and paired with the novels that made them well known. Some of my favorites were New York City/Catcher in the Rye; Yorkshire Moors/Wuthering Heights, Bath/Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, Naples/My Brilliant Friend, Alabama/To Kill a Mockingbird and really just about every place and book mentioned. The author and illustrator are well matched; the text is informative and helps the reader to imagine the place described at the time that the book was written as well as now, while the drawings are just slightly whimsical and very appealing. This book will inspire you to look at old favorites, find new ones and think about either real or virtual travel. I recommend it highly. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this e-galley. I enjoyed my journey!
In the Venn diagram of those with wanderlust in one section, and another section of readers who enjoy books where Place is a strong element, readers who find themselves in the overlap will enjoy Literary Places by Sarah Baxter. A visually beautiful book, illustrator Amy Grimes uses bold colors to depict locations described within 25 books (well, 26: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are combined in one chapter about Bath). Author Sarah Baxter devotes a few pages to each place. I'm a fan of illustrator Amy Grimes' aesthetic. The colors are bold, lines crisp. Let your gaze linger a bit and see some of the subtler details she includes. Notice how she uses light in her artwork. I don't actually know anything about art, but I know what I like, and I like what I'm seeing. The titles represented in this book cover a range of dates and places. Locations include the inhabited continents, with the bulk of titles in Europe. The earliest I've spotted is Don Quixote in 1615 in Spain, to 2011 and My Brilliant Friend, set in Naples. This particular depiction also graces the cover. Each chapter can stand alone. For that reason, I'd suggest you start with a chapter on a book you've already read. This will help you get a feel of what Literary Places can offer. Baxter writes about the setting and places the book in historical context for the book and author. For the chapter on To Kill a Mockingbird, Baxter's use of imagery sets the scene, then she reminds us of events during the Civil Rights movement around the time the book was published. We have a brief plot summary (I don't think there are spoilers within, though I know some readers prefer to jump into a book knowing nothing at all about plot, so bear that in mind). We also have a description of Harper Lee's hometown, where she drew inspiration for the book. If you want to visit a site in person, Baxter suggests a few highlights for a tour. My summary doesn't do it justice; read a sample chapter. I'm planning on using Literary Places to enhance my appreciation for books I've already read, and to add to my TBR stack. Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a digital review copy. I preordered this in hardcover.
Why do you read book? To enjoy yourself, be entertained by a good story and – at least for me – to travel via the novel to another place and learn something about culture, habits and life in general there. Due to lack of time and money, I cannot visit all the places I would like to see with my own eyes, thus, the fictional world set in real places is often the only alternative available. Especially when it comes to time travel which, of course, will just remain a dream. Sarah Baxter’s traveller’s guide leads you to 25 famous places of novels, among them Paris, London, St Petersburg, New York and Berlin. She briefly describes the setting of the novel and then compares the presentation as we get it in the book with what to find there today. Some places are almost identical and what you see through the eyes of the protagonist is what you can see yourself when travelling there. Others have changed a lot and the place now only exists between the covers of the book. The text is accompanied by illustrations by Amy Grimes and even though they are mostly abstract, they wonderfully transport the atmosphere evoked in the novels. When reading make sure you either got a hard copy of the book or an electronic version in colour. I’d be a pity to have them just in black and white. A beautiful collection which reminded me of novels I read a long time ago and which I definitely want to look at again now.