|The French Riviera|
I think it all began with The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. This was the first book to really let me experience a setting so fully. When I closed the book after reading the last page, I'd been to Cornwall. I'd walked the windswept beaches and felt the sea spray on my face. And it's the reason Devon and Cornwall have made it onto my Bucket List.
Here are a few more of my favorites. Many of them are still on my shelf, waiting for a second read.
A Year in Provence / Peter Mayle
Some credit (or blame) Mayle's most famous book with popularizing the region with the masses. It was the basis for the film A Good Year starring Russell Crowe and was followed by Toujours Provence and Encore Provence, as well as several fictional works also set in the south of France: Hotel Pastis, Anything Considered, Chasing Cézanne and The Vintage Caper.
The Olive Farm, The Olive Season & The Olive Harvest /
This series of books by British actress Carol Drinkwater describes the joys and challenges of running an olive farm in Provence.
|Olive Grove in Provence|
Luncheon of the Boating Party / Susan Vreeland
Experience life in 19th century Paris with Auguste Renoire and his contemporaries as Impressionism is born.
Love, intrigue and sumptuous food on the glamorous French Riviera.
The Lantern / Deborah Lawrenson
This lush, moody depiction of Provence has been compared to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (which is still in my to-be-read pile).
Nights of Rain and Stars / Maeve Binchy
A departure from Binchy's other books set in Ireland, this novel takes place on a small island in the Cyclades.
The Holiday / Erica James
A sun-drenched, seaside vacation on the island of Corfu.
The Mask of Atreus / A. J. Hartley
A thriller mixed with Greek history and archaeology.
The Island / Victoria Hislop
A novel about the Spinalonga leper colony off of Crete and its effects on multiple generations of a Greek family.
Breathing Room / Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Mouth-watering descriptions of the food and landscapes of Tuscany.
The Sidewalk Artist / Gina Buonaguro & Janice Kirk
A blend of contemporary and historical fiction through the great art capitals of the Renaissance in Italy.
I Love Capri / Belinda Jones
A romantic escape to the legendary island of Capri.
|The Isle of Capri, Italy|
The House in Amalfi / Elizabeth Adler
This book introduced me to the spectacular Amalfi Coast and prompted my visit to nearby Sorrento.
Angels and Demons / Dan Brown
This fast-paced thriller races through some of Rome's top sights, such as St. Peter's Square, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.
I most recently finished reading Bella Fortuna by Rosanna Chiofalo. One of the reasons why I love armchair traveller fiction is the opportunity to relive my own visits to these places. Her vivid descriptions of Venice took me back to La Serenissima: the milky green waters in the canals, the pastel hues of the crumbling walls, and the bustle of Piazza San Marco.
The second reason is to learn more about the places I haven't yet seen or plan to revisit. So I further appreciate her novel for the discovery of a festival that I hope to experience on a return visit to Venice, the Festa del Redentore. This annual festival held in July first celebrated the city's survival of a terrible plague in 1577. Today it features gondola races and a huge fireworks display. Sounds like a lot of fun!
I look forward to her next book, Carissima, which takes place in Rome and comes out in August 2013.
Happily, more fiction for armchair travellers continues to be published. Here are some of the other books on my reading list:
The Gilder / Kathryn Kay (Florence)
Tuscan Holiday / Holly Chamberlin (Tuscany)
The Chocolate Thief, The Chocolate Kiss and The Chocolate Touch/ Laura Florand (Paris)
Three Months in Florence / Mary Carter (Florence)
Wedding Night / Sophie Kinsella (Greece)
Inferno / Dan Brown (Italy)
NEW ON PINTEREST:
Books for Armchair Travellers
Movies for Armchair Travellers
What are your favorite books set in France, Greece or Italy?