Most evocative British setting?

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Most evocative British setting?

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apr 23, 2007, 8:57pm

What books have a really strong sense of place. I've just read Absent Light by Eve Isherwood which is based in Birmingham. I'd lived there many years ago and it really transported me back there.

apr 23, 2007, 9:00pm

As a native Glaswegian I would have to say, How Late It was, How Late by James Kelman.

apr 24, 2007, 12:37pm

It's not a place I've been, so it's not evocative to me in the sense of memory of that specific place, but in the sense of the moody foreboding I experienced while driving around the Brecon Beacons in Wales on a wet day - Bruce Chatwin's On the Black Hill.

Before I moved up to Northamptonshire, my stamping ground was Middlesex and Surrey, so Three Men in a Boat always amuses me and brings back strong memories of riverside pubs I have known and loved.

apr 24, 2007, 5:15pm

Married to a chap from north Staffordshire I'd have to say that the first few times I went up there (the Potteries or what Bennett calls the 'five towns') from London, I felt I already knew the place having read lots of Arnold Bennett's novels. This was in the early 60s when there were still pottery kilns, smoke and narrow provincialism.

As far as London's concerned, where I come from originally, it's non-fiction like that of Peter Ackroyd that so captures the essence of that teeming city.

apr 24, 2007, 5:44pm

Dickens' London is my favourite 'character' in his books. I read a lot of Dickens when I lived in the West Country: ironically, I'd read a lot of Hardy when I lived in London.

For me the most evocative sense of place is from the Hound of the Baskervilles - clearly the Moor is Dartmoor. Then it's the Kent marshes in Great Expectations (my childhood 'countryside') and a small coastal village in Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood. Then there's the moor in Wuthering Heights, which is so integral to the plot.

In non-fiction it's Henry Mayhew's Londoners' voices: they were the city, after all. I like Ackroyd because he writes with passion about London. I also like Colin McInnes' series of 'reportage' on the Jazz scene in the '50s; they're authentic in a way I haven't often seen.

apr 24, 2007, 9:44pm

I just finished re-reading Rebecca for the third time, and I have to say that Daphne du Maurier's descriptions of Manderley and that little corner of Cornwall are particularly evocative. Plus, I have a soft spot for Cornwall.

apr 24, 2007, 10:40pm

In a different vein, but, I believe still on the topic, are H. V. Morton's travel journals. His ability to weave together what is in front of his eyes with the culture and/or history of the location, along with his appreciation for the 'mundane', sets his travel writings apart from most. I'd especially recommend In Search of England and The Call of England (in that order).


apr 26, 2007, 7:11am

If you like London settings you might like An Eye of Death by George Rees - it's a murder mystery based in Elizabethan London around the time of Shakespeare and Marlowe.

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apr 26, 2007, 12:30pm

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apr 28, 2007, 6:27pm

Here's a few for those wishing to seek out a Scottish flavour where place and location are vividly described.
Highland River by Neil M. Gunn
Sunset Song trilogy by Lewis Grassic Gibbon - this is especially close to me as I live in the area where the books are set.

apr 30, 2007, 7:05pm

The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles has some wonderfully rich descriptions of the Undercliff and the area around Lyme Regis. While I know it is not a British setting and takes us off at something of a tangent, the same author's The Magus has beautifully captured in words the setting of a Greek island.

maj 2, 2007, 7:55am

Inigomontova mentioned the Breacon Beacons - another great book set mostly there is By Any Name by Katherine John - really made me want to visit the area - I think she's caused quite a tourist boom!

maj 2, 2007, 7:56am

I love the Brecon Beacons and spend a good deal of time there, so will have to pick up By Any Name. Thanks for the recommendation, Bookbox. I loved the Bruce Chatwin book recommended by Inigomontova!

maj 2, 2007, 9:26am

Three mutually incompatible suggestions:
D.H. Lawrence on Nottinghamshire - more "obsession with place" than "sense of...", perhaps?
J.B. Priestley on Bradford, in various disguises - the warm, fluffy view of the industrial North.
Oranges are not the only fruit for a very evocative, but decidedly eccentric, take on East Lancs in the 1970s.