The prospect of a summer holiday, albeit five months away, has got me ridiculously excited. Already I’m mentally reclining by a sparkling pool, G&T in one hand and book in the other, cocooned in that blissful bubble of relaxation that only comes from being several hundred miles away from the demands of the daily grind….but I’m getting ahead of myself. Until I’m on that plane, I’ll have to make do with the figurative escape that, thankfully, is easily found within the pages of a book.
Thinking about it, it’s fairly unusual for me to read a novel based entirely in a familiar setting. More often than not there’s at least an element of history involved, but I also tend to gravitate towards books set in foreign countries. And it’s definitely a conscious choice to avoid anything that resembles my own life and experiences too closely; I get quite enough of that every day as it is! Exotic holidays may be few and far between, but I can always rely on reading to take me to a different place as often as I like. So, in case there are no opportunities for escape on your horizon, here are…
My top 5 books for getting away from it all!
- “Miss Garnet’s Angel” by Salley Vickers – I’ve never been to Venice, but after reading this book I felt as if I had. There’s a real intimacy between the characters and the city, and it’s this relationship between people and place that binds this gorgeous novel together.
- “An Artist of the Floating World” by Kazuo Ishiguro – you just can’t have a literary world tour without including one of Ishiguro’s Japanese novels. I love the fact that his serene prose belies the turmoil bubbling under the surface of his characters – and increasingly throughout Japan itself.
- “The Wedding Officer” by Anthony Capella – back to Italy, this time during the Second World War. A romantic, sunny, yummy novel that will make you hungry for some proper Italian food…
- “Big Stone Gap” by Adriana Trigiani – this is the first in a series of novels set in a sleepy Virginia town. It’s not the most glamorous of literary voyages, but the setting is so vividly realised that it becomes almost a character in its own right. By the time I’d finished I felt like I’d been living in Big Stone Gap; it’s several years since I read it but even now I could describe every detail.
- “The Hungry Tide” by Amitav Ghosh – if you want to venture somewhere truly out of the ordinary, then this is the book for you. Set among an archipelago if islands in the Bay of Bengal, we witness the arrival of two outsiders into this somewhat mystical landscape and journey with them into an environment that very definitely has its own rules.
Happy reading….and bon voyage!