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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Selected fiction set in Barcelona

Barcelona is no. 7 in Top Travel Destinations 2012. Such a popular destination, it's not surprising we have had lots of requests via our service for recommended fiction set in Barcelona. So, here we share some of our top personal picks....Stroll through the Rambla and the Barri Gòtic, enjoy lunch at the famous restaurant Els Quatre Gats, climb steps to the top of the Sagrada Familia - and do all this via fiction. There is so much to glean from a good novel that brings a chosen location to life! 

"Ever wondered what makes Catalonia different and special? That'll be the people, their character and the history. This novel introduces you to all of these elements in a very readable story. If you are like me, you will make a beeline back to Santa Maria del Mar to see all the things you missed before. Some of the characterisations are rather 'sensational' and it gallops through mediaeval history at a huge pace .. but it is very enjoyable if historical fiction is your thing. It's a good translation too."
(Reader Review on Tripfiction)

Fancy a spot of romance?"This book is filled with Elizabeth Adler trademark descriptions of the locality. A freshness in her writing bring the city to life and for those of us lucky enough to travel there, and those of us reading from our armchair. The Number 1 novelist for conjuring local flair"

Don't be fooled - Barcelona, with all its illustrious colour and exterior finery, hasn't always been able to curb its darker yearnings. Blame it on a bubbling, repressive concoction made with a pinch of Church, a touch of Crown and a large dose of General Franco to stir up the insides of its very independent and anarchic Catalonian spirit. Repression, vice, immigration - the 14 stories in Barcelona Noir will divert readers' eyes from Barcelona's lively Ramblas and Gaudi spires, opening them onto the city's tainted side; one that will never appear on any tour.

And no list for Barcelona set fiction can be complete without mentioning Carlos Ruiz Zafón's work. It is Barcelona, 1945, post war, and a boy, Daniel awakes and can no longer remember his Mother’s face. Daniel’s widowed father, who deals in antiquarian books, introduces him to the Cemeter of Forgotten Books – each book waiting for someone to care for them. From an overwhelming choice, Daniel chooses The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax and then goes on a quest to find the rest of Carax’s work. However, he discovers that someone has been destroying every work of his and that his own book may well be one of the only works by Carax in existence. He is drawn to a world of other worldliness, love and madness and it becomes clear he has to find out more about Carax before his own family is engulfed by the scary world he has entered.

Have you read any Barcelona fiction that really drops you into the buzzing city? Then share it with other readers and leave a comment in our Comments Box.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Renaissance VENICE captured in fiction

The broad span of Renaissance Venice in fiction. Capture the feel, the smells and the people through these three books which truly capture period detail and life in the canal city...... and click on the links for more information. Available to purchase through TF (via the link) or from your local bookshop.

The mask depicted here is the type worn by doctors during this period and the long nose was stuffed full with pungent and fragrant herbs to protect from the stench of the streets (and people, no doubt) and to stave off infection.

1576. Five years after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto, a ship steals unnoticed into Venice bearing a deadly cargo. A man more dead than alive disembarks and staggers into Piazza San Marco. He brings a gift to Venice from Constantinople. Within days the city is infected with bubonic plague - and the Turkish Sultan has his revenge. But the ship also holds a secret stowaway - Feyra, a young and beautiful harem doctor fleeing a future as the Sultan's concubine. Only her wits and medical knowledge keep her alive as the plague ravages Venice.
In despair the Doge commissions the architect Andrea Palladio to build the greatest church of his career - an offering to God so magnificent that Venice will be saved. But Palladio's own life is in danger too, and it will require all skills of medico Annibale Cason, the city's finest plague doctor, to keep him alive.

1527. While the Papal city of Rome burns - brutally sacked by an invading army including Protestant heretics - two of her most interesting and wily citizens slip away, their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed as the enemy breaks down their doors. Though almost as damaged as their beloved city, Fiammetta Bianchini and Bucino Teodoldi - a fabulous courtesan and her dwarf companion - are already planning their future. They head for the shimmering beauty of Venice, a honey pot of wealth and trade where they start to rebuild their business. As a partnership they are invincible: Bucino, clever with a sharp eye and a wicked tongue and Fiammetta, beautiful and shrewd, trained from birth to charm, entertain and satisfy men who have the money to support her. Venice, however, is a city which holds its own temptations. From the admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his Sultan's court, to the searing passion of a young lover who wants more than his allotted nights. But the greatest challenge comes from a young blind woman, a purveyor of health and beauty, who insinuates her way into their lives with devastating consequences for them all.

1468. Sosia Simeon, a free spirit with a strange predilection for books and Venetians is making her particular mark on the fabled city. On the other side of the Grand Canal, Wendelin von Speyer from Germany is setting up the first printing press in Venice and looking for the book that will make his fortune.
A love triangle develops between Sosia, Wendelin's young editor, and the seductive scribe Felice Feliciano, a man who loves the crevices of the alphabet the way other men love the crevices of women. Before long, a dark magic begins to haunt Sosia and the printers: an obsessive nun and a book-hating priest conspire against them, and soon their fate hangs in the balance. Binding them all together is the poet Catullus - whose desperate and unrequited love inspired the most tender erotic poems of antiquity.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

TripFiction is ready for Reader Reviews

"see a location through an author's eyes"

We have a rolling list of review copies to send out to anyone who is looking for a new read - just let us know if you are interested in the Comments Box below and you can choose from some top titles.

We are also inviting readers of our Blog to visit and give us independent reviews of the books on our site.

Reviews are based on both Content and on Location - share with other visitors to the site what you think. Did you enjoy reading the novel, did it transport you to the location? Our research tells us that there are many people out there who value and gain a lot of insight into a chosen location by reading a novel set there - and independent reviews from you will really add value to what we offer.

In time, we would like to be able to collate the top three locational novels set, for example, in Paris or Australia or Moscow - based on the reviews we have received. Would Eat, Pray, Love be at the top of the Rome/India/Bali list, or would there be others that you would favour instead, ones that really conjure up each location?

So, it is now over to you. Visit select the book you want to review from the drop down list and click on Add Review. We have, we hope, made it as easy as possible for visitors to our site to do this.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Harmattan set in Niger, West Africa

Harmattan by Gavin Weston set in Niger

Our review of this book can now be found on the new TripFiction website

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Fiction set in the Pyrenees

The Pyrenees, a range of mountains that forms a border between Spain and France, are a classic holiday destination. We have chosen three novels from both sides of the divide. All different genres, they just capture the spirit and feel of this beautiful part of the world. Do come along for the trip and see a location through an author's eyes.... click on each link and you will be taken to the book.

A timeless piece of writing, short, a two hour read. Set in the Catalan Pyrenees around the villages of Pallarès, Montsent, Torrent, Noguera, Ermita. It describes the hardships of peasant life in a beautifully lyrical and evocative way, and is the story of Conxa, and how she falls for Jaume when she is living with her aunt, Tia. In the background is the build-up to the Spanish Civil War, King Alfonso XIII leaves the country and as the country changes so does Conxa's life. The mountains, the search for mushrooms - Moixarrons and Carreretes - the animals, the life and its hardships....just gorgeously descriptive.

And over to the French side with this light hearted novel set in Fogas. The Auberge des Deux Vallées has been bought by an English couple and not by the Mayor's brother-in-law as had been expected. The English are going to run a restaurant? Zut alors, ce n'est pas possible! The Mayor calls an emergency meeting hoping to authorise an order for compulsory purchase. But his deputy, Christian Dupuy, whose conscience always leads his politics, refuses to condone this. Follow the trials and tribulations of this small community...

And again on the French side a rivetting tale set in early part of the 20th century. It is 1928 and Frederick Watson crashes his car in a snowstorm in the foothills of the Pyrenees. He believes he hears a woman's voice: 'The Winter Ghosts'. He abandons his car and walks down the hillside path to the small village of Nulle, a sad village, and there he finds shelter. The young woman he meets there tell him her terrible story.
"Brilliant writing on the French countryside, if you like a bit of ghostly surrealism and a bit of romance, plus stunning descriptions, then this is definitely for you!"

More books set in the Pyrenees (and in over 670 other destinations around the globe) at Come and join us, write reviews of any books that have been evocative of location, suggest new titles....generally, we would LOVE to hear from you.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Take a virtual tour of Tokyo via fiction

Take a virtual tour into the heart of Tokyo.............

A coming of age story, almost a novella, that charts the relationship between Takashi and Haruka.
For us at TripFiction, this is a fabulous novel that weaves its way into the heart of Tokyo life and brings the city into sharp focus for the reader. This is a great novel for exploring frenetic Tokyo life, offering up little aspects that make Tokyo, well, Tokyo. The automatic opening of taxi doors, the young peoples' love of Western and Japanese named brands,descriptions of the kotatsu heaters that many older style dwellings still have. Pocky Sticks! The intricacies of the subway lines. And the delightful examples of how the Japanese enthusiastically embrace western words and names that result in what, to us, are plain wacky: the author mentions two wedding magazines called Zexy and 25ans, and the coffee shop "hors et dans". It's all there, little vignettes of how the city works.... and not a single mention of Pocari Sweat!! If you fancy an armchair trip to Tokyo, either to rekindle memories of a visit, or to prepare for an upcoming journey; or just because you want a bit of insight, then give this book a go. It is a a quick read and can be purchased via this link:

If you fancy a couple of other novel suggestions, then click on this link to our previous Tokyo blogspot. They are all top reads and will transport you to the city via fiction.


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Hanoi set fiction

The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb

This post can now be found on the TripFiction blog here

Monday, 3 September 2012

A couple of novel suggestions for ROME

We are taking you on a journey to Rome this week, via some wonderful fiction. We have chosen just a couple of books that are perhaps less well known than some of the more obvious choices like: 
or the novels by Steven Saylor or Iain Pears, for example. For us these two iconic novels just capture the feel of the Eternal City from two very unusual perspectives. There are lots more books that will evoke Rome through their pages at -  just pay us a visit!

"see a location through an author's eyes"

"This is not really like anything else I have read (the Road, perhaps?). One single sentence guides you through just over 100 pages from beginning to end. 1943, a young pregnant woman mulls over her situation, the situation of the world, and her place in Rome, and Rome's place in the world, in a stream of consciousness. I read it in a couple of hours and was bowled over."

A small, culturally mixed community living in an apartment building in the centre of Rome is thrown into disarray when one of the neighbours is murdered. As each of the victim's neighbours is questioned, the reader is offered an all-access pass into the most colourful neighbourhood in contemporary Rome. Each character recounts his or her story - revealing the dramas of emigration, immigration, and the fears and misunderstandings of a life spent on society's margins, abused by mainstream culture's fears, preconceptions and insensitivities. (and isn't the title just wonderfully quirky?)

Please help us the build this site into a really valuable resource for travellers: you can do this by buying your books through our site, as we get a small commission from every sale with no cost to the purchaser (if you buy a Maserati through our site, for example, that would help us greatly!); come and write reviews and, of course, suggest more titles to add to the over 2000 titles. It's a great way to get to know a destination in such a unique way.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Cool coffee fiction

Drinking a glorious cup of coffee, a Flat White, a Macchiato, a Verlängerter, a Cappuccino, an Espresso, a Café crème .... where did the coffee craze start? We have selected a couple of historical novels that just capture the essence of the bean, with a bit of chutzpah and some great writing.

Amsterdam in the 1600s. Lienzo, a Portugese Jew, stumbles across a new commodity - coffee - which, if he plays his cards right, will make him the richest man in Holland. But others stand in his way - rival traders who do all in their power to confuse the exchange and scupper his plans, his brother who is jealous of his financial wizardry and even his brother's beautiful wife who both tempts and spurns him in equal measure.

Ethiopia, 1895. Robert Wallis, would-be poet, bohemian and impoverished dandy, accepts a commission from coffee merchant Samuel Pinker to categorise the different tastes of coffee - and encounters Pinker's free-thinking daughters, Philomenia, Ada and Emily. As romance blossoms with Emily, Robert realises that the Muse and marriage may not be incompatible after all. Sent to Abyssinia to make his fortune in the coffee trade, he becomes obsessed with a negro slave girl, Fikre. He decides to use the money he has saved to buy her from her owner - a decision that will change not only his own life, but the lives of the three Pinker sisters .

Please do suggest any other coffee themed novels that you know of. We would love to be able to build up a collection of books with coffee at their heart - just let us know via the Comments Box.