Have you braved air and ferry chaos this summer to travel to a well-earned trip abroad? Or are you soaking up the record-breaking heat in the comfort of your own back garden?
After the Covid years we all deserve a break, and whether or not you're getting away we've put together some suggestions to whet your appetite for gorgeous holiday locations to be found within the pages of a book: to be enjoyed by the pool, on the seashore, or from your local park.
From the glitter of the cerulean sea to the snow capped peaks of the Alps, there's no shortage of authors who have been inspired by Italy for transportive fiction.
How about escaping with A Room With A View by E M Forster, or exploring a tiny village near Cinque Terre village in Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter? And have you given yourself the treat of the Neapolitan Trilogy by Elena Ferrante, set in the winding streets of Naples?
The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Armin
Written in 1921, this is a tale of four women, unknown to each other and vastly different, who rent a small Italian castle for a month, lured by a small advertisement in the Times to ‘’Those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine’.
As the stresses of their lives and the bleak rain-drenched street of London begin to relax their hold, the magic of the location starts to have a transformative effect on the women.
Written with the lightest of touches and a wry humour this is a delightful read and a tribute to the power of travel.
Chasing the Italian Dream by Jo Thomas
This is a story about Lucie, who takes a beak from being a lawyer in Wales and goes to stay with her Grandparents in the south of Italy. After finding out that her grandfather wants to retire and sell the family pizzeria, with Lucie’s ex-husband wanting to take it over…which is the last thing she wants.
I loved the descriptions of the little Italian village and especially the food. I could almost feel the sun and taste the pizza. Jo Thomas always writes in a way to make you feel like you are actually there. These books are always easy to read and very enjoyable...they are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
If France is your destination of choice why not pour a little aperitíf and indulge yourself with some gorgeous reads?
Perhaps you'd like to explore the history and scenery of the Carcassonne with Kate Mosse and her Labyrinth trilogy? Or maybe you'd prefer the escapism and magic of Joanne Harris' Chocolat?
If you fancy a trip to Paris, why not consider Anthony Doer's All The Light We Cannot See, set in the 1940's, or travel further back in time with Emile Zola.
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno – Garcia
The most notable socialites of Loisail’s are the Beautiful Ones and due to her well-connected cousin, Nina is joining them in the spring. Set in an almost fantasy version of France during the Regency era, Nina struggles to control her telekinesis and has the reputation of the Witch of Oldhouse. When hope arrives in the renowned entertainer Hector Auvray, Nina is dazzled, and her magic blossoms as does her love. Will everything end in a happy-ever-after or will Hector’s bitter secret set out to ruin their happiness.
If you’re like me and enjoy reading Jane Austen or watching something like Bridgerton, this is for you with a bit of magical realism thrown in!
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
After finally reading the letter that his one great love left him many years earlier, Monsieur Perdu has a decision to make. He can continue running his floating bookshop on the river Seine and giving the perfect recommendations and advice for every broken-hearted reader he encounters. Or he can make the long journey down to the south of France to find answers and maybe his own peace.
The books follows to his journey with his two unlikely companions through the beautiful canals and rivers of France, stopping at many towns along the way. It is a gorgeous journey most of us will never travel ourselves but we can still experience right alongside Perdu.
Pour yourself a sangria and have a nibble of Tapas, we're off to Spain!
From arid deserts to the sea, mountain peaks to inviting shores with teracotta tiled roofs and glimpses of a Moorish past it's unsurprising that many of us long for Spanish sunshine.
You may already be familiar with Cervante's Don Quixote, but if not you're sure to love the timeless landscapes and the mishaps and misadventures of Spain's most famous literary creation. American and British ideas of Spain and Spanish traditions have surely been shaped by Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises with it's depiction of the bullrunning in Pamplona, such was it's impact. For another outsider's depiction of Spain try As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee.
The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
Catalina has found herself in quite the mess as she prepares to go home to Spain for the first time in years for her sisters wedding. But after accidently telling her family she is going to bring her boyfriend, they are equally shocked and excited to meet him.
There is one problem though, He doesn't actually exist.
Everything quickly gets out of hand when her insufferable colleague Aaron volunteers to help her and suddenly they both find themselves at In the heat of Spain and putting on the performance of their lives. And as disgraced she felt leaving it all those years ago, being home reminds Lina of everything she loves about Spain from the culture, to the people and the food. It is the perfect setting for this fun romance.
Dogs of Summer by Andrea Abreu (translated by Julia Sanches)
Jet off to Tenerife this August with Andrea Abreu’s debut novel, Dogs of Summer. It’s a palpably tense tale, set on the tip of Tenerife over the course of one long, electrically charged summer in the early 2000s. Following a ten-year old narrator obsessed with her best friend, Isora, it is a sapphic coming-of-age tale with a dark twist.
If a typical summer read were an all-inclusive holiday, this would be the equivalent of losing your luggage at the airport, arriving at your hotel late, only to realise that there’s a cockroach in your shoe and check-in has closed.
It’s visceral, poetic, gritty and funny. Swerve away from this if discomforting, brutally honest narrators aren’t your thing, but if you enjoy authors like Ottessa Moshfegh or Fernanda Melchor, I’d urge you to pick this one up, pronto!