Literary Landscapes – Charting the Real Life Settings of the World’s Favourite Fiction

When I first came to write about myself as a reader I struggled to find the right words, but when I look back now I realise that the words I finally found were exactly right.

“I read to live other lives and visit other worlds. I have been doing it for as long as I remember and it is as natural as breathing now.”

This lovely book celebrates that fundamental reason why we read, offering up more than seventy pieces about books that are rooted in very real places. They will stir your memories of places you have visited and loved, and send you running to your bookshelves to pull out books to travel to those places all over again. They cross centuries and they cross the globe.


It’s difficult to pick favourites, but I have to try:

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The Highlands of Scotland

(‘Kidnapped’ by Robert Louis Stevenson)

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Prince Edward Island, Canada

(‘Anne of Green Gables’ by Lucy Maude Montgomery)

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New York City, USA

(‘The Age of Innocence’ by L M Montgomery)

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Laugharne, Wales

(‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan Thomas)

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Fowey in Cornwall

(‘Rebecca’ by Daphne Du Maurier)

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Cote D’Azur, France

(‘Bonjour Tristesse’ by Francoise Sagan)

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Lyme Regis, Dorset

(‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ by John Fowles)

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Pellinki Archipelago, Finland

(‘The Summer Book’ by Tove Jansson)

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San Francisco, USA

(‘Tales of the City’ by Armistead Maupin)

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Hokitika, New Zealand

(‘The Luminaries’ by Eleanor Catton)

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The choices are conventional – classics, modern classics, and other books that should stand the test of time- but they feel right and they range widely. I thought of a few others I would have liked to see but not many and there wasn’t a book present that wasn’t worthy of its place.

The pieces are short and relatively simple; just enough to remind you why you loved that book, why you want to read that book, or why a book that might not be right for you could transport other readers.

The one note of caution that I must sound is that plots are discussed, so you might learn a little more that you want to about books that you are haven’t got to yet. But this isn’t a book to read from cover to cover, it’s a book to keep on a shelf and pick up from time to time, to dip into.

When it catches your eye, this book is irresistible. It feels substantial  but not heavy and it looks lovely, with entries beautifully illustrated with archive material, original artworks, maps and photographs.

It would make a wonderful gift, though it would be difficult to give away ….

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9 thoughts on “Literary Landscapes – Charting the Real Life Settings of the World’s Favourite Fiction

  1. This book sounds wonderful! I’m interested in any list that includes Montgomery and Wharton, and I loved The Luminaries. I can see from the cover that Austen’s Bath is also featured. Is there just one place and one novel per author, or is (for example) Austen’s Lyme Regis also mentioned?


    1. It seems to be one book per author and a different setting each time. I don’t have the book in front of me but I can tell you that ‘Persuasion’ is the first book, that the piece mention Lyme Regis as well as Bath, and of course it has me planning a re-read very soon.

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