When choosing a new book, the setting of the story is not, by any means, my primary concern. However, with the passing of the years, I’ve come to realise that there are certain locations that tend to appeal to me. Generally speaking, I’m more interested in books that are set in cities than in those taking place in the countryside, for example, and am also keen on fictional locations. There are four book settings, some real and others fictional, that I particularly love.
London has always been one of my favourite cities, strangely (or not) even before I ever visited. Thus, a book set there is bound to catch my attention. I love reading the descriptions of the city and recognising the names of the streets. I have read plenty of books solely or partially set in London, after all there are no shortage of them.
Saturday by Ian McEwan is not one of my favourite books, but the various mentions of the streets of London stood out to me. It takes place during one day in February 2003. A demonstration against the Iraq war makes the main character, Henry Perowne, muse on personal satisfaction, the meaning of his life and the protest itself.
Regardless of time period, a book being set in Lisbon is always a plus in my eyes, although it may not be enough to make me effusively like it. I usually find the descriptions of the oldest neighbourhoods entrancing, and reading about characters wandering around them gives me a peculiar sense of satisfaction. There are two books that immediately spring to mind when I think about Portugal’s capital.
In O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis) by José Saramago, the main character rents an apartment on the Santa Catarina street which has an amazing view of the river Tagus. Ricardo Reis arrives in Lisbon, after the death of his friend Fernando Pessoa, at the beginning of the Portuguese fascist regime. It features both realistic and supernatural elements.
The first book that made me love Lisbon as a setting, however, was Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queirós. It features a love story wrapped up in an astute novel of manners. Two intertwined plots – a main one focusing on the relationship between Carlos da Maia and Maria Eduarda, and a secondary one about Pedro da Maia and Maria Monforte – lead to a troublesome revelation. The characters spend some time walking around the Chiado area, for example.
Being a school of magic set in a castle, Hogwarts is not a large location in comparison with the others listed in this post. Nevertheless, it didn’t lack places for the action of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling to develop in. There are rooms and stairs that move around, a dense forest, greenhouses and a Quidditch pitch. What more can I say? After so many years, I’m still waiting for my letter.
The fictional continent of Westeros is located in the far west of the known world where the book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin takes place. It comprises the land beyond the wall and the seven kingdoms, which are actually nine regions – the North, the Iron Islands, the Riverlands, the Vale, the Westerlands, the Crownlands, the Reach, the Stormlands and Dorne. They all have specific characteristics and customs.
Each region has a lord protector, who serves the king sitting on the Iron Throne. At the beginning of the series that king is Robert Baratheon, who won a rebellion against the Targaryens years beforehand. The books are written from various points of view, revealing complex characters. The plot is gripping and full of political schemes.
Do you have any favourite book settings? Tell me in the comments!