Monday, 25 June 2012

My Favourite Novels to Read During Summer: Books From Around the World

When English weather finally decides to act against its stereotypes, I like my reading to reflect it. I look for books set in the sun, and that have light and not-to-taxing content. It isn't really the time for Russian literature, no matter how much I love it. I need a book that I can read in the garden, preferably with a glass of Pimms. Here are some of my favourites, sorted by country:

What reading The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim brings up in my mind. Image source.

Novels to read during summer, set in...

Italy


  • The Enchanted April - Elizabeth Von Arnim. This tells the story of four ladies, all strangers to each other, who go abroad to Italy and share a castle. It sounds a bit peculiar, but it's a lovely novel. Italy is so vibrant and flourishing with nature, and the characters gradually become closer  together (after initial issues) and understand themselves better as a result. Try not to be tempted by this advert that appears in the opening pages:

"To Those Who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine: Small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be Let furnished for the month of April. Necessary servants remain. Z. Box 1000, The Times."

Spain

  • A Parrot in the Pepper Tree - Chris Stewart. I recently wrote this post on A Parrot in the Pepper tree, a novel set on a Spanish mountain farm. It turns out that the reason I found it on my family bookshelf was that my Dad used to shear sheep with the author, which added another dimension to my reading experience somehow. 
  • Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel García Márquez. The love story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza: from youth to old-age, through obstacles and six hundred and twenty-two affairs (you heard that right).


Greece

  • Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernières. I'm currently reading this for what must be the third time. I first read it for A Level English and loved it, unlike other books by de Bernières that I've tried to read. I know a lot of Greeks still aren't happy at how the ELAS is portrayed, but to me, de Bernières successfully brings together so many nations at a time of war. 
  • The Odyssey - HomerCaptain Corelli's Mandolin is influenced highly by The Odyssey, like many other novels. Look for de Bernières's reworking of Penelope's shroud and Homer's soliloquies, and also the parallels between Odysseus and Mandras then Corelli. I love The Odyssey - for the beauty of its language, its characters and its imagery. 

India

  • Of Marriageable Age - Sharon Maas. A story of race and intertwined legacies, following three people across three continents and three decades. 

Savitri, intuitive and charming, is brought up among the servants of a pre-war English household in India. Both her own and the English family are torn apart by the racial upheavals, and by Savitri's love for the son of the house. Nataraj, raised as the son of an idealistic country doctor, finds life in London heady and mind-spinning, with girls and money easily available, so drops out of both his family circle and his medical studies until a chance meeting brings him unbelievable news of his parentage. Sarojini, tempestuous and outspoken, is brought up in Guyana, part of a group of rich Indian families who settled there, and finds herself in rebellion against her strict parents and the regime. (Goodreads)


England

  • The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett. A ten-year old orphan comes to Yorkshire, where she discovers an invalid garden and a locked garden. Even if Yorkshire isn't the sunny capital of the world, the flowers and nature described make up for it. 
  • Collected Poems - William Wordsworth. Perhaps Wordsworth and his daffodils are most suited to reading in Spring, but I don't mind; it's still beautiful. 
One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can. (The Tables Turned)

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