When the fictional and non fictional worlds collide

If travel be the food of love, read on…..

MAP-FICTION-AND-NON-

Whether you wish to visit a place where an author has set their books, or the places where he or she grew up, then literary travel is for you. From Poldark’s Cornwall to Charles Dickens’ London, there are plenty of places and museums to visit and indulge your senses.

There are places now that I associate with fictional happenings however that I can not see them in a ‘normal’ light now, nor would I want to, for they are the place where I have walked, talked, met, dined and following in the footsteps of my favourite characters.

Fictional stops  – Colombia and France….

Colombia

ChroicleGarcia Marquez, a giant of Spanish language fiction sets his stories in the fictional town of Macondo thought to be inspired by his real home of Aracataca in Colombia. Having read his novels set there, I only wish it were possible to visit for real (maybe with his magical realism I will be able to one day)

However, it was the village in Chronicle of a Death Foretold where I really wanted to go, in order to run and find Santiago and warn him of what was to come. This novel is set in a small fictional Colombia coastal town but the story was inspired by events in Sucre, Colombia that the author had heard about as a family he and his family knew were involved in similarly chilling events.

Paris  – St Sulpice

da-vinci-code2Just what is the power of fiction? Can fictional worlds and non fictional worlds ever be confused? Well the moment I visited Saint Sulpice I realised that yes they could….

Visitors from all over the world would come here and sit and trace their hands along the Rose line looking for the break where Silas had smashed his way through the floor …. of the hordes of tourists who would sit near the upside down pyramid of the Louvre…

World literature  – books set in iconic settings all over the world really can blur the line between real and fictional worlds. And that’s the best kind of literary travel there is.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/the-da-vinci-code-paris/

Read this sign that the Church had to place inside close to the place where all the Da Vinci fans would go to visit….

Back Camera

Non fictional stops:

Scotland

Dan Boothby and the Island of dreams

book onePlaces inspired writers and inspire other writers to go there too. Kyleakin Lighthouse, for example in Scotland is the island where Gavin Maxwell once lived. He was the author of  A Ring of Bright Water– a captivating story about his relationship with three otters and the enchanting landscape of the Scottish highlands. Dan Boothby followed him in his footsteps and wrote his own diary of life there and the Maxwell effect……

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/writing-about-the-island-of-dreams-dan-boothby/

Food and a love of Iran

Jennifer Klinec is the author of  ‘The Temporary Bride’ in which she details her travels to Iran to learn about the food and the culture there. What she ends up temp bridgediscovering however is much more complex and unexpected entirely..

It’s the a story about love in so many ways – the love of food, the love and respect she has for Iran and a curiosity to get right under the skin of a fascinating country and its people. She is no naive traveller, she is rather a travelling ambassador of sorts who aims to discover the gems that are tucked away in family homes, markets, shops and steeped in tradition.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/if-food-be-the-sustenance-of-love-read-on-jennifer-klinec-and-writing-about-iran/

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England and French Riviera – The Mystery of the Blue Train Agatha Christie

the-mystery-of-the-blue-train

Why a booktrail?

Not the infamous Orient Express maybe, but when a woman is found murdered on the train, Poirot comes on board.

Story in a nutshell

When the luxurious Blue Train pulls into the station at Nice, a guard attempts to wake Ruth Kettering who is still sleeping in her compartment. He is shocked to discover that she is dead and has been felled by a heavy blow  – her features almost unrecognizable. Ruth Kettering was the daughter of an American millionaire and her rubies appear to be missing…

Poirot is called to investigate but he’s not sure that the prime suspect – Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek is the murderer, so he stages an exact and chilling re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

Place and setting

LONDON - Victoria Station Where the train departs from Paris - Place de la Concorde A little man with a face like a  rat crosses the Place de la Concorde France - South of France - France Riviera - Cannes When they arrived at Cannes, Katherine got out and walked up and down the platform France - South of France - France Riviera - Nice The final destination of the train
LONDON – Victoria Station
Where the train departs from
FRANCE – Paris – Place de la Concorde
A little man with a face like a rat crosses the Place de la Concorde
France – South of France – France Riviera – Cannes
When they arrived at Cannes, Katherine got out and walked up and down the platform
France – South of France – France Riviera – Nice
The final destination of the train

Train travel Agatha Christie style? Maybe keep one eye open when you sleep and always look over your shoulder when awake as murders appear to take place on her trains. This might not be the famous Orient Express but it’s a journey which ends in murder all the same.

A leisurely journey by train to the French Riviera might sound nice but poor Ruth is found dead – strangled in her carriage with her ruby “Heart of fire’ missing. This valuable stone had been given to her by her father. Ruth’s husband was on the train but he claims not to have seen Ruth. Others say he did.

Ruth’s maid is another strange character on the train, mixed up in the events of that day. In fact there are a range of strange characters with dubious backgrounds that Poirot finds it hard to understand at first.

The reenactment – like a reconstruction of the crime and the events is eerily evoked. Taking place just after the real crime and in such a closed space, the atmosphere is eerily evoked.

Old fashioned murder investigations resume  – with a potential jewel thief, a rich woman dead on a train and a cigarette case with the letter K engraved on it.

The plot of this novel is based on the 1923 Poirot short story  ‘The Plymouth Express’ and features the first mention and description of the fictional village St Mary Mead where Christie’s later Miss Marple stories would be set.

Paris, St Petersburg, London, The Amazon Rainforest – The Last Kiss Goodbye – Tasmina Perry

last kiss goodbye

Why a booktrail?

A faded photograph starts a search for the love lost across the years

Story in a nutshell

1961.

Rosamund Bailey is ready to change the world. She is young, wants to fight for what she believes in and meets her match in Dominic Blake. He is an explorer and also wants to break down boundaries and to leave his mark on the world. When tragedy strikes however, a faded photo of their last kiss is all that remains

2014.

Deep in the vaults of a museum, A faded photo of a lingering kiss is found by archivist Abby Morgan. Fascinated by this one moment frozen in time, she sets out to find out who this couple were and what happened all those years ago.

Place and setting

From London, to Paris, to St Petersburg and the Amazon Rainforest...
From London, to Paris, to St Petersburg and the Amazon Rainforest…

A story set in Paris, London, and deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle, time and places separated by years and decades of a lost love. Lost in every sense of the world.

London

he British Cartographic Society c/o Royal Geographical Society 1 Kensington Gore London SW7 2AR Could this be where Abby works?  Egerton Crescent - where Victoria lives Highgate Cemetery - Rosamund lives close to here Waterloo Bridge Waterloo Bridge - an iconic spot in Rosamund and Dominic’s story Kew Gardens - Elliot gives Abby a tour around here http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens
The British Cartographic Society
c/o Royal Geographical Society
1 Kensington Gore
Could this be where Abby works?
Egerton Crescent – where Victoria lives
Highgate Cemetery – Rosamund lives close to here
Waterloo Bridge – an iconic spot in Rosamund and Dominic’s story
Kew Gardens – Elliot gives Abby a tour around here
http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens

The story of the photograph first comes to light in the vaults of the Royal Cartography Institute where it is featured in an exhibition and christened ‘The Last Kiss Goodbye’.

This is the London where Dominic and Rosamund start their love affair. From Waterloo Bridge, to the parties of Eaton Square, their London is one of a whirlwind love affair

The world is changing, women are fighting for their rights and for what they deserve, sexual liberation is being mixed up faster than the cocktails in the swinging jazz clubs.

St Petersburg

“Back in the sixties, most of the Russian newspapers were state controlled”

These were dangerous times for the world is changing on the international stage too. The Cold War is in full swing and the murky world of espionage and diplomatic manoeuvres is a a world that is not as far away as young, free couples might imagine. Abby’s research soon takes her into the dark world of the KGB and Soviet spies for Dominic was an influential man who hob-nobed in his job as editor of Capital magazine. This world however is one which evokes the secrecy, uncertainty and duality of the times.

“The Russians wanted us to believe that there were traitors in every sector of our ruling elite. They wanted to destabilise us”

Paris

The sixties were just as swinging in Paris as they were elsewhere. Rosamund and Dominic spend time here with each other enjoying each other as well as the city’s literary heritage with visits to Les Deux Magots where Sartre and his contemporaries would sit and talk. The world here is an exciting one on the edge of something big. Times are a changing and the memories created here are some that Rosamund will savour for years to come.

The  Amazon

However three such disparate and seemingly unconnected locations link up a story that twists and turns with one photo at its centre. Dominic, lost on an expedition to the far flung Amazon jungle with its humidity, the pitiless sun coupled with the biblical downpours.

Lost and never found, his whereabouts a ghostly imprint. Abby, assisted by Rosamund search for what went so terribly wrong all those years and miles away.

Bookish musings

What a  story! From one photo I was transported not just via locations but through many different emotions as I followed Dominic’s and Rosamund’s story with anticipation. Going back to the 1960s with a story of love and subterfuge was an exciting literary journey and the contrast of the troubled times with the Cold war in the background was a fascinating insight into the period.

I loved Dominic’s and Rosamund’s story, the challenges they faced, the struggles they had to endure and the cloud of suspicion that has hung over both of them ever since. What did happen to Dominic in that jungle? I was dying to find out. Having Rosamund help Abby in the present day was a great way to discover things together with the characters.

The love story is at the centre of course but what a twisting and turning story of hope, secrets and a changing world. So many contrasts which fitted so well together. And it all started with one frozen moment captured on film. A shocking secret buried in time is revealed and the journey  to find it is one of the most fascinating I’ve been on in a long while.

The Milliner’s Secret – London and Paris – WW2 – Natalie Meg Evans

Milliner

Why a booktrail?

Natalie Meg Evans has transported us to Paris of haute couture with The Dress Thief, now she takes us to the dark days of the occupation in Paris through the eyes of a young milliner…A milliner with a secret…

Story in a hatbox…

What cost the price of fame?

Cora Masson is a young, poor and  disenchanted young girl working in London. Her life is not a happy one for various reasons and one day is given an opportunity to change her life. She dreams of becoming someone and making something of herself.  A dressmaker to the elite. So she changes her name to Coralie de Lirac, moves to Paris and invents a past to push her to the front of the chicest Parisian circles. She lives with her German lover whose influence gets her noticed.

Working as a Milliner, she becomes a success but then German soldiers invade the city. War has arrived and life is going to change.

However, with such a mixed background, what is real and what isn’t and can Coralie survive the biggest challenge of her life?

The World of the Milliner….

Boulevard Raspail - Hotel de Lutetia One of the most iconic hotels on the Left bank (due to reopen 2017) and where Coralie goes. This is a lush hotel where the signs of Nazism can be seen in the novel. Boulevard de la Madeleine Where the Passierinette is located Rue de Vaugirard Dietrich’s flat is here Rue de Seine Where Coralie lives Boulevard Haussmann  where the posh department stores are such as Printemps
Boulevard Raspail – Hotel de Lutetia
One of the most iconic hotels on the Left bank (due to reopen 2017) and where Coralie goes. This is a lush hotel where the signs of Nazism can be seen in the novel.
Boulevard de la Madeleine
Where the Passierinette is located
Rue de Vaugirard
Dietrich’s flat is here
Rue de Seine
Where Coralie lives
Boulevard Haussmann
where the posh department stores are such as Printemps

The World of Paris fashion is both a sumptuous and difficult place to be. At first Coralie’s world is one filled with love, expectation, fashion and new hats. Her German lover Dietrich takes her the famous milliners La Passierinette on Boulevard de la Madeleine for the first time, a hat emporium that will be the focus of her life in Paris –

She studied the shop, likening tis pink walls and the overblown chandeliers that cast reflections on the hats in the window.

Grey and pink hatboxes caught her eye

The shop opens Coralie’s eyes to Parisian life and to the secret life of Dietrich. There is something about the shop, the hats and the women who work there that entices and frightens her. She is a frightened gazelle in a new world that she is determined to conquer.

This is the world of the French Expo, so the city is abuzz with new fashions, new faces and a new sense of excitement. At the same time the Nazis are encroaching on the city – even the German pavillion is floodlit with an eagle dominating its roof. Coralie’s sense of wonderment is tempered with the knowledge that her secret identity could be unmasked at any time.

The city is changing and fast. Coralie’s determination gets her a job at Henriette Junot’s milliners shop catapults her into the fashion milieu of the city of lights. Women clamour for her designs and style but her facade feels as fragile as the delicate butterflies which adorn the hats.

When the war comes, alliances and friendships start to unravel like the silken threads of the milliner’s hand.

Friendship was dangerous and human sympathy was rationed.

War is like the ultimate veil which descends dangerously on the city, and identities become blurred and something to dress over rather than display proudly. Coralie’s work continues but the war takes her friends, changes her life and questions her reasons for being there.

Coralie’s Paris turns into a network of shadowy alliances, dark corners, shady characters. Hitler has plans for the Jews of the city, whilst others have plans to stop his torment. Life in the Resistance becomes increasingly possible but Cora/Coralie is trapped not only in Paris but between her conscience and reality. In the lush hotel Lutetia in Boulevard Raspail –

In the marble foyer, icons of Nazism were everywhere, superimposed on the lush decor

Paris now is caught between two worlds, just like Coralie and her  dreams. Friends disappear and Coralie is all alone.

Bookish musings – Susan

A sumptuous world of hats, milliners secrets, styles and a woman trying to find her way in a dangerous world.

Cora/Coralie is living a dangerous life. She escapes one world to enter another but the war shows her the fripperies of life can be dangerous. Oh and the trouble she had masking her identity almost getting caught several times!

The thrill of being in Paris fashion circles (mentions of characters of the author’s first book The Dress Thief really added to the atmosphere of this very real world) only to find war encroaching on every aspect of life was fascinating and Coralie ran into danger so often it was scary. The way she coped with Dietrich, their shady friends, friends going missing, violence and scare tactics made her grow as a character and what I at first thought was going to be a romance in war time Paris was soon a great deal more.

The deportation of Jews contrasted with the Paris elite’s need for a fine hat and it was this which really evoked the irony of war. Not being allowed to wear the colours of the Marsellaise, or speak freely was vividly portrayed as Coralie learned to find her way in the dark.

From start to finish, an enthralling and captivating tale of war time Paris. The risk and then reality of your friends going missing must have been horrendous and Coralie was tenacious and determined. I’d already read and loved The Dress Thief so to see these characters mentioned and have them involved in the plot really added to the overall sense of being involved and immersed in their world.

So many issues in this book that I think it needs a sequel  – I’ve not seen Paris painted like this before. Fascinating.

The Book of Lost and Found – Paris- London- Corsica – Lucy Foley

lost and found

Why a booktrail?

From Cornwall to London, Paris and Corsica in the 1920s where the a love story spans the decades and the ages until war changes everything

Story in a nutshell

London 1986

Kate starts to sort through her grandmother’s belongings  when she finds a painting of a woman Celia, drawn by the famous artist Thomas Stafford. Wanting to know more, she starts to look into her family’s past. She’s always known she was adopted but the search takes her down roads and via stories she never could have imagined

Paris 1939

Alice Everly and Thomas Stafford meet again after having met in 1913 Cornwall and meet over the years as war tries to intervene once again. Tom is now a world-famous artist, Alice is a different person too. Can they rekindle what they once had and what they once dreamed of?

Place and setting

*Silk street where she works in a solicitors office *Upper street Where Alice lives *Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House Piccadilly Mayfair, London Kate goes to see Stafford here *Claridge's Brook St - http://www.claridges.co.uk/ A special meeting takes place here Paris PARIS Rue de seine An address of note in the city Gare du Lyon She arrives here with Oliver Ile de Cite Where he and Kate walk one evening after supper on the way back to the apartment
*Silk street
where she works in a solicitors office
*Upper street
Where Alice lives
*Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House
Piccadilly
Mayfair, London
Kate goes to see Stafford here
*Claridge’s
Brook St
http://www.claridges.co.uk/
A special meeting takes place here

PARIS
Rue de seine
An address of note in the city
Gare du Lyon
She arrives here with Oliver
Ile de Cite
Where he and Kate walk one evening after supper on the way back to the apartment

Two interweaving love stories take you on a journey from Cornwall to London, Paris to Corsica as the trails of life and love interweave across the decades.

London

Kate Darling finds a painting of a mysterious woman called Celia. Who this woman is and wanting to know more of her mother June’s past, who was a famous ballerina, she sets off on a trail of discovery. Evie, the grandmother who gives her the painting is hiding many secrets. Her trail follows that of Alice and Tom many years before her as she experiences their story too.

Cornwall and Paris

Meeting for the first time when on holiday in Winnard Cove, Cornwall, Tom and Alice are from different sides of the track – Alice is almost of aristocratic stock while Tom is middle class.

Love knows no boundaries however and the two fall in love. War intervenes and they meet again years later at a house party. The world is changing around them

From this party, Alice’s story unfolds as she travels across Europe during one of the most dangerous times in history. The year is 1938 and war is everywhere. Small details show how people saw the occupation –

And it is strange because the German soldiers don’t look like men of war. Most of them look like boys, sunburnt and flushed with excitement.

Corsica

Corsica *Bonifacio Kate explores the old town looking for secrets. She has dinner here with someone. The St Marie Majeure de Bonifacio Church is here *Bonifacio harbour The couple go on a boat to see the famous ‘ Grain du sable’ out at sea *Église Saint-Dominique de Bonifacio La citadelle A church in the old town where Kate explores with Oliver. Escalier du Roi d'Aragon The city is one of fantasy for Kate, built on rock and fortress like
Corsica
*Bonifacio
Kate explores the old town looking for secrets. She has dinner here with someone. The St Marie Majeure de Bonifacio Church is here
*Bonifacio harbour
The couple go on a boat to see the famous ‘ Grain du sable’ out at sea
*Église Saint-Dominique de Bonifacio
La citadelle
A church in the old town where Kate explores with Oliver.
Escalier du Roi d’Aragon
The city is one of fantasy for Kate, built on rock and fortress like

Artist Tom is now an elderly man living on the island of Corsica and when Kate visits him, he tells the tale of a beautiful yet bitter sweet love story which takes them back to England and then Paris during the war and the time of occupation

Corsica is evoked with passion –

“The heat was heavy, tangible and the air shimmered above the dry earth..”

“Corsica is sun and dirt and herbs”

Three  main time periods, each explores the life and lifestyle of the times,

how people acted and made decisions during times such as war. How one decision made one day could have an effect on the future.

What things are lost and which are found…..a story of life itself.

Booktrail review – Susan

Totally and utterly loved this book.  A story which takes  you from the present day to the past and back again. The mystery of a painting found after so many years. And a link to an old Corsican house where secrets unfold and the past slowly comes to light…

I love a good story with a secret which unravels across time and place but this one took on so many emotions such as heartache, regret, nostalgia and sacrifice that I was absolutely engrossed. Kate was an interesting character and I felt I was right beside her every step of the way as she searched for the truth. My heart was in my mouth if I’m honest as I wasn’t sure what she was going to find.

Oh the locations were evocative and mesmerizing – like a treasure trail as one clue led to another. Corsica was a magical place and ideal for the denouement of this story with the history and emotions it involved. I can‘t say much more without giving a clue to the plot but to read this and see it revealed is a joy that I don’t want to spoil for anyone.

Oh and Tom! The story of Alice -the roaring twenties!  I need this to be a film. Right now. That’s how it played out in my mind’s eye after all. I’m still dancing to the music which played in my head.

Sumptuous and delectable in every way.

The Nightingale – Loire Valley and Paris – France – Kristin Hannah

the-nightingale-978144728307201

Why a booktrail?

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

Story in a nutshell

FRANCE, 1939

In a quiet French village, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. There’s talk of Germany trying to invade France but no one thinks that will happen. When the nightmare becomes reality, Vianne is forced to cooperate with an enemy whilst her husband is away, in their clutches.

Vianne is now in great danger for the enemy watches, waits and takes over her house and life.

Meanwhile, Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, a rebellious 18 year old falls in love with a French man. But Isabelle finds herself betrayed and so joins forces with the resistance but this is a grave and dangerous place for a young girl to be.

Two sisters in wartime and a women’s view of unfolding events

Place and setting

Just some of the locations featured in this remarkable tale of war time France
Just some of the locations featured in this remarkable tale of war time France. Touraine is in the Loire Valley where Carriveau is located in the novel

Loire Valley and Paris

On this beautiful summer morning in the Loire Valley, everything was in bloom. White sheets flapped in the breeze and roses stumbled tumbled like laughter along the ancient stone wall that hid their property from the road

The idyllic village of Carriveau, nestled somewhere in the Loire Valley. Such a picture so far removed from the horrors of war, you can’t imagine. But this is the setting for an invasion, of a country, of a life and one woman’s home as the Nazis invade and stay. The war progresses and the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes ever more blurred. Neighbours, friends, family -all suspect each other and all are in grave danger.

Children in war time are forced to grow up quickly – when Viane tries to explain that Sarah has ‘died’, Sophie immediately calls her on it – she’s Jewish she replies.

Vianne hated what she saw in her daughter’s eyes right now. There was nothing young in her gaze – no innocence, no naivete, no hope”

All the time, her husband is away, she is alone and abandoned with a Nazi soldier and the war she thinks is far away comes right up to her doorstep and causes divisions in communities which last a lifetime.

Paris

The apartment on the Avenue de La Bourdonnais The Velodrime D'hiver was where the Bir Hakim metro station is today and a plaque can be seen marking the horrific spot where Jews were rounded up Tuileries Garden Where the Nazis stroll as if nothing is wrong Boulevard Saint German and the corner of Rue de Saint Simon -where Isabelle meets someone important
The apartment on the Avenue de La Bourdonnais
The Velodrome D’hiver was where the Bir Hakim metro station is today and a plaque can be seen marking the horrific spot where Jews were rounded up
Tuileries 
Where the Nazis stroll as if nothing is wrong
Boulevard Saint German and the corner of Rue de Saint Simon -where Isabelle meets someone important

Isabelle

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Isabelle. Paris is overrun. The Nazis control the city. What is an eighteen-year-old girl to do about all of that?”

Isabelle meanwhile is a polar opposite from her sister and joins the resistance to fight the Nazis in her own way. She is young and care free, full of energy and reckless. But this vibrant energy takes her from Paris and into the resistance movement  where her life spirals into a major challenge of war time France and survival.

Where Isabelle is an active player and Vianne a ordinary civilian in an innocent town, these two women show how difficult, horrific, brutal and devastating war was on the women forced to survive in any way they could.

Whether it’s the countryside or the busy centre of Paris, the war afflicts both and devastates everything in its path.

The book is actually inspired by the real life figure of Andree de Jongh who founded and organized the Comet Escape line through Belgium and France to Spain http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1566506/Andree-de-Jongh.html

Bookish musings

Be prepared to weep when you read this book. What these women went through, what they suffered, what they saw. The brutality of it all and the unfairness of their situation – grabs you by the throat and never lets you go.

What the novel excels at is the stark portrayal of the decisions these women faced on a daily basis. Imagine having a Nazi soldier take over your home? Your children starving because of the rations, the inability to do and go where you want? The fear and the not knowing.. The Nazis do everything to break the spirit of the French people and the death camps are in full operation…These scenes are amongst the most heartbreaking I’ve ever read.

The relationship between the two sisters changes throughout the novel and the story of each one – how they came to be where they are and how they deal with their ‘ lot’ in life was fascinating and so well written. Decisions in wartime are unlike any other and these two very different personalities really gave a full and heartbreaking picture.

I can not recommend this book enough – for the sheer scope and heart wrenching pull of the story. You are right in Vianne’s house and alongside Isabelle every step of the way and it’s a poignant and emotional journey.

The strength of these characters – of women in wartime as a whole – is a remarkable angle from which to write a novel. This book pays homage to them and then some. Vianne and Isabelle show unbelievable strength and courage.

Stunning and whole heartedly recommended. Tissues should come with each copy however to save the pages getting a soaking.

And when you read the book you’ll know – The Nightingale has definitely sung.

Italy, Maranello, France, Switzerland – From Italy with Love – Jules Wake

Italy with love

Why a booktrail?

A woman is left a Ferrari in her uncle’s will, but to earn it, she must take it on an journey across France, Switzerland and Italy and send postcards from various places. Sounds like fun to us!

Story in a nutshell

Laurie loves comfort and home life- she works in a library, has a reliable boyfriend and thinks she’s happy. But when she’s offered the chance of a Ferrari and has to undertake a road journey across Europe to get it, she is somewhat nervous.

Her uncle Miles was known as an eccentric but what he is proposing – this drive across Europe with the gorgeous but unreliable Cameron Matthews as her guide… seems to be the maddest idea of all.

Cam is there for the ride in more ways than one – he’s got his eye on the flashy car and is prepared to do al he can to get it. It should be easy – he’s the guide after all.

But Uncle Miles is really the one in the driving seat – for the route is a special one and they’re about to see just what twists, turns and bumps he has planned along the way

Place and setting

France - Honfleur -http://en.ot-honfleur.fr/discover-honfleur/heritage/the-old-dock/ The old port is one of the prettiest parts of the town. Laurie is fascinated as they arrive here. Loire Valley They visit Chateau de la Mioroir in the book which is fictional but this one is one of our favourites and one of the most impressive in the area - http://www.chenonceau.com/ Bormio Town close to the Stelvio Pass area. A small medieval town and surrounded by mountains Lake Garda - Riva del Garda There was no doubt about it. Riva del Garda had to be one of the prettiest spots in Europe Maranello Home of the Ferrair and destination of Laurie and Cam’s journeyhttp://museomaranello.ferrari.com/prices-and-tickets/
France – Honfleur http://en.ot-honfleur.fr/discover-honfleur/heritage/the-old-dock/
The old port is one of the prettiest parts of the town. Laurie is fascinated as they arrive here.
Loire Valley
They visit Chateau de la Miroir in the book which is fictional but this one is one of our favourites and one of the most impressive in the area – http://www.chenonceau.com/
Bormio
Town close to the Stelvio Pass area. A small medieval town and surrounded by mountains
Lake Garda – Riva del Garda
There was no doubt about it. Riva del Garda had to be one of the prettiest spots in Europe
Maranello
Home of the Ferrari and destination of Laurie and Cam’s journey  http://museomaranello.ferrari.com/prices-and-tickets/

A trail in a car leaving from the channel tunnel and then going all the way across France, Switzerland and finally to Italy seems like a great way to travel.

Having a preplanned journey with the task of sending a postcard from each one sounds like fun and they’re soon off travelling but at first the journey is not an easy one – with two such very different personalities in the car, the ride is bumpy from the start.

This is a journey with a difference and there are many surprises along the way – think road trip mixed with a treasure hunt of sorts and a few candid camera moments and your picture is almost complete. Laurie and Cam change quite a lot from the beginning and Laurie especially, as she gets further away from her home in Leighton Buzzard and her old life.

From the Channel tunnel, they head to Honfleur , Le Mans, Orleans and to the delights of the Loire Valley and the stunning castles there. Then off to Chaumont, Bresancon, Basle, Zurich, Monstein, Bormio and Maranello

But the real challenge is the Stelvio Pass – the journey from Switzerland to Italy and all the way to the home of Formula One – Maranello

For all car enthusiasts, this will cause extreme envy – visiting Bormio and Maranello. In a Ferrari!

No spoilers as to what happens to the car and those in it, but it’s been a rip roaring ride of surprises and romance set against a real life adventure trail and pilgrimage for Ferrari fans everywhere.

Bookish musings

Well that was an interesting journey! I could feel the wind in my hair, the roar of the engine and the scenery of various countries and places whizzing by. Such a fun ride and as many twists and turns both in the story and on the road. Never been in a Ferrari but I really want to go in a real one now!

The idea that your uncle had only left you a Ferrari if you drove it half way across Europe appealed to me. Knowing nothing about the world of Ferraris. I now know a little of that buzz world and the places people go on car pilgrimages. Quite an eye opener!

All in all a fun ride and a charming story. It’s a romantic comedy and there were more than one Bridget Jones moment with Laurie! She’d be great to travel with. Laughs all the way.

A fun read with an amazing backdrop across Europe!

The Snow Kimono – Japan, Paris, Algeria – Mark Henshaw

snow book

Why a booktrail?

There is a saying in Japan that if you want to see your life you have to see it through the eyes of another….

Story in a nutshell 

A retired police officer August Jouvert living in Paris comes across a Japanese professor standing outside his appartment one day. And what the Japanese man tells him could change his life forever…

Auguste has just received a letter from a woman claiming to be his daughter. Now this mysterious  Japanese man starts to tell him the story of his own lost daughter

If you want to see your life you have to see it through the eyes of another goes the saying in Japan. But then what happens if you don’t like what you see?

Place and setting

 PARIS - Rue St Antoine Auguste Jouvert lives here and where he first meets the Japanese stranger PARIS  - 36 Quai des Orfevres Where the police staton is where Jouvert used to work JAPAN - Kamakura Where the kite festival takes place ALGERIA - Setif Omura goes here and  it’s where Jouvert’s daughter lives - in Algiers JAPAN -Tokyo and the Imperial University of Japan Omura once worked here Osaka Omura lives and where they get off the metro in Togetsu

PARIS – Rue St Antoine
Auguste Jouvert lives here and where he first meets the Japanese stranger
PARIS – 36 Quai des Orfevres
Where the police staton is where Jouvert used to work
JAPAN – Kamakura
Where the kite festival takes place
ALGERIA – Setif
Omura goes here and it’s where Jouvert’s daughter lives – in Algiers
JAPAN -Tokyo and the Imperial University of Japan
Omura once worked here
Osaka
Omura lives and where they get off the metro in Togetsu

The setting is several things in this book – both the actual settings of Japan, Paris and Algiers but also the deep recesses of the human mind and the human conscience –

Memory is a savage editor. It cuts time’s throat

Paris

Where the mystery begins and where Auguste received his letter and meets the Japanese professor. A snowy city on the Rue St Antoine where Auguste lives close to the Bastille. Belleville is the Algerian part of town not far away from his home and his mind. For his past is about to confront him on his own doorstep –

“The street lamps were lit. Rain still fell in a thin mist. The roads shone. To anybody else it would have been obvious – accidents hovered like hawks in the air”

Japan

Japan shows up two characters – one a respected professor and the other a party boy who only thinks of himself and disregards women as nothing more than conquests. The second a novelist called Katsuo Ikeda uses people to further his career. Remember the Japanese saying?

”Look at people, Tadashi. Just watch them. If you want power over people, you have to get inside them, find out what they are afraid of. Be them. It’s the only way.”

Omura is the wise man in the tale who speaks of life as being similar to a traditional Japanese jigsaw puzzle

“Some pieces are small, others large, but all are calculated to deceive, to lead one astray, in order to make the puzzle as difficult, as challenging, as possible. In our tradition, how a puzzle is made, and how it is solved, reveals some greater truth about the world”.

The Japanese setting represents wisdom, forgiveness and closure. The descriptive prose is oriental and flowing –

The events of the day jostle in her head. They settle for a moment. Then, like a flock of birds at dusk, they take to the air, whirling round and round in the sky above her”

And what of the Snow Kimono of the title? Made and sold in Osaka, its threads weave throughout the story. The Kite festival  in Kamakura is both uplifting and evocative of the joy and innocence which once existed

Algiers

The story strand which links the two man – for Auguste worked in Algiers and led a double life as an undercover government officer. His secret past comes to light and he has much to hide. During the country’s war of independence, there was a lot of pain and a sense of abandonment –

It is here where the labyrinth of Algiers’ alleyways evoke the puzzle theme of the book and the confusion of Jouvert’s mind. Logic is not present here and he struggles with both the backdrop and the ethical dilemma which he now finds himself in.

A story of many strands

The Dressmaker of Dachau – London, Paris, Belgium, Dachau – Mary Chamberlain

Dachaubook

Why a booktrail?

A young woman’s attempt to survive despite the ultimate betrayal and the onset of war. Her skills as a dressmaker will have unexpected consequences..

Story in a nutshell

London,1939.

Eighteen-year-old Ada Vaughan has just started work for a modiste in Dover Street. She would love a career in couture but first needs to escape the dreariness of family life in Lambeth.

When she meets a man called Stanislaus von Lieben, she is catapulted into a world of glamour and romance. So, when he suggests a trip to Paris, despite the rumblings of war, she overlooks all possible dangers to take a chance.

When war is declared, both she and Stanislaus are trapped in France.

But then she is cruelly betrayed and her world falls apart. These are not easy times for anyone but when Ada is taken prisoner, it will take her ultimate resolve and skills as a dressmaker to try and survive in the best way she can.

Place and setting

London Ada first lives at Theed Street Dover Street  This is where she works as a seamstress of sorts Paris Arrives at Gare due Nord on her arrival and then she moves with Stanislaus to  Boulevard Barbès Belgium They escape to Mons and then Namur  Dachau Where Ada is taken to and she ends up working and becoming the Dressmaker of Dachau
London
Ada first lives at Theed Street
Dover Street
This is where she works as a seamstress and ‘modiste’
Paris
Arrives at Gare due Nord on her arrival and then she moves with Stanislaus to Boulevard Barbès
Belgium
They escape to Mons and then Namur
Dachau
Where Ada is taken to and she ends up working and becoming the Dressmaker of Dachau

Written against a real historical background of the outbreak of war in Europe, this is a tale of one woman’s resilience despite tragedy.

Ada leads a sad and uneventful life in Lambeth, London  and so wants to escape her life. Ada became her designs, a walking advertisement for them. Working for the modiste in Dover street, the craves the life she feels she can’t have. She might feel  out of her depth in the Savoy and the Ritz where the young ladies who buy the clothes she models and then makes, but this is the life she desires.

She conjured Hollywood and the glamourous world of the stars and brought them into the drawing rooms of the everyday.

Stanislaus is a breath of fresh air amongst the  otherwise stiff fabric of her life.They go to Richmond Park and  eat chestnuts on a cold winters day, and drink ginger beer. But then he tells her ‘You belong in Paris, I can see you there, sashaying down the boulevards turning heads’.

Paris

From Charing Cross, she crosses over the continent and arrives at the teaming Gare Du Nord which is full of ‘sweating turmoil’ . Still unsure of Stanislaus and the future, this is still a way out of her life and a way ahead.

However, when Hitler invades Poland, everything changes. They move appartments in Paris and end up on the Rue Barbes. Stockpiles of sand bags line the streets and the ‘stale onion of fear’ permeates the Paris air. They flee to Mons in Belgium and then Namur before tragedy strikes….

Dachau

Alone and afraid, Ada ends up in Dachau and works, quite literarily to save her life. “They call you the Dressmaker of Dachau’ says one German guard. She is used and abused but yet her spirit never dies. It is the next stage of her journey where she will find out her fate and if she will ever hear of Stanislaus again.

Bookish musings 

A book which was both fascinating and allowed the tension and the horror of Dachau to build with the interesting build up and back story of Ada and Stanislaus and their flight across Europe.

Having got to know Ada quite well, (Stanislaus was more of an enigma for reasons which become clear in the story), I felt as if I went with her on her journey despite wanting to whisper in her ear and check if she knew what she was doing!

Dachau is a major setting in the book but it is also the culmination of Ada’s journey across several countries during war time and her journey as  a woman with a skill and desire to sew.

To use a sewing analogy, lots of threads come together and weave a tale of heartache and shocking twists! And I won’t reveal what happens to Stanislaus but…..

An enticing read and a insight into Dachau and how one woman with a skill for sewing could survive there.