Today is the 50th World Literacy Day, a celebration of all things word-related, spearheaded by UNESCO. Here at Thomson Towers, we love a good read – especially when it transports us to distant shores. Feed your wanderlust with our list of top novels set abroad – some classics, some new and some very new indeed…
Set on Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands, the starting point is the Second World War and the unlikely love story between a young Greek woman and an Italian army officer. While he is part of the invading forces, his passion for music, art and determination to have a ‘peaceful war’ make him a very different sort of hero. While you can’t help but be pulled into the romance, history and drama of this epic tale, the real star is the island itself, along with the vividly drawn local characters.
Hopping to another part of Greece, The Island tackles the unusual topic of a leper colony on Spinalonga off the island of Crete. Sweeping through several turbulent decades of the 20th Century, and far from being an uncomfortable read about an unsightly condition, this is a story that captures the spirit of an unbreakable Cretan community ostracised by almost everyone else.
Be the first on the beach to read this brand new book, set on the idyllic Greek island of Paros. It’s a story of old friendships, new love and fulfilling a long-buried teenage dream to take over a guest house. More than your average chick-lit tale, the outcome of this may even tempt you into considering a permanent way of island living.
It’s a short flight to another part of Europe for our next book, but a long, labyrinthine journey into a much darker territory for this thriller. Complex and engrossing, this tale set in Barcelona captures the uncertainty and darkness of the Spanish Civil War years. Not an easy read, but if you stick with it, you’ll be talking about it for years to come.
Pick up any one of Nicky Pellegrino’s books and you’ll immediately be transported to Bella Italia. This one follows the journey of Addolorata – or Dolly – from running a restaurant in London to a surprising new life in Venice. There’s a dash of love, a dollop of food and drink plus plenty of lush descriptions of the Lagoon City to keep a reader invested in this delightful tale.
The book that spawned countless gap year trips to Thailand, and as result, sent thousands of parents into a tailspin of worry regarding their backpacking offspring’s activities on foreign shores. In a time before social media when it was entirely feasible to drop off the end of the earth, Richard pays a huge price for doing exactly that. Having been given a hand-drawn map of an island, he and two other travellers go in search of a distant utopia that turns out to be a far cry from paradise.
Is it a historical novel or is it a book of recipes? Most folk are still trying to work out how to label this wonderful story of Mexican magical realism. Our advice? Just savour every delicious page of this sweeping family saga that effortlessly blends cry-yourself-to sleep tragedy with laugh-out-loud moments of dark humour.
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Author: Alison Jacobs
Published: September 8, 2015
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