Travelling abroad is a little different at the moment, so here are some novels I’ve loved which have such a vivid sense of place they will transport you straight from your home to the sights and sounds of the countries in which they are set. Enjoy your virtual travels.
The Summer Book – Tove Jansson
This short, beautiful novel was written for adults by the author of the Moomin books. Six year old Sophia and her grandmother while away a summer on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland.
The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver
Moving between Mexico and the US this book follows Harrison Shepherd from Mexico City in the 1930s, where he becomes part of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s set, to a United States on the cusp of WWII and beyond.
Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
A page-turning story of epic proportions, apparently based on Roberts’ life. At times utterly unbelievable but compelling nonetheless, Shantaram will set you down in the slums of Mumbai and then whisk you to Bollywood film sets via prisons, gangsters and romances.
A Room with a View – E. M. Forster
Still a classic novel a hundred years after it was written. Lucy Honeychurch visits her cousin in Florence and her Italian trip eventually leads her to realise her life doesn’t have to be dull. You’ll feel you’re standing on that flower-filled hillside with her.
Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
“There’s rich, there’s filthy rich, and then there’s crazy rich…” and in this novel you’ll get to see that world from the inside as you head (by private jet, naturally) to Singapore. Full of larger than life characters and lavish lifestyles this is the first in a fun, frothy trilogy.