A couple of weeks ago I updated my reading list and started thinking about how great it is to read a book set in the place you're visiting.
This week's Friday 10 is about just that: five autumn-worthy books paired with five dreamy nooks to read them in.
Rebecca & Cornwall
Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca is an atmospheric, suspenseful, gothic tale of love and fear. The narrator, the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter, is newly married when her widower husband takes her to his grand estate, Manderlay, on the Cornish coast. She is young, timid, and quickly becomes overwhelmed by the house. She is also haunted by the spectre of Rebecca, Maxim's first wife. I won't give much more away, but it is one of those books that sucked me from the first line: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again." And it didn't let me go for weeks after I finished reading it.
Menabilly was one of Du Maurier's favorite places. She lived there with her family from 1943 to 1969. Although Milton Hall was the model for Manderlay, Menabilly was the inspiration for the estate's setting.
The Thirteenth Tale & Yorkshire
We're staying in England for our second pairing. Diane Setterfield's novel The Thirteenth Tale is about a young biographer, Margaret Lea, who is chosen to write the biography of ailing reclusive novelist, Vida Winter. Lea is confused as to why she was chosen, especially since she has never read Winter's work before. Since her father owns an antique book shop, she is able to get her hands on a rare copy of Winter's Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation. When Lea realizes there are only twelve tales in the book, she become increasingly interested in unraveling the mysteries surrounding Winter's life.
The Thirteenth Tale takes place on the Yorkshire moors, so I thought Unique Home Stay's Bramblewick would be the perfect place to get cozy with the book. It has just about everything I could ask for in an English cottage: stunning views, a wood fireplace, numerous comfy places to hunker down with a book, and lots of walking trails from the house through the North York Moors National Park or around the Robin Hood's Bay (to fish and chips!).
Imagine spending an afternoon walking the beautiful, wild moors and coming back to a hot tea, a view of the sea, and a gothic tale.
The Shadow of the Wind & Barcelona
We're off to post-war Barcelona now with Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind. The book begins with Daniel and his father walking through the streets of Barcelona's Gothic Quarter to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Daniel's father owns shop full of used and rare books. He is also one of the few people in the city who knows about and cares for the labyrinthine Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which keeps out of print books from being lost forever. Tradition dictates that when someone visits the cemetery for the first time, they must choose one book to keep and watch over. Daniel chooses (or does the book choose him?) a novel entitled The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. As soon as he starts reading it, he becomes enthralled with the story and wants to find more from the author.
Soon afterward, Daniel learns that all of Carax's books have been destroyed except for his copy, but someone is bound and determined to destroy it, too. While trying to protect the book, Daniel stirs up--and puts himself in the middle--of an old, dangerous unsolved mystery.
The city itself is like a character in The Shadow on the Wind. My copy of the book even includes a walking tour of the important spots, which you can also find here. So the place I chose is a luxurious boutique hotel in the Barri Gòtic/Gothic Quarter called the Mercer Barcelona. I didn't go with a rental here because they tended to be very modern inside. I wanted something that seemed rooted in the past while still feeling luxe. It looks like the Mercer does that beautifully with its stone walls and exposed beams. It's also located within a short 10 minute walk to most of the major spots in the book. You'd be right in the middle of it all, but have easy access to the rest of the city.
The Lantern & Provence
Deborah Lawrenson's The Lantern is a lush, modern gothic tale reminiscent of Du Maurier's Rebecca. It's the story of couple, Eve and Dom, who have a whirlwind romance and then fall in love with a dilapidated house with a beautiful garden in Provence called Les Genévriers. As the seasons turn and the relationship cools, Eve becomes suspicious of Dom's past. Meanwhile, Les Genévriers begins to reveal that it has its own mysteries. The book switches back and forth between two time periods, slowly revealing secrets and unraveling the stories along the way.
I chose Le Mas de Belleroche for where I'd want to stay while reading The Lantern. It's a private, sprawling farmhouse perched on a rocky hill within walking distance village of Les Baux de Provence. It's also a short drive to the beautiful St. Rémy de Provence. The house has a gorgeous garden, plentiful outdoor spaces, an inviting pool, and lots of typically Provençal rooms. I can imagine spending hours relaxing and reading about Les Genévriers here after touring around Provence for the day. Add in some wine, some fresh melon, and charcuterie platter. . .well, I don't think I'd ever want to leave.
Neverwhere & London
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is something a little different from the rest of the books I chose. It tells the story of Richard Mayhew, your average, everyday good guy businessman living in London. His life changes in an instant when he stops to help a peculiar young girl who has been injured. Suddenly, Richard is part of the strange, magical subterranean world of London Below.
I downloaded the audiobook version of Neverwhere for the Audible free trial a few months ago. I've only listened to a bit, so I can't tell you how I feel about the whole thing, yet. I've loved every moment of it so far, though. The story is unique, magical and makes me feel like I'm listening to a fairytale for adults. I usually hate audio books but Gaiman does the reading and he has a way of making everything come alive. I only wish I had picked up the book before our trip to London last year. I think it would have been fun to imagine it coming alive around (and below) me.
Naturally, I had to choose an interesting London flat for Neverwhere. When I stumbled across the Salisbury on London Perfect, I knew I'd found one! It's located in Kensington, close to the Tube and within walking distance to Museum Row and lots of shopping. The furnishings are opulent and modern--oh how I wish I could lazily read on that red leather couch right now--and there's a lovely little terrace overlooking a garden.
That's it for this week! I hope these ideas stir up some fall reading and travel inspiration for you. It was fun to put together! I might have to do more of these.
Do you have any book recommendations? I'm always open to ideas!
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.