Travel Europe in Books- we explore European fiction

Travel Europe in Books- we explore European fiction - The Willoughby Book Club

Here at the Willoughby Book Club, we’re always keen to discover interesting books to take with us to our summer holiday destinations, particularly when they might be set in the European countries we’ll soon be visiting! 

This year, as the sun emerges (and hopefully lingers for longer than it normally does!) we plan to relax and delve into some great page turners. We’ve been excitedly discussing the places we’ll be travelling to and are keen to read books either set in or written by authors from all these places. Maybe you’ll be going away this year and are on the lookout for something gripping? Or maybe something with exciting, engaging characters? Have a read and hopefully you’ll find something to add to your hand luggage. 



One of the many pleasures of visiting Italy is the food. What would be better then, than to accompany that big dish of pasta with a book about just that. The Hunger of Women by Marosia Castaldi is a fantastic piece of unconventional yet completely gripping fiction, narrated by Rosa, who makes the move from Naples to Lombardy to open up her own restaurant, it’s a thoughtful, introspective gaze into the myriad relationships between women, full of mouth-watering descriptions of food and decadence in all its forms.  





If you enjoy propulsive historical fiction, The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave comes highly recommended from Willoughby HQ. Set on the island of Finnmark in 1617, three years after a catastrophic storm that killed all of the men the coastal village of Vardo, a witchfinder from Scotland arrives, determined to bring God to this desolate coastline. When his wife makes friends with a local villager, and the sinister, new stranger’s paranoia increases, events take a dangerous turn. 

Atmospheric and absorbing, if you liked Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, this is definitely one to get your hands on.  




When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Sola, translated from the Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem is a beautiful, tragic tale that begins with Domenec, a father and farmer, dying after being struck by lightning. The book is an interesting insight into Catalan culture, interweaving folklore, nature and survival against the backdrop of the oppressive Franco regime. There are elements of magical realism, beautiful descriptions of the Pyrenees and you’ll finish reading it feeling more connected to the things around you! 





Elif Shafak is probably one of Turkey’s most well-known contemporary authors- and with good reason! The Island of Missing Trees is a moving and original love story set on Cyprus, with two teenagers, one Turkish Cypriot and the other Greek Cypriot, whose blossoming love is witnessed by a fig tree. However, when war breaks out the two are separated, with the novel following several storylines from here. Beautiful descriptions of the island, as well as gorgeous characters and prose. 





If you prefer to read exciting, thrilling fiction while you’re away, try The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier. Set in an isolated village in the beautiful French countryside, it’s a weird, slow-burner of a novel set over two days, as husband and father, Patrice, plans for his wife’s fortieth birthday. When threatening letters start arriving, a chain of events start to unravel buried family secrets and bring strangers to the door. 

If you’re holidaying in France this year, the landscape descriptions alone will draw you in, but you’ll stay for the mystery and intrigue. Just make sure to remember to top up your sunscreen if you’re reading outside, because at over 450 pages, you’ll be completely immersed in this. 


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