Nine novels which will transport you around the world — and inspire your post-lockdown travel plans

Rosie Paterson rounds up the books to read now, and the places they're set in to travel to later.

Paris, France: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (1964)

What they say
‘Hemingway’s memories of his life as an unknown writer living in Paris in the twenties are deeply personal, warmly affectionate and full of wit…he recalls the time when, poor, happy and writing in cafes, he discovered his vocation. Written during the last years of Hemingway’s life, his memoir is a lively and powerful reflection of his genius that scintillates with the romance of the city.’

What we say
Paris is always a good idea, and if you follow in the footsteps of Hemingway you’ll discover a quieter and more authentic side to the city. Many of the places he references in his memoir still exist today, including Café Closerie des Lilas, just south of the Luxembourg Gardens. Stay at Le Bristol Paris (above) — a historic Palace hotel that knows how to have fun — or the newly opened JK Place Paris.


[READ MORE: Seven astonishing books to read in 2020 which will change your understanding of the history of the world]


Hydra, Greece: A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson (2020)

What they say
‘An intoxicating novel set on Leonard Cohen’s Hydra in 1960, a place and a bohemian society that has captivated the world for decades.’

What they say
Despite its longstanding appeal for travellers near and far, Hydra has managed to retain much of its authentic heritage and slow paced way of life. There are no land vehicles, so donkeys carry goods and suitcases from the horseshoe shaped port, through the labyrinth of steps and streets.

There’s little to do save feast on feta and fresh seafood, swim off the pebbled beaches and rocky coastline, and bake in the sun. Stay at Orloff Boutique Hotel — a converted mansion—or rent a villa. Villa Citrus is on a remote part of the island, right next to the water.


Corfu, Greece: The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell (1956-1978)

What they say
‘All three books are set on the enchanted island of Corfu in the 1930s, and tell the story of the eccentric English family who moved there. For Gerald, the budding zoologist, Corfu was a natural paradise, teeming with strange birds and beasts that he could collect, watch and care for. But life was not without its problems — his family often objected to his animal-collecting activities, especially when the beasts wound up in the villa or — even worse — the fridge.’

What we say
Corfu is enjoying something of a renaissance, thanks to ITV’s recent adaption of Gerald Durrell’s memoirs and the arrival of some of the island’s first, proper luxury hotels. Its location between Albania, Greece and Italy meant that it was regularly invaded, causing a blend of culture, architecture and cuisine that exists to this day. Travel with Elegant Resorts, and stay at the Italianate Grecotel Corfu Imperial or Ikos Dassia — or for a different vibe, renting a place such as Villa Yeraki comes highly recommended.


North Carolina, USA: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (2019)

What they say
‘Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Celeste Ng, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder.’

What we say
Few authors have the ability to articulate a landscape quite like Delia Owens, and her staggeringly visual descriptions of North Carolina’s wild coastal marshes will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Today, the 300 mile coastline, dotted with barrier-island beaches, is home to quaint towns and moonshine distilled from recipes passed down through five generations. Outer Banks is one of the state’s most popular beach destinations. Stay at the Tranquil House Inn, or try Air BnB for something more private.


The Aegean, Greece: The Odyssey by Homer (8th century BC)

What they say
The epic tale of Odysseus and his ten-year journey home after the Trojan War forms one of the earliest and greatest works of Western literature. Confronted by natural and supernatural threats — ship-wrecks, battles, monsters and the implacable enmity of the sea-god Poseidon — Odysseus must use his bravery and cunning to reach his homeland and overcome the obstacles that, even there, await him.’

What we say
An epic poem, set in the aftermath of the Trojan War, The Odyssey is not the world’s easiest read. And, even today, scholars are divided as to whether the places referenced are real. Despite all of this, The Odyssey, like much of Ancient Greek mythology, still enthrals. The island inhabited by a Cyclops named Polyphemus might be modern day Sicily; Lamos—home to cannibals—might be Sardinia; Aeaea — ruled by the daughter of the sun god Helios, Circe — Paxos. The latter is only accessible from neighbouring Corfu and wonderfully unspoilt. Rent out The Villa Collective’s six bedroom Paxos Beach House (above).


Bordighera, Italy: Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman (2017)

What they say
‘The story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera.’

What we say
The novel is set in Bordighera, Liguria, the film in Crema, Lombardy — so you could have your cake and visit both. The former is small, elegant and proud of its Blue Flag beach. Claude Monet was a frequent visitor. The Royal Hotel Sanremo is surrounded by beautiful gardens.


Famagusta, Cyprus: The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop (2014)

What they say
‘In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building.’

What we say
The Famagusta of Victoria Hislop’s novel no longer exists, thanks to a Greek military coup in July 1974, and the consequential Turkish force invasion. Don’t let this put you off though. The Anassa Hotel on the westernmost tip of Cyprus is regarded as the best. The peninsula is home to rare butterflies and orchids and on Lara Beach (above) you’ll find nesting loggerhead and green turtles.


Multiple locations: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (2013)

What they say
‘The Signature of All Things soars across the globe of the nineteenth century, from London and Peru, to Philadelphia, Tahiti and beyond. Peopled with extraordinary characters along the way, most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker.’

What we say
Elizabeth Gilbert is no stranger to writing fiction set abroad — she’s perhaps best known for the 2006 bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love. The story of botanist Alma Whittaker, in The Signature of All Things, plays out on a global stage. In Tahiti, the palm trees rustle like silk. You can experience it for yourself at The Brando, a sustainable Polynesian private island (above), once inhabited by actor Marlon Brando. The resort recently celebrated the opening of several new residences.