Books set in the UK that have a special place in my heart

 

orangutan list

Hello all! So, after my little trip, I’ve been feeling a little Wanderlust… but since I can’t go far at the moment, I thought it might be fun to take a (digital) bookish trip round the UK, stopping off in places that are special to me. I was completely inspired by Book Nook’s brilliant interpretation of Top 5 Tuesday, so I highly recommend you check that out!

Confessions of a Justified Sinner– this is not only one of my favourite gothic books, it’s also strongly evocative of Scotland. To me, this captures the creepy atmosphere better than any other book. One of my favourite parts is a particularly chilling scene set up on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh- in fact, I remember reading it when the mist came down over the city and only seeing the peak just rising above it and thinking “this is a little too real”. Soooo moral of the story is beware the devils in Scotland 😉

Peter Rabbit– like Book Nook, I had to pick this one. Beatrix Potter reminds me of the Lake District, possibly the most beautiful part of England. I went there as a child and I have fond memories of the magic of the place, especially as it felt like stepping into Potter’s world 😀 Also, Beatrix Potter understands that the way to a reader’s heart is through their stomachs 😉

The Hobbit– this may seem an odd choice for people (including me) who grew up with New Zealand as Middle Earth- BUT since Tolkien actually based his descriptions on the English countryside, I felt it was very apt for this list. Particularly as I distinctly remember the first time I read the Hobbit, then going for a walk in some woods near where I lived and (bearing in mind I was a child at the time) running delightedly yelling “wow this is Mirkwood!!”

A Darker Shade of Magic– cos I’m a Londoner and all of these Londons are perfection. Yeah, it’s not by a British author, but that doesn’t matter. No one could have captured the city more authentically! (well, aside from the magic 😉)

Peter Pan– I mean, I’ve got to include this, it’s one of my favourite books. Plus, he’s rather a famous resident in Kensington Gardens.

La Belle Sauvage– keeping to the realms of fantasy, I could hardly ignore Lyra’s Oxford. Northern Lights was hugely influential on me as a child and I can tell you Oxford definitely reminds me of Pullman’s novels!! (or, technically speaking, his books remind me of Oxford- but shh I won’t tell if you don’t 😉)

Return of the Native– really, I could’ve chosen any of Hardy’s books to represent his Wessex, but this one felt fitting for its heightened romanticism. If you do fancy going in search of Hardy’s Wessex, then you won’t actually have to look so hard- head down to Dorset and you’ll find many of the spots in his novels (and his life). I was lucky enough to do a tour once with school and highly recommend it!

Frenchman’s Creek– Du Maurier has always been the queen of making her landscapes feel like another character in her books. And I could easily have chosen the moors in Jamaica Inn or the memorably dreamlike Manderley in Rebecca, but none are so special to me as the rugged Cornish coastline depicted in her Frenchman’s Creek. I can easily picture the smugglers and spirit of Cornwall from all the descriptions she snatches in this book. I adore it.

And finally…

carry on

Carry On– I have no idea if Rainbow Rowell has ever been to Watford, but it is the most hilarious thing that she chose it as the place to set her HP parody. Intentional or not, it’s bloody hilarious.

So, have you read any of these? And what are your favourite books about your home country? Let me know in the comments! 

Souvenirs From Around the World – Bookish Places in Britain #SFATW

Okay- my title sounds oddly political today, but I SWEAR that wasn’t deliberate- just a rather amusing coincidence that as Brits go to the polls, I am going on a rather bookish figurative romp around Britain… But I’m sure you’ve all had enough politics- let’s talk about what’s really important… books!

So why am I prattling on about books and Britain? Simple- because I’m participating in Marie’s awesome project: Souvenirs From Around the World, where we get to share some fun (and potentially bookish) blogs about our countries/hometowns AND share actual souvenirs as well. If you want to know more about this absolutely brilliant project click here!

Naturally, for my post, I had to talk about some of the best bookish locations in Britain! Some of these places I’ve been to and some are on my wishlist, but all of them are fabulous so let’s get to it!

hardy cottage

Let’s start with Hardy’s Wessex. I did a tour of once and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done- not just because that bit of Dorset is so pretty, but because I gained so much insight into Hardy’s life and the history of the region. It brought “Wessex” to life even more and really added to the books.

beatrix potter house

One of the best places I ever went when I was a child was Beatrix Potter’s House. I could have talked about so many different authors inspired by the Lake District- Wordsworth, Coleridge and many other Romantics besides- but I picked Beatrix Potter because I have a huge soft spot for her work. It just brings back so many nostalgic memories.

bronte country

One thing I have always wanted to do but somehow never have is visit Bronte Country, partly cos I’m a Bronte fanatic and partly cos I love walks in the countryside (gosh this sounds like a dating ad)

Stratford-upon-avon-header.jpg

Another thing I desperately want to do is go to Stratford Upon Avon– because I’m Shakespeare obsessed (obviously 😉 ).

Thomas_Riddell's_Grave,_Greyfriars_Kirkyard

Let’s face it- there are a million and one things you can do in the UK that are Harry Potter related- you can hit up platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross, or go to the Harry Potter Studios in Hertfordshire, or better still visit the birthplace of Harry Potter at the Elephant and Castle where J K Rowling wrote Harry Potter (and you should, it’s an excellent coffee shop)- but the real fun is trying to spot Tom Riddle’s gravestone in the Greyfriar’s Bobby Cemetery just next door. (NB When I lived in Scotland I used to go there all the time, just to say hi)

highgate cemetery

And while you’re visiting cemeteries (yes, I like hanging out with dead people, what of it?)- there are loads of old authors to see in Poet’s Corner, or my personal favourite… Highgate Cemetery. While admittedly they may not be alive, so many interesting people are buried there like George Eliot. Plus, it’s Victorian Gothic and therefore stunningly creepy.

george's inn

 

Now that we’re back in my hometown of London, I’d like to recommend a very well-known pub: The George’s Inn– I don’t think I need to explain this one much: it’s a very old pub that Shakespeare and Dickens frequented- and if you are there long enough- who knows?– you might think you’ve time travelled or something (although do try to drink responsibly 😉 ).

sherlock holmes museum

Speaking of which, I’ve heard the Sherlock Holmes Museum is really good at making you feel like you actually have stepped back in time. Although I can’t actually confirm this- I nearly went there twice it’s just really hard to get in- I think you have to book in advance and I’ve never been good at that. One day though….

reading room british museum

The Reading Room was once the heart of the British Museum Library- yet I probably shouldn’t include it on this list cos you can’t actually visit it right now. While you could go when it first opened to the public (which is when I went) it’s been used for a lot of exhibitions since then so you couldn’t view it in all its bookish glory, BUT there’s a debate on at the moment about its future use… so maybe this something to bear in mind… (*fingers crossed*). Until then, you can always go and visit the current British Library- which is yet another one I haven’t been to but I have heard is spectacular.

bookshops

And lastly… bookshops! Of course there are a gazillion bookshops in London! I swear London has to be one of the bookshop-capitals of the world! There’s a huge Waterstones that claims to be the biggest bookshop in Europe, a million and one hole in the wall places scattered about, and some really old gems that have stood the test of time (Hatchards, Samuel French, countless ones at Charing Cross etc) And if you’re bored of all that- feel free to check out Forbidden Planet- the haven for all things geekdom. Naturally, as you can see, I have quite a few places to pick from for my souvenirs to send around the world…

So go and explore London! And explore the world with Marie’s awesome idea!

Let me know if you will be participating in the comments!