Summer has come to an end *sobs* and I’m already suffering from a major sunrays withdrawal! Where did the season go?!
I haven’t been traveling much during the past season, as I usually prefer to indulge in the summer months at home, when the weather is glorious and activities abound. But my go fever was strong, and so I did as I always do: I turned to books to travel the world through literature. This way, I revisited Morocco with great pleasure, getting lost again in the alleyways of Essaouira. I was brought back to the French Riviera, in an era long gone. I also experienced a hot summer in Brooklyn, where I’ve never set foot in real life, explored Portugal through different times and the small seaside town of Porto Vergogna, on Italy’s Ligurian Sea.
Though not the best line-up of novels I’ve ever read, it was fun to travel to all parts of the world without leaving my garden lounge chair. Here are my end of summer reads for a literary trip around the world:
THE BLUE HOUR
The latest novel from Douglas Kennedy transports us to Morocco, from the seaside town of Essaouira to the Sahara desert and the dusty, modern streets of bustling Casablanca in a mysterious tale of deception, heartbreak and lies. A bit too rocambolesque, the novel often takes on implausible plot twists and left me annoyed, but Kennedy’s penmanship is, as always, wonderful. I found his descriptions of Morocco to be absolutely brilliant, and it brought me back to his superb Beyond the Pyramids, one of his too rare travel writing books from the time he spent in Egypt in the 1980s.
THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE
I’m a huge Bernie Gunther fan and anticipate all his adventures avidly. Needless to say I was beyond ecstatic to finally put my hands on the latest installation in the series, The Other Side of Silence, especially when I learnt that the story was taking place on the French Riviera, from Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to Nice, where I had actually just got back from. In this 11th novel, Bernie befriends Somerset Maugham in this tale of intrigue and espionage, and I couldn’t have asked for a more fun reunion with my beloved detective.
This best seller by Jess Walter alternates between modern-day Hollywood and 1962 Italy in a somewhat fun… but also very dull plot. The numerous characters aren’t all interesting, except for Pasquale, a beautifully sad young Italian in charge of a small hotel on the Ligurian coast, where few people stay, preferring the neighboring village of Porto Venere. Though I didn’t particularly like the novel, I kept reading it because of this beautiful story set in charming, understated Porto Vergogna in 1962. Plus, there is an extraordinary cameo by Richard Burton, so it was absolutely worth it 😉
Modern Lovers is the new novel by Emma Straub, who has written one of my favorite beach reads of all time, The Vacationers, which unfolded on the island of Mallorca. In this new novel, Straub sets her multi-characters cast in Brooklyn, during a hot summer. As these couples try to sort out their relationships, the author gives an excellent sense of place by describing the very happening neighborhood of Ditmas, with her usual delightful wit.
THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF PORTUGAL
Though I didn’t particularly enjoy the new novel (actually made of 3 novellas) by Yann Martel, I loved the sense of place that emanated from the 3 stories, particularly the first one, set in 1904, in which we follow Tomas on an epic road trip through the country as he looks for a religious relic, in a car he doesn’t know how to drive. This philosophical novel was not as enjoyable as I thought it’d be, and though Martel writes beautifully, I quickly got tired of all the religious references. At least I got to visit Portugal!
So tell me, what did you read this summer? Share in the comments below!