Have you ever read stories with settings so vivid that you felt you could be standing there alongside the characters? Some settings in books have become so iconic and intrinsic to their stories that they serve as active elements rather than passive backgrounds.
From dark and brooding to serene and whimsical, authors have been capturing locations around the world and transporting readers for ages. In Literary Places (White Lion Publishing), breathtaking illustrations fromAmy Grimes accompany detailed descriptions by Sarah Baxter to carry you to 25 famous bookish destinations around the globe.
As Baxter points out at the beginning of this beautiful book, “Truly great writers recreate not only locations but also eras and histories.” Writers can take you not just to another place in the world, but also to another time entirely. I found this to be the case as soon as I opened my translated copy of Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes took me to the late Middle Ages when a heightened form of chivalry was doggedly pursued by the brave knight Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza. Their efforts more often than not strayed to misadventure, but heartfelt all the same.
Capturing the “windswept Spanish plains of windmills, wheat fields, and literary giants,” Grimes completes a romantic view of La Mancha. With each illustration, Baxter brings a detailed look through historical and cultural lenses on the author who penned the classic story and highlights of each iconic location when it was written.
Don Quixote, for instance, was written following Spain’s Siglo De Oro-Golden Age. A period of expansive arts, architecture, and adventure, this setting captures the spirit of romantic quests. Cervantes mixes these quests with comical mistakes and infatuating characters to make La Mancha the perfect setting for his determined do-gooders. Even the windmills made formidable foes for the protagonists.
Another fantastic entry in this team’s inspired traveler’s guide is New York City. Forming the “big brash backdrop for the classic American tale of disaffected youth,” Holden Caulfield, J.D. Salinger’s antihero from The Catcher in the Rye, tries to find solace in one of the busiest yet loneliest cities in the world.
One of the last location highlights that I’ll mention is the Mississippi River, lush with color and full of literary symbolic meaning. Depicted in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Baxter explains that Twain “…worked as a riverboat pilot, gaining intimacy with the Mississippi’s many twists, turns and eddies.” This river sets the scene for his classic tale of exhilarating boyhood adventure and complicated racial relationships.
Many readers will enjoy leafing through the colorful pages of Literary Places and finding the instantly recognizable destinations of some of their favorite classics. Readers will also discover lesser-known yet just as wonderous places such as Kerala, Soweto and Davos. All of these places will feed your literary wanderlust and may even inspire future trips to explore on and off the page.
Literary Places will be available to purchase March 4 2019.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Sarah Baxter grew up in Norfolk, England and now lives in Bath. Her passion for travel and the great outdoors saw her traverse Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the United States before settling into a writing career. She was Associate Editor of Wanderlust magazine, the bible for independent-minded travellers, for more than ten years and has also written extensively on travel for a diverse range of other publications, including the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Independent newspapers. Sarah has also contributed to more than a dozen Lonely Planet guidebooks.
Amy Grimes is an illustrator based in London. Drawing inspiration from nature and the natural world, Amy’s work often features bright and bold illustrated motifs, floral icons and leafy landscapes. As well as working on commissioned illustrations, Amy also sells prints, textiles and stationery under the brand of Hello Grimes.Sarah is the author of the first book in the Inspired Traveller’s Guide series, Spiritual Places, as well as A History of the World in 500 Walks and A History of the World in500 Railway Journeys.