Travel the world with the Atlas of Us – Tracy Buchanan

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From San Francisco, via Exmoor, Venice, Serbia, Finland to Thailand. and Australia..

Travel the world with the ATLAS OF US


This is a booktrail which takes you far and wide – to the stunning locations such as that as evoked on the cover to England, Australia, Dubai, San Francisco and even Serbia  – an usual location for a novel maybe and certainly an eclectic mix, but one which is used to dramatic and stunning effect. Finland, as the author’s personal favourite location is also evoked beautifully on the page.



Louise Fenton decides that she has to travel halfway across the world to the site of the 2004 Tsunami  in order to find her mother Nora who was there when the disaster struck. She meets up with Jay a journalist who is looking for Claire, a friend who seems to be connected with Nora in some way. Louise is curious and wants to know more. What she discovers is far beyond whatever she can imagine.

What a journey in both the emotional and physical  sense of the world. There is the heartbreak of seeing the destruction of the Tsunami at first hand, the war torn parts of Serbia and the desolate and rather chilling backdrop of Exmoor.

But walking off the map is at the heart of this book – exploring, letting yourself go and discover things, opening up your mind and daring to dream and hope.

Let’s Walk off the map –


Krabi Thailand

The opening scenes of setting where the Tsunami happened are heartbreaking as louise goes in search of answers –

When I close my eyes, the water comes: the violent thud of waves, the tar smell of salty dampness  seeping through the cracks of my dreams. But when I look out of the bus window, it’s nothing but mangled cars again; boats that have somehow found their way onto the roofs of two -storey buildings; suitcases flung open, their innards spilling out on to the dusty pavements below

It is  perhaps the most naturally stunning of al the locations in the book but one stepped in sadness and human disaster – being recent in our memories makes it all the more distressing as we can only wonder what it would feel like to be searching for a loved one – whilst thanking our stars or a god that we ‘re not really there ourselves.

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Exmoor, UK

We are introduced to Exmoor by a drawing tucked inside the Atlas of Us –

The water colour of grey pooling around the edges of moss green valleys, ready to plummet  downwards and destroy everything below

This is the setting for the main part of Claire’s story and we attend a wedding there on the rocky, windy british valley, the slopes of the cliffs into the sea, the sheer drops and the blustering wind – Claire takes her dog Archie for a walk. Th opening line to this chapter and locations sets the scene in more ways than one –

In Exmoor, there a feeling that, at any moment , something might suddenly plummet.

Such evocative writing is not just evocative of location but of emotion too and that makes for some powerful travelling experience. This is the setting for a wedding, a farmer with a secret past and a woman who gets drawn into the evocative and secret past of a family and their rustic home. There are many issues evoked alongside this setting with Claire and her growing relationship with a man called Milo – a strange and secret man indeed. His rugged demeanour and mysterious ways was as wild and mind-blowing as the Exmoor setting….

The ragged outline of the Exmoor cliffs - Wikipedia
The ragged outline of the Exmoor cliffs – Wikipedia


Snapshots – 


Claire takes a trip to Italy – no spoilers here and evokes the location here via just a few words

Venice reeks of secrets. Its air is heavy with them: its narrow alley ways and shadowed canals  tailored for them



Based in San Francisco before her travels, we get s glimpse of her home and early life –

Claire hesitated for a moment peering out of the vast windows that overlooked the Golden Gate bridge. It shone bright red against the stark black sky….

She’d even rented a room in one of San Francisco’s painted ladies, the multicoloured Edwardian houses that lined the city’s Haight-Asbury district

But the scent and air of Thailand never goes away and away from the destruction of the tsunami we see the beauty of the country – this is the scene I imagine describing the cover –


Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand

The rickety old boat bobs up and down on the turquoise seas  and I press my hair against my flyaway hair, trying not to get sick. The girl shad been so excited when I told them I was going to Ko P{hi Phi Don by boat, especially when they heard the boat’;s name meant ‘ Sea monkey’ in thai

In another location, we see and experience the war torn country of Serbia for the first time – 

A Belgrade and B Fruska Gora
A Belgrade and B Fruska Gora

Fruška Gora – Serbia

Claire tried to conceal her  shock as she took in her first views of belgrade. the buildings outside her taxi window were  scorched and windowless, like charred paper decorations hanging from the sky, ready to  crumble at one puff of breath

What the author describes as her favourite location in the interview at the back of the book, there are stunning descriptions of this beloved place –

Inari and Iso
A Inari where Filipe’s family have land and B Iso – Syote, Finland

IsoSyöte, Finland

Claire looked out at the  white landscape spread out before her – skies as pink as a child’s blush…

…like a scene from a Christmas card…

Finland was ideal; she‘d never been before so there were new vistas t explore, new foods to taste, new scents to smell, and something to get her writing teeth into: the land disputes between the indigenous Sami people and the Finnish government were ideal material for her.



Ayers Rock or Uluru is at the heart of Australia's red centre
Ayers Rock or Uluru is at the heart of Australia’s red centre (Wikipedia)

The Red Centre of Australia is a land on fire,burned up with fever, hot and agitated


And a quote that sums up both the essence of what we love at The Booktrail and what we believe reading and travelling means –

Photo courtesy of Tracy Buchanan
Photo courtesy of Tracy Buchanan

They’d been there for her when she was a kid craving consistency too, curling out in a little nook somewhere, the characters she’d read about becoming her friends when she only had her family for company as they travelled from one place to the next.

The Atlas of Us – and the world of books – seen through the eyes of the author – meet Tracy on twitter – @TracyBuchanan and

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