In March, we introduced a new service: the Reading Doctor. Read more about Dr Louise here. And do feel free to request further prescriptions, as needed!
Prescription #19: In a time when the concept of overseas travel feels like a faraway dream, books about holidays feel necessary! What do you recommend?
Holiday adventures of the literary kind
After the school holidays it can be a struggle to acclimatise to the routine of lunches, early starts and uniforms. If the break was too brief for you, these books about the holidays of others might offer some vicarious thrills.
· A tour of Italy is a vehicle for a critique of Edwardian England in E M Forster’s A Room with a View, in which Lucy Honeychurch relies heavily on her Baedeker guide-book.
· The novella Death in Venice, by German author Thomas Mann, tells of a restorative trip to Venice to cure a bad case of writer’s block, in which an uplifting artistic interest in a beautiful youth turns into a ruinous obsession.
· An idyllic island in Thailand becomes the site of hedonistic indulgence and the setting for a test of human civilisation in Alex Garland’s The Beach.
· Beginning on the plane to Greece, Outline tells the story of a writer who travels to Athens to teach a summer workshop, as well as the stories she is told by the people she meets, in the first instalment of Rachel Cusk’s trilogy.
· A honeymoon is the reason for a trip to a small hotel on the Dorset coast in On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan, in which the very-much-in-love newlyweds grapple with the realities of being married.
· A 65-year-old Manhattan socialite takes a trip to Paris planning to make a French Exit, gathering about her a cast of equally eccentric characters, in Patrick deWitt’s absurdist novel.
· A sociopath takes holidays at someone else’s expense in Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley.
· Jack Kerouac goes On The Road across North America in the classic novel of freedom and longing that defined the Beat generation.
· Two couples from Maine go on vacation together to Siracusa, on the Ionian coast of Sicily, where lies and betrayals both past and present are gradually exposed, in Delia Ephron’s tale of a holiday which goes horribly wrong.
· A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary is an examination of the place where so many holidays begin by Alain de Botton, in which he reflects on what this mundane “non-place” might say about modern existence.