The reason we read is to go somewhere else, if only in our minds. In some books the setting is merely a backdrop. But in others, it is pervasive. We can immerse ourselves in another world. These are eight literary places* I would like to visit.
*many will be in England. Control your surprise.
York Moor National Park, England
Integral to the work of the Brontes
“…a north-midland shire, dusk with moorland, ridged with mountain: this I see. There are great moors behind and on each hand of me; there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley at my feet. The population here must be thin, and I see no passengers on these roads: they stretch out east, west, north, and south — white, broad, lonely; they are all cut in the moor, and the heather grows deep and wild to their very verge.”
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
The site of the Hound of the Baskervilles
“I find that before the terrible event occurred several people had seen a creature upon the moor which corresponds with this Baskerville demon, and which could not possibly be any animal known to science. They all agreed that it was a huge creature, luminous, ghastly, and spectral. I have cross-examined these men, one of them a hard-headed countryman, one a farrier, and one a moorland farmer, who all tell the same story of this dreadful apparition, exactly corresponding to the hell-hound of the legend. I assure you that there is a reign of terror in the district, and that it is a hardy man who will cross the moor at night.”
The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
“For if a room that exists under the governance, authority, and intent of others seems smaller than it is, then a room that exists in secret can, regardless of its dimensions, seem as vast as one cares to imagine.”
A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles
The Andean mountains, Peru
A magical village in The Bedlam Stacks
The sun came out suddenly. Greenish blue shadows fell across the boat and turned the river turquoise. The light was shining down through transparent parts in the stacks, which weren’t rock but glass. … When I put my hand out to the coloured shadow beside me, it was hot. The boatman steered us away from it but he didn’t quite move quickly enough. Where the tip of the boom swung into the light, the grass sail caught fire.
The Bedlam Stacks, Natasha Pulley
Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul
Central location in Midnight at the Pera Palace
The Pera Palace was established in 1892 to service clients arriving on the Orient Express in the capital of the Ottoman Empire. For decades afterward, it was the obvious place for out-of-towners to stay. The wood-and-iron elevator, which rose up like a birdcage through the marble staircase, had been only the second one installed in Europe (after the Eiffel Tower’s). A baroque dining hall stood next to a lounge of faux-marble inlay and filigreed screens, covered by a soaring glass canopy.
Midnight at the Pera Palace, Charles King
Godsend Castle, England
Home of the Mortmain family in I Capture the Castle
Framlingham Castle. Historic England Archive Photo Library ref: M030050
I have just remarked to Rose that our situation is really rather romantic two girls in this strange and lonely house. She replied that she saw nothing romantic about being shut up in a crumbling ruin surrounded by a sea of mud. I must admit that our home is an unreasonable place to live in. Yet I love it. The house itself was built in the time of Charles II, but it was grafted on to a fourteenth century castle that had been damaged by Cromwell. The whole of our east wall was part of the castle; there are two round towers in it.
I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
Various old theatres, London
Those used for stage magic in The Prestige
“The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.”
The Prestige, Christopher Priest
Hoosac Public Library
Main location in The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn
How he managed to get down to Front Street, Anthony never remembered. It was as if the whole thing were happening in a dream, as if some force outside himself were moving him around from place to place. All he knew was that sometime after he got dressed and slipped out of the house, he was on Front Street and crouching behind a bush in the side yard of the old Winterborn place, shivering with the cold.
The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn, John Bellairs
I know there are plenty more. I could go on and on!
Where do you wish you could visit – real or imagined?
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Broke and Bookish.