London Calling

I’m proud to say I bought my first Virago Press book today! It’s Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann, which I’ve been hearing is a cosy coming of age story similar to I Capture the Castle and Mariana by Monica Dickens. Now that I know to look for the green Virago spines, I’ve seen lots of them at my local secondhand bookstore. Here’s the opening two sentences:

When Judith was eighteen, she saw that the house next door, empty for years, was getting ready again. Gardeners mowed and mowed, and rolled and rolled the tennis-court; and planted tulips and forget-me-nots in the stone urns that bordered the lawn at the river’s edge.

My husband and I have been talking about how much we’d love to go back to London — it’s all the British reading we’ve been doing bringing on the nostalgia. For me it was Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, she writes London so well in general (in Mrs. Dalloway too), it brought my previous trips there in the spring back again.

What books bring back a place you’ve been or evoke a place you want to go to?

11 thoughts on “London Calling

  1. Joan Hunter Dunn says:

    Oh it has to be Possession by A.S. Byatt. I’d bought it for a good long read whilst working in France one summer. As the story unravels it was partly set in the small towns, coast line of France I was staying in. I loved that book I must reread it to go back to that great summer.

    • Carolyn says:

      That sounds lovely, to read it where it’s set! I have read Dickens in London and Proust in Paris and both felt so right to read in those cities, I felt like I got more of the book, being where it was written.

  2. Mrs.B. says:

    Ah so many books make me want to revisit a place or finally visit one! Anything by Daphne du Maurier makes me want to go to Cornwall. The Magus by John Fowles and a greek island. Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (Spain and Paris 1920s).
    I believe that books that take you to a place and create a certain sense of atmosphere are what separates the good novels from the great ones.

    • Carolyn says:

      Yes, Hemingway definitely makes me want to go to Paris and drink white wine and eat all the good food he writes about. A Moveable Feast is like that too.

      I’ve been noticing Cornwall come up in a few books lately (Mariana and Hetty Dorval), it’s making me a bit interested.

  3. Aarti says:

    I think a lot of books do this for me, too! I remember when I read The Time Traveler’s Wife, it evoked Chicago so completely for me. That, of course, is the only one I can think of at this time.

    • Carolyn says:

      I guess I don’t read many novels set in American/Canadian cities, maybe that would be something to try, it would be nice to read about a place closer to home.

  4. Bina says:

    I fell for Virago books this year as well and I´ve yet to be disappointed by one 🙂

    I have to say that it´s London for me as well, it´s my favorite city! Wodehouse and Agatha Christie and Sarah Waters, and so many books I love are set in London. Most other books I read tell me about places I´ve never been but long to see.

    • Carolyn says:

      I have a perpetual internal debate over whether I prefer London or Paris, English or French literature more. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian… 😉

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