Pink XII: Location, Location, Location

We’re heading toward the end of Pink XII, and Jane and Jack are still making tracks through Portugal.  They’ve actually covered pretty significant ground since the book began – starting in Lisbon and working their way through the countryside, the Monastery of Alcobaça, Caldas da Rainha, and Peniche.  Miss Eliza actually created a Google Map with the book’s locations marked so you can see Jane and Jack’s route.

Portugal map

If you want to visit the page for the Google map, click here.  You can drag the map around, zoom in, and get Google street views of what these locations look like these days.

I think Lauren’s ability to create a setting is one of the best things about Pink XII. For most of us, historical fiction set in England hardly feels foreign anymore.  We’ve read so many books set in that world that it feels just as familiar own.  Each book in the Pink series is unique in its own way, but I think some of my favorites are the books set in other countries – particularly The Betrayal of the Blood Lily in India and this book set in Portugal.

What is it about a new and different location that gives a book extra sparkle?  I read M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions and went through a two-year craze where I couldn’t get enough books about India.  I’m still not completely over it – there is something MAGIC about  India in that book.  My first experience with Tracy Grant’s writing was Vienna Waltz, which (clearly) is set in Vienna.  Tracy does an incredible job with setting in that book.  And even though it’s not really “exotic,” my favorite book for about ten years was Maeve Binchy’s Circle of Friends, set in Dublin and a fictional small Irish town called Knockglen.  Reading these books really feels like traveling.

What are your favorite books with a setting that isn’t US or GB?  What is it that you like most about these books?

28 thoughts on “Pink XII: Location, Location, Location

  1. “Airs Above the Ground” by Mary Stewart – I’ve wanted to go to Austria for years. After finishing Stewart’s “The Moonspinners” (Crete), “My Brother Michael” (Delphi), and “This Rough Magic” (Corfu), Greece hit the list too. And don’t forget about M. M. Kaye’s mysteries: “Death in…”: Zanzibar, Kenya, Kashmir, Berlin, Cyprus, the Andamans, (Ditto to “The Far Pavilions”, Ashley.) A book blessed with well-written descriptions of its locations intrigues me enough to want to visit those spots.

  2. I completely agree with you about ‘The Far Pavilions’. I became obsessed with any book/movie about India after reading that.
    Another author that does a great job with settings is Deanna Raybourn. Especially ‘Dark Road to Darjeeling'(India), ‘City of Jasmine and ‘Night of a Thousand Stars’ (Damascus).
    Oh, and I also love the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters which are set in Egypt.

  3. Agree with everything mentioned. However, the only M.M Kaye I’ve read is Death in Cyprus – very true to the country as I lived there about 20 years after the time period of this book. Am anxious to try her other books. Really enjoyed Lauren’s and Deanna’s India books.

    For Ireland, I love Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country Doctor series set in the small town of Balleybucklebo – they come complete with an Irish/Gaelic dictionary and recipes!

    I loved Susanna Kearsley’s books that ventured into Scotland and Russia.

    For medieval Scottish times, I have read Kathleen Morgan’s As High As the Heavens and Brenda Joyce’s A Rose in the Storm. She has a seqel to this that I am anxious to get to.

    Must also mention James Conroyd Martin’s Polish trilogy beginning with Push Not the River. My daughter just became enthralled with these.

    Thanks for these posts about books, Ashley. I just responded to your post about misunderstandings since I was away when you posted it. This is one of the things I always love about Lauren’s website!

  4. I really don’t have a specific book or books that I loved just for the location. So long as the location feels real and is part of the story I’m good.

    What is fun though is one year I did a “read around the world” challenge, and you started in your country and tried to read books set in every country you could. For expert level you had to read only books in countries connected, like US to Canada, etc. That is actually the first time I used google maps to map books…

  5. I was struck throughout Moonflower with the commonalities between its structure and Blood Lily’s- both are books set in a place other in England which use the challenges of eighteenth-century travel to challenge the hero and heroine’s knowledge and understanding of each other, as well as carving out their respective common grounds.

    I love all the Vicky Bliss books but Trojan Gold, set in Germany, is my favorite. The penultimate book in Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy series takes Betsy through Europe on the eve of WWI so she has the voyage from Boston to Italy, several weeks in Munich, several weeks in Venice, a day in Paris and several weeks in London (any other Betsy fans?)

  6. I love Venice! Especially The Rosetti Letter and Tasha Alexander’s Death in the Floating City (part of the Lady Emily series). Both do a great job of describing the canals and beautiful Venetian architecture of the time period.

  7. I love Prague as a book setting (particularly if it deals with Golems), and I have really enjoyed the books I’ve read set in 1920s Kenya (Ashford Affair and Deanna Rayborn’s Spear of Summer Grass). Lately I have been on a pre-WWII and WWII Paris (and France in general) reading kick, and have found that really intriguing.

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