Books have the phenomenal power to make us instantly travel to a distant or close land, which can be either real or imaginary, every time we immerse ourselves in the pages. Sometimes the desire to travel lingers after we get to the end of the book and the story is over. The wish to visit a different place may stem from wanting to know in real life the location where the story was set in or to discover the city or country the author has grown and lived in.
After finishing both The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton and The Tales of Hans Christian Andresen by the Danish author and illustrated by Joel Stewart, I added Amsterdam and Copenhagen to the list of places I wish to visit in the future. Well, to be honest I already wanted to go to Amsterdam before I read The Miniaturist, but Jessie Burton’s powerful descriptions reinforced that desire even more.
Amsterdam is where 18-year-old and recently wed Petronella Oortman comes to live with her husband, Johannes Brandt, who offers her a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish it, she employs a mysterious miniaturist whom she desires to discover. So, she walks through the streets of Amsterdam and along the canals, which become frozen during the winter. As soon as I finished the book, I really wanted to get on a plane, stroll through the streets of Amsterdam myself, and sail the canals, flanked by the typically narrow but high buildings.
Another place worth a visit for those who have read The Miniaturist is the Rijksmuseum. This is where is located the cabinet’s house of the real Petronella Oortnam which served as inspiration for the novel. Although there really was a person with the same name as the book’s character, the story itself is entirely fictional, exception made for the historical background. The Rijksmuseum is the place to go if you are interested in Dutch art and history.
The Tales of Hans Christian Andresen, a Walker Books edition, is a collection of fairy tales by the renowned Danish author that features The Princess and the Pea, The Tinderbox, Thumbelina, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Wild Swans, The Flying Trunk, The Ugly Duckling, The Nightingale, The Snow Queen, The Little Match Girl and The Goblin at the Grocer’s.
The Little Mermaid is my favourite Disney film, but I had never read the Andresen’s fairy tale before. So, I was quite surprised at how different, darker and sadder it really is in comparison with the film. When I finally get to go to Copenhagen, I definitely have to go see the Little Mermaid statue and give it a hug. But there are other places worth a visit for those who are interested in the life of Hans Christian Andresen. He used to visit the library of the Round Tower looking for inspiration and has a statue at the King’s Garden.
I am sure there will be more books that will make me want to travel and visit places that I haven’t been to yet. Thus, expect more posts like this in the future.