“Writers build places. Sometimes they conjure make-believe realms, unfettered by rules of sense or science. But sometimes they evoke real ones-destinations you can find on a map. And sometimes they manage to make those real places feel more real than any photo ever could”.
If you are a book lover then you must know and will have surely experienced the delight on travelling on the armchair, or wherever you sit to read. Writers can take us to the farthest places of the world in any time period they like and give us a sense of being in that place. The concept of literary places is indeed appealing to readers.
Literary Places by Sarah Baxter takes readers on a literary tour across the world. Good literature can help you traverse not only physical locations but also travel across time. The format of the book makes it accessible. Each chapter begins with a different place. There is a little snippet right at the beginning which tells the reader about which novel has evoked the place, as well as a little bit about the place itself.
In the book, we travel across time in Paris, during the era of the setting of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. The book paints a picture of what part of ‘that’ Paris is lost today and what still remains.
There were some places that I could immediately recognize because I had been there, such as Florence. But, I instantly wanted to reexperience the memories of this wonderful city through the book “A Room with A View” by EM Foster, thanks to this book. Being familiar with London, I could understand when the author spoke about seeing the city through “Oliver Twist”. The remark that “many a corner still conjures up the past” seems true of London even today, as does Dickens’ entire description of horrors on the lives of the margin.
And then there were places I had not visited and books that spoke of those, that I had not read. But, the descriptions made me want to undertake the literary and the physical journey. For instance, I desired to devour Cairo’s labyrinth of mosques, souks and secret, and also relive them by reading Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz.
And then, there were places I had read about in other books, and I longed to see how still other books of fiction would do justice to these. I have not read Burger’s Daughter by Nadine Gordimer. But, it talks about Soweto, and I have read another book on the struggle in this township. I have read Arushi Raina’s, When Morning Comes, and the Soweto therein, makes me feel familiar with the Soweto described in Literary Places.
Think of “Literary Places” as a literary tour guide. You can hold it in your hand (or kindle!) and actually trace the paths of the authors and characters of yesteryears. You can see for yourself what has remained and what has changed. You can feel the pulse of the place beating in the book or can sense if the passage of time has dimmed the flavours. Let it become a journey of sorts- a journey within as much as it is a journey without.
Literary Places by Sarah Baxter takes the reader on a journey to 25 different places through 25 different novels. To add to the experience, there are some truly breath-taking illustrations.
Title: Literary Places
Author: Sarah Baxter
Illustrator: Amy Grimes
Publisher: White Lion Publishing