Take Your Book Club on the Road: Explore Europe Through Classic and Contemporary Novels

Discover your next book club read | The Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland © Courtesy of NewsCanada

Many of us find escape and adventure within the pages of a good book. Why not extend that journey beyond the pages? Hosted Villas can help you transform your book club gatherings and solo reading adventures into an exciting journey by exploring Europe through the settings of classic and contemporary novels. It is a unique way to bring the stories you love to life and see the world through the eyes of your favourite characters.

France

In France, Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” brings 19th-century Paris to life, while Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo” weaves an adventurous tale through Marseille and Paris.

Also taking place in France, “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr immerses readers back in time during Nazi-occupied France during World War II. The novel, which was adapted as a Netflix series in November 2023, tells the story of Marie-Laure, a young blind girl living in France, and her unique connection to German soldier Werner Pfenning.

Italy

Italy’s history is vividly depicted in Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons,” set in Vatican City and Rome. Robert Graves’ “I, Claudius” complements this drama with a dive into ancient Roman intrigue.

Next, travel through Tuscany in “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes, which explores the life, traditions, and cuisine of Tuscany. Mayes explored the region herself throughout the novel, sharing her journey of restoring an abandoned villa in the Tuscan countryside.

book club
© Courtesy of NewsCanada

Ireland

James Joyce’s “Ulysses” offers a unique look at a day in Dublin, and “Dubliners” captures the essence of the city’s residents in a collection of short stories.

Following characters Connell and Marianne from their Dublin high school to Dublin’s Trinity College, “Normal People” by Sally Rooney tells the story of class and popularity in youth, the excitement of a first love, and the complex entanglements of friendships.

Spain

Experience chivalry and fantasy in Spain with Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote,” and delve into the mysteries of post-war Barcelona in Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “The Shadow of the Wind.”

A coming-of-age story set in Spain, “Happy as a Partridge: Life and Love in Madrid” tells the story of Evie Fuller, who moves from her life in London to sunny Madrid, seeking to restore her zest for life.

Norway

Set in 19th-century Norway, “Becoming Leidah” follows Leidah Pietersdatter and her mother Maeva through the village of Ørken, where they are challenged with coming to terms with magical powers and how to survive in the human world.

The Netherlands

Following the story of the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” centres on Vermeer’s Delft household during the 1660s, when main character Griet is hired as a servant. The story personifies a fictional tale when Griet sits for Vermeer as a model. While the painting with the same name depicts an imaginary figure, author Tracy Chevalier brought life to the story in the 1999 novel.

—NC

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