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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The era of Mad Men via novels, set in New York

 Mad Men is back on TV and to celebrate we have chosen some fiction to match! It's Season 6, and it's a very literary season! As it moves through the 1960s everything gets a lot more hairy, too, whether bodywise or plotwise! Click on the covers to find out more and purchase.
One of Don's first bed companions in Series 1 of Mad Men is not another woman, but The Best of Everything, this 1958 novel by Rona Jaffe ...It is a world of typing pools and tie-wearing at all times; of whiskey drinking and womanising; a world in which secretaries grope their way towards feminism with difficulty, and bosses grope their secretaries with with ease...As Draper himself might say: fascinating (The Times )

"The author really seems to capture the atmosphere of 1950's New York and I was totally transported there via these pages"

Lucia Sartori, now in her seventies, single, tells the story of her life to the only other single woman who lives in the same apartment block as her Kit who is mid twenties. It is the story of New York in the 1950s, of an Italian American family and their values.

And finally from New York magazine:

And if you know of any other 1950/1960s New York set great reads that we could feature, let us know in the Comments Box below. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

A novel set in Nemi near Rome

Ok, you are going to have to trawl the secondhand bookshops for a copy of this book... but it is absolutely wonderful to sit on a terrace cafe, overlooking the Lake at Nemi, eating some tarts, little wild strawberries snuggled in a crème patissière; perhaps even a glass of prosecco to hand. Put your feet up and read this book set here. Take yourself into the past and imagine Caligula playing warship games on the Lake (he would of course have called it Nemorensis Lacus), many sunken Roman warships atest to his activities. Take yourself to the villas that feature in this novel and imagine life as it was.....

And on the first Sunday in June every year they have a strawberry festival. As they say in Italian La sagra delle fragole a Nemi è un appuntamento imperdibile  Or, The Strawberry Festival at Nemi is an appointment not to be missed

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Jubilee celebrations in London/Southern England (with a spot of political intrigue thrown in for good measure)

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend is fast approaching in the UK, so we have selected some novels to conjure up a feel of London, how the Brits have a "knees up" and mark the Jubilee (with a bit of political intrigue thrown in).

Published in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year, Shelley Harris's remarkably assured debut novel is rooted in the Silver Jubilee celebrations of June 1977. Cherry Gardens, in a small Buckinghamshire village, is throwing a street party. Union Jack bunting is festooned from house to house; trestle tables will carry the vat of unappetising coronation chicken and cakes iced in red, white and blue, as well as the scrumptious chakli contributed by the Patels, who had come to Bourne Heath fleeing Idi Amin's violent expulsion of Asians from Uganda.

This book is the winner of the Somerset Maugham Award 1997.
A stunning novel of political life, betrayal and passion, which lifts the lid on vice within the Palace of Westminster…and cost Hensher his job as a House of Commons clerk.
John is a distinguished widower with a hump, two daughters, and an important job in the House of Commons. He also has a fondness for visiting rent boys in the afternoons, and a passion for secrecy…

In this, the year of HRH The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, comes a fiercely controversial story that exposes evil at the heart of the British establishment. Three of the UK's most powerful men will stop at nothing to protect the monarchy, including the murder of Jack Hollander, an innocent victim of circumstance - and the one man who can prevent Prince Charles from fulfilling his destiny. Kindle only

For further information on what is going on in London over the Jubilee weekend check out Twitter @RiverPageant where a countdown to the 3rd June is happening

And at they have been busy listing all the draws of the Summer in London  Twitter @ViatorTravel

Please suggest anything else in the Comments box that you feel might add that extra something for anyone wanting more information about the Jubilee Weekend.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Two books for starters in Tokyo

Wonderful Tokyo. Bustling metropolis. Inscrutable country.

Sensoji Temple which has 30 million visitors per year

We have lots of books in our database set in Tokyo and have chosen two more unusual ones for anyone who wants to try and get a feel for this complex city. 

We absolutely fell in love with this book! Author Chavouet set out to record Tokyo as he saw and observed the city, creating beautiful line drawings to accompany great observations on the people and culture.

"One of the best books ever written about this city"

And this novel is one we came across as we were researching TripFiction and gives great insight into family values across Japan; the author really knows the country and once you have read it, you too will have gained a little more understanding of some of the complexities that abound at every level

Many more titles on our website....and if you know of a book that is evocative of Japan, and it doesn't already appear in our database, then get in touch via

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Novels set in India (we leave 'Shantaram' and 'Eat, Pray, Love' for another time....)

In order to understand India, where should a traveller start? Which area to explore first....? How to collate all the information to make a visit to this continent a truly memorable experience?

At TripFiction we want to add another dimension to your trip planning by suggesting some great reads set in the country. Oh, and what a struggle it was to choose a cross section of the titles from the many books we have gathered together under the umbrella of India. Many of you will be familiar not only with the hugely popular novels set in India, such as 'Shantaram'  and 'Eat Pray Love' (part set in India) - both of which give a brilliant and intimate insight into the ways of people of the country -  but also with the many  popular Indian authors like Ruth Prawer Jhabvala....Vikram Seth...Arvind Adiga...Salman Rushdie, who  all write so eloquently about people and places. So, we set about choosing books that we feel are very different, perhaps less well known, yet in their own individual and subtle ways conjure up the diversity of the country, the people and the customs and to our mind deserve increased readership.

And if you have read any novels set in India - which do not yet appear on our website then please do get in touch and suggest them if you feel they are particularly evocative of the country!

If you have ever felt peeved at the application process for an Indian visa, your pain will be contextualised by Siddhartha Deb's administrative nightmare in India, which began in an unfeasibly long queue under an unfeasibly hot sun, and ended in a near punch-up, with a visa no further in sight..... (and how wonderful is that pink sari on the cover?)

"A great book and brilliant for anyone who has an interest in India, or who is planning a trip - it gets behind the popular image" 

We plunge into the intimate life of Indian culture, with Vish Puri, skilled detective, and the the bowels of Indian life. This debut finds him checking out the suspiciously squeaky-clean groom of the daughter of a strict military man, ducking bullets from unknown assailants, and taking on a seemingly hopeless missing persons case.

"A brilliantly written, humorous tale that vividly captures the sounds, smells and foibles of modern India"

What might the author be looking for in this top starred novel? His wanderings in this book take him to a brothel in Bombay, to the Theosophical Society in Madras, to the library of a religious order in Goa...

"...he describes the places so that you can almost smell and hear what the author experiences"

One final suggestion is this book by Kamala Markandaya which we have loved but as we write, it is currently only available in India, so perhaps one to pick up when you are there!

In her first novel, Nectar in a Sieve, Kamala Markandaya explored the rural world of the Indian peasants of the post-war era, with their fatalistic acceptance of their precarious existence. In A Handful of Rice, originally published in 1966, she creates for the reader the world of that generation’s children who have moved to the city in search of a better life.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Mexico, Paris, Bruges, Spain, London and North Carolina in the company of Diego Rivera

The life and loves of artist Diego Rivera  (otherwise known as Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez), are beautifully captured across two good, colourfuand very individual novels, alighting in some beautiful places around the globe along the way.

Beloff and Rivera
This exceptional novel chronicles the artist's years with his first wife Angeline Beloff  '.....the best "travel" book I have read in a long while.....I felt immersed in the sights, sounds, smells and flavours of Paris, London, Brugges, Spain and Mexico. It is such a vivid portrayal of cafe life in Belle Epoque Paris....'

Kahlo and Rivera

Rivera, Trotsky and his second wife Frida Kahlo appear in this book by renowned author Babara Kinsolver and is set both in Mexico and North Carolina and "truly captures the colours of the environment"

FridaIf you are a fan of Frida Kahlo then you might like the DVD "Frida" starring Salma Hayek, Alfred Molina and Valeria Golino..... full of colour and is redolent of the warm, bright light of Mexico.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Cruising the Oceans through novels

Imagine you are on-board an ocean cruiser, the waves lapping, there are many stories to tell and histories to hear. We have brought together novels that will transport you hook, line and sinker to the oceans of the world. Click on the book covers to find out more.

Our novels where cruising aboard ship is at the heart of the story can be found over on our Pinterest Board 

And do drop by and connect with Team TripFiction via social media: TwitterFacebook and Pinterest and when we have some interesting photos we can often be found over on Instagram too.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Novel No. 3, Quayside, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE

The Murder Wall  by Mari Hannah is just published, and exemplifies the TripFiction concept: see a place through an author's eyes, combine it with a cracking read, and add a serial murderer for tension and pathos. And if you know Newcastle at all you can accompany the characters from the Quayside to Corbridge (along the A69 no less), from the Bridge Inn to Baltic. If you don't yet know Newcastle, pop this book in your bag when you schedule a visit, it will add an extra dimension to your visit. It has well researched local colour, gritty characters and a quality that just exemplifies the famous "Toon". This is a piece of modern day Geordieland....

"Daniels walked to the window and looked out at the Millennium Bridge; a giant curved structure known locally as the 'blinking eye'. Her own eyes followed a large party of students making their way across the river to the Baltic, a converted flour mill, now a centre for contemporary art, the largest gallery of its type in the world. For a miserable November day, it was attracting a lot of interest. Daniels wondered if there was a special exhibition on. She and Jo Soulsby had been there many times. It was a favourite haunt of theirs. Most days it was crammed with an eclectic mix of lunching ladies, tourists, art buffs and shoppers. The food was excellent, the view from the rooftop restaurant stunning." (extract from the Murder Wall).  You can buy the book here

And this is the view Daniels was looking at, a photo by one of the North's very own emerging talent:

Courtesy of Ed Bookless Photography


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Novel No. 2 set in Geordieland, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE

Our next recommended novel, this time part set in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, is an excellent first novel by author Alan Reynolds Flying with Kites. We follow the plight of Katya Gjikolli, an English teacher, who is forced to flee her native village in Kosovo after her husband has been captured by Serb forces, and finally ends up living in a tower block in Newcastle. Top rated read.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Novel No.1 set in the Toon, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, UK

Over the next three consecutive blogspots we will be recommending three individual, wonderful and very different novels set in the North East of England, in and around Newcastle upon Tyne.
Our first choice is:

Wedlock by Wendy Moore 

Moore transposes the historical Mary Eleonor Bowes (distant relationship of the Queen Mother) into a living, breathing woman, suffering Domestic Abuse at the hands of her new husband. It follows in detail her trials and tribulations through her marriage, her struggles to find her niche as a woman in the 18th century, and her courage to escape oppression at the hands of Irish Lothario and second husband Andrew Robinson Stoney (from whom we get the expression stoney-broke). Wonderfully evocative of Georgian England and the North East.

It is still possible to visit her original ancestral home, where much of the book is set, at Gibside Chapel and Gardens

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Road Trip America

Iconic Route 66, Chuck Berry, Jack Kerouac, Miles Davis...we have selected four books to entertain and set the scene for something that is, well, just sooooo American!

A novel  about four women who go on a road trip from Wisconsin to Las Vegas. They are pretty much strangers, have bereavement in common, range in age from 20 - 70, and have very different personalities. A belter from Karen McQuestion!

Billy Connolly, music-lover, biker, and scourge of the beige and the bland the world over, has dreamed about taking a trip on the legendary Route 66 since he first heard Chuck Berry belting out one of the greatest rock n roll records of all time. In this book he searches out the real America.

Sharp, stylised, gritty, diverse, dubious, sleazy....Indian Country Noir is an anthology of short stories around Native American culture. 

No road trip planning can be complete without Jack Kerouac, American iconoclast On the Road. The narrative takes place in the late 1940s and is brim full of Americana - the soul of the beat movement, one of the greats of 20th century literature.

A road trip in a classic 1970s Ford, no further description needed!

And if you are looking for further ideas on how to plan your road trip, visit

Thursday, 3 May 2012

THAILAND North and South, two novel recommendations

Thailand is a fabulously diverse country and we have chosen two books, one set in the South of the country, the other in the North.

The first novel is set in Phuket, by author Jake Needham: Let a few succinct words from The Straits Times introduce the book: “In between the lines of his plot, Needham’s provocative views about Asian culture jump at you from almost every page. The gritty and taut KILLING PLATO is 100 per cent unadulterated attitude.” Fancy reading this novel on the beach whilst holidaying in Phuket? Perhaps lying by the pool of the Chava Resort (a fabulous resort, although the irony of the name will not be lost on readers from the UK); maybe swinging gently in a hammock on one of the islands nearby in the Andaman Sea .... just capture the flavour of the location through the works of this terrific author. Incidentally, he has sold over 100,000 copies of his books so he is clearly doing something right!

For something very different and set 2,000km further North we have chosen Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski. It is a book that is lush in landscape and deep in ideas, set among the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. A suspense story blending anthropology and Christian missionaries, it almost feels autobiographical. The thread that keeps the book together is the narrator's almost obsessive attempt to unravel the mystery of Martiya van der Leun, an anthropologist, who had been working with the animist Dyalo hill tribe in Northern Thailand, who was imprisoned for murder and went on seemingly to commit suicide in jail.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Everything you ever wanted to know about "The Landlocked Island" (but were afraid to ask)


The relevance of red shoes on a book blog? Read on......

Switzerland is the "The Landlocked Island", right in the heart of Europe, fiercely keeping its own identity and traditions. We were so pleased to come across Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes (also available now in German, nattily titled Der Schweizversteher: Ein Englȁnder unter Eidgenossen). It is written with gentle humour, full of great observations, and a bit of culture, history and tradition thrown in. This is the perfect book for anyone wanting to understand this Alpine nation and gain some insight, with some fun learning along the way. If you intend to visit Switzerland you need this book!

And one of the quaint observations the author has made is that there is a preponderance among the Swiss to wear RED SHOES. He says: "If you want to look like a local, then wear a pair of red shoes. It may sound daft, but I have never seen so many red shoes as in Switzerland. Men, women, old, young, posh, scruffy, town and country - everyone seems to have a pair. It's hard to walk down the street for more than a few minutes without seeing red. It seems to be a bit of a national fetish, though having asked many Swiss people about it, none of them seems to have noticed. But I have"

So, anyone else noticed this tendency? We recently spotted some red MBTs...

Fancy reading more books set in Switzerland? Then just click here for our full database.

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