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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Two complementary books set in Japan

We are very lucky to to have great people who introduce us to books that perhaps we wouldn't come across in everyday life. The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd is without doubt a real find! Here, we bring together two fabulous books that superbly describe Japan in the earlier part of the 20th century, each featuring a very determined woman, who struggles to find her position in contemporary society. Both books, we have to say, are firmly in our Top 20! Beautiful style, evocative of locale....need we say more? A young woman travels from Edinburgh to Peking in the early 20th century, and writes about her experiences in diary form. She is trapped in a loveless marriage to a stiff and conventional man, falls in love with a Japanese warrior and pays dearly for that passion. It is then that Mary's real journey begins, as she courageously starts to forge a new life for herself in Tokyo, just as Japan is witnessing the first rumblings of the industrial powerhouse it was to become. Just a wonderful book! Chiyo-chan is a nine year old girl from a small fishing village,who has experienced a simple life until her Mother becomes fatally ill. She is sent by her Father to Gion, one of the Geisha areas of districts of Kyoto. She grows into the most stunning Geisha Sayuri and this is her story beautifully told. There are references, too, to actual places frequented by geisha and their patrons, such as the Ichiriki Ochaya, and brings the life of a Geisha of Gion to life (and if you are fortunate you can still catch a glimpse of a traditional 'Geisha' in the alleys of Gion in Kyoto)

If you feel inspired to read a couple of books set in, and about Tokyo, then take a look at this past blog - these book choices are designed to help you get a new and inspired perspective and to see a location through an author's eyes. There are many more books "set in" on our website: - do drop by.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

These are the books we would take to Sicily

Pick up some of our suggested novels if you are heading for Sicily and get right under the skin of the largest of the Mediterranean islands! These are our book tips to help you get a real feel for this complex and beautiful place, and to get the most out of a visit there. Click on the covers to find our more.

From Guardian columnist Matthew Fort comes this delicious travelogue, as he muses about life, food, family and sooo much more, as he scoots round Sicily on a Vespa.

"If you are travelling to Sicily you absolutely have to take this "

If you are holidaying in peak holiday time, in August, then this seems a very apt choice to add to our list. Andrea Camilleri has written several books featuring Inspector Montalbano, gastronome, and solver of crimes, all set around, and hugely evocative of the island. Some of Camilleri's novels have recently been adapted for the BBC.

Starting in Palermo this book trawls through a bit of art, food, history and literature to shed light on southern Italy's legacy of political corruption and violent crime. It brings to life the doors banging shut, the odd voice, but you don't see anyone about. Spooky! This is the kind of book that gets under the skin of a place and is a great read to explore Sicily, offering all kinds of interesting information...

We have plenty more books set in Sicily to tempt you, so please do browse here. And if you would like to us to add any books set in Sicily that have captured the feel and flavour of the island for you - and we don't already feature them - then please let us know. Help us to build up this site and make it a really superb resource for travellers!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Novels and "Tells Alls" for Mile High readers

About to jet off to your chosen destination? Then pick up one of our novels set  around flying. Choose a novel or a "tell all".  Find out what really goes on behind the Business Class curtain, the goings on backstage when you are asleep, or what it is like to be airborne and work your socks off. Ever wanted to know what can happen if you misbehave as a passenger? Is there really a cupboard to store a body if someone dies? Come and circumnavigate the globe via books, and then touch down at your chosen destination and choose your novel via Lots of amusing insights and storylines in our Mile High fiction section! Time to jet off.....

Our collection of "flying" novels can now be found over on Pinterest

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Warm up for the Olympics with more London based fiction

Eyes will soon be directed towards London and the big sporting event coming up there. We bring you some more novels set in different areas of  the Metropolis, which, we feel, offer the reader a quintessential feel to the city, in all its wonderful diversity. 

If you decide you would like to buy one of our featured books, you would help us enormously by clicking on the link. This will take you straight through to the book and then to Amazon; for each sale that clicks through from our site - and, dear reader, this includes Porsche cars as well as books - then we receive a small percentage from that sale. This will enable us to get funding together so that we can build this site into a truly top resource for those who want to experience a location via fiction. If you are new to this concept, then just give our recommended books a go, follow the characters along the capital's streets, see the English in their own environment, and enjoy the city from a very different and intimate perspective.

Stratford East - Barbara Nadel brings us a new and original pair of detectives in poverty-stricken Stratford East, whose inhabitants are cynical about any possible improvements the Olympic Park can make to their wretched lives. Here another set of Londoners is impelled towards disaster. Maria, a faded stand-up comedian whose fame reached its apogee 20 years ago, seeks the help of dodgy private investigator Lee Arnold when she begins to experience frightening delusions. Maybe they're not all in her mind, which is, frankly, rather filthy.......

Belgravia - Disgruntled servants working in salubrious Belgravia. Not all are unhappy with their lot, for there are Dickensian below-stairs exploiters as well as thoughtless bankers and aristocrats in the grand apartments above, although the chauffeur who finds himself obliged to service both the mistress and the daughter of the house is uncertain as to his good fortune. The novel's plot forms a complex web in which power sways back and forth between employer and employed, where every coming or going has an observer, and it's not long before we anticipate at least two deaths on the way.

SOHO - Alice lives in Soho and her life revolves around her career and attending glamorous premieres and parties. But her life is completely transformed when her partner decides to buy a puppy. Hilarious anecdotes and how to clear up mess (do not wear a scarf!) in this romp through London.....

"A must read if you love dogs!!"

In a past blog we have featured books set in the following areas of London:

Greenwich -

Brick Lane -

Hatton Garden -

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Fiction fit for the Olympics 2012

Capture the Olympic feel through these novels - spectate ringside, via TV or delve into a good read, you are never going to be far from some sporting intrigue and achievement over the next few weeks.

And if you would you like to add any other Olympic-themed books that you know of, then please use the Comments Box below to notify us - let's try and build up a comprehensive list.

Cox by Kate Lace

Rowing. Dan, Rollo and Amy. In a boat Dan and Rollo row perfectly together, but on land they despise each other. So with the addition of Amy to the mix, sporting behaviour is the last thing on their mind. May the best man win? Not a chance. From Henley Regatta to the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, and finally to the biggest race of their lives,the Olympics, their determination to settle old scores threatens to capsize everyone's plans.

Gold by Chris Cleave

Cycling. This book opens at the 2004 Olympic Games with Zoe about to race for gold in the Women's Sprint Cycling event. Three GB cyclists, Kate, Jack and Zoe who go back years. Kate and Zoe are rivals. This is the world of the Olympic cycling athlete, preparing for London 2012. But it is so much more than cycling!

The Fastest Loser by Gideon A Mailer

After witnessing the senseless deaths at the Munich Olympic Village in 1972, Herman aims to find sporting heroes, with different nationalities and ethnicities, who are willing to conceive and raise a child. In essence, to make new life from love and bridge ethnic divides. What better place to do so than in the Olympic Village, a place where the world's youth assemble in their sexual and athletic prime. "What a great novel! It makes me wish I were back in the Village!"

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Fine Florentine Fiction

At TripFiction we have a great selection of books set in the wonderful city of Florence. If we wanted to be reminded of a visit there.... if we wanted to explore the city via fiction and discover a new stimulus....if we wanted to recapture the moments of a memorable trip........ then these are the books we would choose as a starter, truly evocative of the city, encompassing a bit of history, a bit of art and a bit of crime.

And if you have any books set in Florence that you want to share with us, then do so in the Comments Box below.

"See a location through an author's eyes"

Alessandra is not quite fifteen when her prosperous merchant father brings a young painter back with him from Holland to adorn the walls of the new family chapel. She is fascinated by his talents and envious of his abilities and opportunities to paint to the glory of God. Soon her love of art and her lively independence are luring her into closer involvement with all sorts of taboo areas of life. On excursions into the streets of night-time Florence she observes a terrible evil stalking the city and witnesses the rise of the fiery young priest, Savanarola, who has set out to rid the city of vice, richness, even art itself. 

The narrator is Mary Warren, an American. She has been the victim of a near fatal attack in the Boboli Gardens during which her husband was murdered. Two years later, the suspected murderer having been killed in a car crash, she returns to Florence to be with her lover. More murders occur in these crumbling alleyways of this beautiful city

‘A claustrophobic, atmospheric novel, which vividly evokes a city full of ghosts and painted angels.’

In 1966 the Arno River in Florence floods its banks causing huge devastation to stored artworks, and antique books. As a book conservator Margot Harrington flies in – along with many other volunteers – to add expert help in the conservation of fine art. They are known as the “Mud Angels”. She finds her way to a Carmelite convent where she discovers a book, bound within a book of erotic drawings. She is charged in secret to find the highest bidder for these drawings by the abbess, so the convent might supplement its meagre income. This is the story of her quest to conserve this masterpiece, her love affair and the trials of those working under duress to preserve as many items as possible for posterity. 

Click on the covers for more information and here you can find all the books we feature in Florence.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Flake down the warps in Spetses, then the Atlantic

Spetses - The Atlantic  - St Lucia
Two great sailing themed books

We were taken with  the compact book Three Ways to Capsize a Boat by Chris Stewart, the memoirs of an inexperienced mariner who sails against the tide in the Solent in his first ever sailing lesson. He then picks up a crabber and sails around Spetses in Greece, which he captures in delightful detail:

"The little harbour teemed with fish and there were candles in jam jars on the tables, the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle complemented by dishes of fried squid with the lightest coating of batter glistening with droplets of freshly squeezed lemon"

Stewart goes on to join a crew on a vintage wooden boat, en route to Iceland and the Northern Hemipshere, and then across the Atlantic. He shares his experiences and observations of being boat-bound for many days on the trot, but despite the vast greyness, he soon sees that birds are the flowers of the sea; learns that the fulmar doesn't lay her first eggs until she is eight, so careens around the oceans with nowhere to perch for comfort and warmth; that dolphins come to skitter and play around the boat as it ploughs onwards.... Even how (not) to use a sextant...
The reader learns alongside the author the joys, fears and occasional lunacy of crewing a boat.

Our second choice continues the nautical theme, in the mystery genre, Final Passage by Timothy Frost. When Martin Lancaster was eighteen, his father was tragically lost at sea during a transatlantic yacht race. Twenty-five years later, Martin discovers hidden logbooks in his mother's attic, and vows to find out the truth. His quest takes him racing across the Atlantic in the Columbus Cup, the world's largest-ever regatta, an event that becomes a personal voyage of discovery and disaster. On the Caribbean island of St Lucia, with his enemies closing in, Martin must make one desperate final sea passage to discover the shocking truth about his family - and himself.

And as always if you would like to suggest any maritime-themed books, that are evocative of location, then please let us know. We would love to hear from you...

"See a location through an author's eyes"

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Insider tips for LONDON via fiction - some real gems!

A couple of books set just out of the centre of London. Truly evocative, truly brilliant - read the books set in our selected areas, and the environs literally jump off the pages; three different genres that reflect the huge diversity of this grand, Olympic city, a little something for everyone.

First off is maritime GREENWICH, captured in this great book by Penny Hancock. Life set on the Thames just lifts off the pages, and a gripping psycho thriller to boot. Find out the meaning of Tamasa, the original name given to the Thames; take the bus to Blackheath which derives its name from the burials there of the victims of the Black Death; experience views onto the Wapping Tobacco Warehouse, once the biggest public building in the world...
"The visual descriptions of the river and the house are incredibly compelling"

To HATTON GARDEN, the heart of London's jewellery trade, with author Rachel Lichtenstein, and explore the byways and highways of this little known quarter of London. Discover the rich layers of history in this well researched exploration of London.

Monica Ali has written a super book about the BRICK LANE area of London; we thought we would feature a book that is perhap a little less well known.
After ten years living abroad, Tarquin Hall wanted to return to his native London. Lured by his nostalgia for a leafy suburban childhood spent in south-west London, he returned with his Indian-born, American fiance in tow. But, priced out of the housing market, they found themselves living not in a townhouse, oozing Victorian charm, but in a squalid attic above a Bangladeshi sweatshop on London's Brick Lane. A grimy skylight provided their only window on the new world.

Do come and leave reviews on our site Tell others whether a book you have read is soooo evocative of location that you are almost there with the characters - it's a great way to experience somewhere new or to revisit a destination that you have loved!

"See a location through an author's eyes"

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The GAP YEAR and BACKPACKER experience via novels, set in more places than can be counted

Descriptions of several beautiful countries in our selected books are enough to get you jumping onto the next plane, though some of the stories might have your hair standing on end........

China  Burma  India  Indonesia  Koh Pha-Ngan  Australia  Hong Kong

Are you Experienced? by William Sutcliffe will have you in stitches. The protagonist is Dave, a 19-year-old Londoner on a gap year before starting university. He had no intention of leaving Europe, until his best mate James, who's about to go on a trek through the Himalayas, challenges him. "Do you want to learn Fwench David? Something pwactical for your CV?" he taunts when he hears Dave is going to be a waiter at a Swiss ski resort. So Dave is persuaded to head off on the gap year experience of his life in India...

Border Run by Simon Lewis.......Bored of the ‘mango smoothie’ trail and keen to spice up their Facebook albums, and maybe their sex lives, Jake and Will take a tour into China’s jungle borderland with Burma. Their guide, however, has his own agenda and gradually the two gap-year students slip into a nightmarish spiral of murder and moral decay, their chance of survival determined by a game of hide and seek played out with deadly crossbows.
A fast paced, adrenaline ride of a novel: Deliverance meets Lord of the Flies.

The Backpacker by John Harris - The author's trip to India starts badly when he finds himself looking at the sharp end of a knife in a train station cubicle. His life is saved by the enigmatic Rick, who persuades John to abandon his mundane plans for the future for much, much more. Fast forward to the Thai island of Koh Pha-Ngan where they pose as millionaire aristocrats in a hedonistic Eden of beautiful girls, free drugs and wild beach parties. Soon pursued by Thai Mafia, they escape to Indonesia, Australia and Hong Kong, facing danger at every turn.

As ever, if you have a title you think we could feature - a book that is set in and evocative of a location - then just let us know via the Comments Box