Literary Places

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

A fantastic read - a non-fiction book that talks passionately about the writer's craft to take the reader to a place or give life to a place. Literary Places is a journey throughout literature history and the world at the same time, plus the illustrations are magical and capable of capturing the places described just as well as the literary works featured in this book. 

It was a joy to read!
Was this review helpful?
This is a beautiful and interesting book. If you are interested in books, reading and learning more about the places of literary works this is a great book. The illustrations going with each one are works of art with some summary of the location including a few details of the story and more. It really is interesting for any reader that likes learning more about books or inspired by more details featured in books. You'll find a variety of classic book literary places inside this book.
Was this review helpful?
Less a travel guide and more a coffee table book, Baxter entertains her readers with charming short texts about the places where major literary works are set. We hear about the meaning of those places in the context of the stories, but also in real life - but these are no elaborate or even scientific examinations, mind you, but small vignettes that intend to evoke an atmosphere. The effect is supported by lovely drawings by Amy Grimes that dominate the whole book.

The "literary places" and their respective books are: 

Paris, "Les Misérables"
Dublin, "Ulysses"
Florence, "A Room With a View"
Naples, "My Brilliant Friend"
Berlin, "Berlin Alexanderplatz"
Nordland, "Growth of the Soil"
St. Petersburh, "Crime and Punishment"
Sierra de Guadarrama, "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
La Mancha, "Don Quixote"
Davos, "The Magic Mountain"
Bath, "Northanger Abbey" & "Persuasion"
London, "Oliver Twist"
Yorkshire Moors, "Wutherin Heights"
Cairo, "Palace Walk"
Soweto, "Burger's Daughter"
Kerala, "The God of Small Things"
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), "The Quiet American"
Kabul, "The Kite Runner"
Hanging Rock, "Picnic at Hanging Rock"
New York, "The Catcher in the Rye"
Monterey, "Cannery Row"
Mississippi River, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
Monroeville, "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Cartagena, "Love in the Time of Cholera"
Chile, "The House of the Spirits"

Full disclosure: My epub ARC expired before I could read the whole thing, but I think I got a decent impression of the book.
Was this review helpful?
This is perfect for fans of literature and travel. This is book is the perfect companion on your travels sharing with you the literary background of well-known or lesser well-known places.
Was this review helpful?
The essays about books and places they inhabit were truly evocative, enticing me not only to read those books (again if I'd already read them!) but to visit those places myself. Suggested works are also great substitutes for people not able, for various reasons, to visit those cities and landscapes. I am sure the authoress had a very difficult task to select only twenty-five essays among so many good books/places. There are so many great books set in various locations, but she had to choose only a few, that had to be spread across the globe. I liked the selection and wished for more when I came to the end. Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for allowing me to read the book.
Was this review helpful?
The predominant appeal of this book by far are the illustrations. They are gorgeous and unique. Sarah Baxter brings twenty-five well known literary settings to life. Each offering the reader both a visually pleasing and informative experience. I would love to own this one as a coffee-table book!
Was this review helpful?
Love the idea of setting the scene of the time well know novels were set/written. When reading I felt transported back to the time, the detail in each place is enough to make you feel a part of it.
Was this review helpful?
A well researched, illustrated look at the places that we've all grown up reading about. It is a nice mix of history, travel, and literature from Paris to Chile. Great for people who enjoy travel fiction or iconic classics. 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my review, but all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I was not able to download this book correctly, so I was not able to read it.The subject of the book was very appealing and I was disappointed in not being able to read the story. I will look for this book when it is actually published.
Was this review helpful?
Take a trip with Sarah Baxter through some of the most famous novels and explore the locations they are set in.
From the classics like "Les Miserables" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" to modern classics like "My Brilliant Friend", you're sure to recognise some of your most loved scenes in literary history.
Although I personally have not read many of these books, I found the level of research that went into each book's location very thorough.
I liked the fact that she chose a wide spectrum of books dating from the 1800's to the present time.
She describes what the places look like at the time the  novel was written, what the socio-economic and political conditions were like. She shows how the location influences the lead character and becomes a central character to the story.
She also shares background information on the author that influences at times their writing and choice of location and story development.
I loved the illustrations - nice and bright and cheerful. And they manage to convey something of the book's location. The maps were also a quaint addition - although not "accurate" in the sense of conventional maps, they gave extra character.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me the chance to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
Literary Places was a stunning compilation of descriptions of the settings from twenty five of the most famous books in history. I loved the writing style- it had the power to make even the ugly seem beautiful- and it really made me want to visit some of the places it described or read some more of the books it mentioned. I truly felt immersed in every place described in the book. It was very well-researched, and gave plenty (but not too much) background on the historical context of each region. I also loved learning more about how each place influenced the book that was set in that area, and how instrumental the setting was in the construction of the story. Most of the books I had never read before, and I definitely added a couple to my TBR list after reading this book. Each place had several accompanying illustrations by Amy Grimes, which were absolutely amazing! This was such an inspiring and beautiful book, and would make a fantastic gift for any lover of literature.
Was this review helpful?
As an avid reader and traveller, I loved this book even before I started it.  What a great concept!  I loved how the author, Sarah Baxter, selected her locations based on novel settings.  I loved the variety and familiarity of the locations and literary works chosen.  I also thought that the writing and descriptions where charming.  Each chapter was.a delight to read but too short.  Unlike other reviewers, I was not as taken by the illustrations.  They were cute but I found myself longing for photographs.  This is a great companion for any literature lover.
Was this review helpful?
I'm not sure what the intent of this book is... Is it a coffee table book? Is it a means to discover new books tied to geography? Is it a travel guide? I think some clarification of this would be useful. 

Also this really should not be read as an Ebook on a newsprint only device - the illustrations need to be in colour to be fully appreciated. On the topic of the illustrations they are sweetly rendered, but only a few of them are really tied to specific places and induce wanderlust or nostalgia. 

I also felt this was very short. The author's other writings include "A History of the World in 500 Walks" and "A History of the World in 500 Railway Journeys" but we only get a few handfuls of books? That's disappointing to booklovers who will have heard of if not read most of the works included in this collection (thus my wondering about if this volume is meant to introduce us to new books or not).

Also certain countries seemed over-represented whereas some continents really seem under-represented. 3 books and cities for England, 2 books and cities for Italy, 2 books and cities for Spain, and 4 books and cities for the US. Where are the books from South East Asian Countries, from New Zealand, from Canada, from Portuguese nations?!

The titles are also quite dated for the most part (or perhaps I should call them part of the established literary cannon - is that better?); 1 title from the 17th century (Don Quixote), 6 from the 19th, 16 from the 20th (mostly early to mid 20th century) and only 2 from the 21st century. Some of the titles and their descriptions definitely tantalized me, and got me excited to travel to these places; however I fear that that several hundred years after publication these descriptions for the most part don't hold up. Also the political and social climates described therein don't really capture the 'feeling' of the place, I feel like it either had to be all 21st century across the board or all historical/classics, not a mash up. 

And just to be nit picky only 8 of the 25 author's are women. Women definitely have written books in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries that could have been included!

All in all: it's a fun, cutesy read, but I wish there was more of it and more diversity.
Was this review helpful?
Sarah Baxter’s Literary Places is an interesting and easy read that takes you to famous literary locations and the novels that immortalized them. Each concise entry is accompanied by Amy Grimes’ charming full-colour illustrations. However, I wish that there was much more diversity because Baxter mostly focused on Europe and North America. Moreover, if you’re hoping for more details and want a more traditional travel guide, this isn’t the book for you. 

The book takes you through twenty-five places, including The God of Small Things’ Kerala to the Yorkshire Moors of Wuthering Heights and The Catcher in the Rye’s New York. Each brief section features easy-to-read but engaging writing. Baxter includes interesting and relevant history on each place as well as a simple summary of each novel. I’m excited to check out Naguib Mahfouz’ Palace Walk and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain because the descriptions sparked my interest. 

But, the book is sorely lacking in diversity. I was hoping to discover new literary locations in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. I also wanted more non-white authors. Baxter mostly focused on white authors in North America and Europe. The book would be more interesting if more novels from diverse authors and different continents were included. 

Each location is accompanied by Grimes’ full-colour illustrations. These simple but effective pictures are lovely and softly coloured. I particularly like the depictions in the Monterey and Kerala sections. However, some pictures needed to be more relevant to each section because they felt too generic. 

The book is a succinct introduction to these literary places. It made me want to research the books, authors, and fascinating locations. It also definitely inspired me to consider traveling to these wonderful locations. However, I’m hesitant to call this book a travel guide simply because it does not provide enough details. 

Literary Places is a great read which introduces you to famous literary locations. The full-colour illustrations are lovely. However, I wish some pictures were more specific to each location and that the book was much more diverse and included more authors and locations from around the world. But, I enjoyed this book. I hope Baxter and Grimes release another more detailed collection soon. If you love reading about novels, fascinating locations, or are just looking for a light and pretty read, check this book out! 

Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group - White Lion Publishing for this book in exchange for an honest review.

📖 📖 📖 books out of 5!
Was this review helpful?
A book that discusses places that have been in classic literature, and also the works that get such esteemed settings.  You don't really learn a lot about either the books or the sites, although many spoilers still get shoe-horned in.  Obviously it's on a hiding to nothing to summarise both Paris AND Les Mis in three pages, but having that first and foremost is a sign this book can't quite achieve what it wants.  It's better with, say, the link-up of Dublin and Joyce's writing, mapping out Crime and Punishment, or discussing how Cannery Row the book changed Cannery Row the place.  When not literally providing a chart of locations the artwork is a little too disposable, giving the volume a feel of a trivial pocket guide with aspirations of becoming a coffee-table book.
Was this review helpful?
Sophie’s next book was Literary Places by Sarah Baxter, a look at the real world locations that inspired and became integral parts of many classic novels. Each short chapter explores a given location and novel, tying real locations to fictional events or looking at the real buildings that inspired fictional variations.

Literary Places travels all over the world, from New York to Cairo, the Yorkshire Moors to Kabul, London to the Australian Outback. Each of the novels selected is intrinsically linked to its location and could not be transplanted elsewhere. Ulysses could not take place outside of turn-of-the-20th-Century Dublin, nor could Les Miserables take place outside 19th Century Paris, or To Kill a Mockingbird outside the American south in the 1930s.

In the book, Baxter gives a brief overview of the novels she is discussing, then takes us on a short tour of the places that inspired it, pointing out landmarks that can be visited should you wish to take a pilgrimage. This is interspersed with illustrations by Amy Grimes whose bright and bold style helps capture the feel of these varied places. Sophie felt these descriptions were a little short and vague at times, often surprising her by their abrupt endings. This is very much a picture postcard look at these places, not a detailed essay.

Because Literary Places focuses heavily on the so-called Western Canon, the authors featured are not exactly diverse. While authors from around the world are included, of the 25 books featured in this volume, 17 were written by men, and 23 by white people. Books located in Europe account for more than 50% of the total too with the Continents of Africa and South America only covered by two titles each.

Sophie felt that while Literary Places has a great concept, it could have benefited by delving deeper and expanding its horizons a little further.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting read for the reader who loves to travel to the real-life locations of literature. Loved the illustrations.
Was this review helpful?
Quarto publishing always deliver some interesting reads. This book was no exception. Dip in anywhere and you will find something new about the place books you have enjoyed are set or decide to read (even reread) a novel after discovering the real place it was set. What ever way tou approach this book it’s a little gem.
Was this review helpful?
I think I'm always guilty of browsing through NetGalley during my free time, admiring book covers, analyzing synopses, and looking for a unique read. It only seemed right that I would pick up a book about books.

I think I fell in love with this book from the very get-go. It details places around the world that are featured in literary masterpieces. The book has a wonderful format with colorful and vivid drawings accompanied by writing.

The writing is absolutely stunning. What the pictures fail to show, the descriptions make up in sight, sound, and smell. While Sarah Baxter sets you up with the rich history of the setting, she also allows you to follow the story line of the novel.

You learn so much in a compact 144 pages. The book also introduced me to many pieces that I have yet to read and expanded my knowledge on the places I have yet to go. But I am certain that when I make my next trips, it will be so much more enriched knowing the literary value of the places I visit.
Was this review helpful?
A fun guide for the armchair traveler! I’ve always loved traveling through books, and this beautifully illustrated guide takes the reader through a few of the great books and the cities in which they take place. I originally thought Literary Places would be a sort of travel guidebook, and Sarah Baxter does provide a few interesting landmarks to check out in each city. But I recommend this book as a way to quickly escape to Dickens’s London or Ferrante’s Venice from the comfort of your own living room.
Was this review helpful?