A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Longing for a vacation but can’t get away yet? Sometimes fiction is the best escape. Here’s a list of four places you can only visit in books.
Wessex is home to melodrama, doomed love, and some of the most emotionally charged writing in the English language. Thomas Hardy set many of his novels in fictional towns of Southwest England, in an area he called Wessex after the medieval kingdom of the West Saxons that once lived there. Jude the Obscure, The Return of the Native, and Far from the Madding Crowd are all classic Wessex-set novels that bridge the gap between Victorian and Modern fiction. My personal favorite, though, has always been Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Hardy’s most harrowing love story set among some of his most evocative rural settings.
“Visit witch-cursed, legend-haunted Arkham! Where huddled, sagging gambrel roofs and crumbling Georgian balustrades brood out the centuries.” OK, so maybe Lovecraft’s wordy descriptions of Arkham wouldn’t make the best tourism slogans, but the ancient evils that lurk the gloomy streets of Arkham have always provided visitors with lots of opportunity for adventure and discovery. Lovecraft based Arkham on his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. He used it as an important setting for many of his greatest tales, including “The Thing on the Doorstep,” “The Dunwich Horror,” “Dreams in the Witch House,”and “The Shadow out of Time.”
Based on the Mississippi of Faulkner’s youth, Yoknapatwpha County is the setting for all of his major novels, including The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Light in August. The ill-fated history of the place seems to have a living presence, and the interminable family drama of it’s residents take on mythic proportions. My favorite Yoknapatawpha novel is Absalom, Absalom!, which portrays one of the county’s most notorious founders, Thomas Sutpen, as a modern King David.
Any visit to idyllic Blandings Castle requires a few preparatory steps. 1.)Concoct a false identity, impostors are always the most welcome guests. 2.)Make sure to have some kind of dastardly ulterior motive, trying to steal the manuscript of Uncle Gallahad’s racy memoirs, perhaps. 3.)Bone-up on pigs before you go, nothing will get you into the good graces of Lord Emsworth, patriarch of Blandings, quite like a thorough knowledge of swine. Blandings Castle and it’s surrounding town, Market Blandings, are the setting for over a dozen of P.G. Wodehouse’s most hilarious novels. Some consider Uncle Fred in the Springtime to be the best of the lot.
List by Matthew