A while ago Jen Campbell started a new tag with this video in which she talked about ten books that are linked with a certain place and time in her life. I thought it was a lovely tag and when I saw Jean’s version of it, I thought: I have to do this as well! Instead of ten I have picked five books, just because I don’t have that many books linked to a specific time and/or place. Let’s see, shall we?
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Falsely accused of treason, the young sailor Edmond Dantes is arrested on his wedding day and imprisoned in the island fortress of the Chateau d’If. After a dramatic escape, he sets out to discover the fabulous treasure of Monte Cristo and avenge himself on his enemies. (Goodreads)
This one reminds me very much of the summer holidays of 2009 when I went to France with my family. It was the first time I read a French classic (albeit in a Dutch translation), but I was completely sold. I remember sitting in a camp chair, two days in a row, and barely doing anything else because I wanted to finish it as soon as possible. I absolutely devoured it and I’ve reread it twice since. I’ve never read anything else by Dumas by the way – I tried The Three Musketeers, but I couldn’t really get into it.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! (Goodreads)
I first encountered Harry Potter during the summer of 2004. I was twelve years old and my father had bought a Dutch edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on the way to our holiday in England and Whales. It was intended as a gift for my mother, but she ended up reading it to me and my brother, who is four years my junior. I remember absolutely loving it (and Voldemort scaring the creeps out of me!). When the book was finished, I immediately picked it up and started reading it all over again myself. From that moment on, I was hooked.
In Lucia’s Eyes by Arthur Japin
Amsterdam 1758, and a man is artfully seducing a woman. He is, to all appearances, Monsieur le Chevalier de Seingalt; she is a courtesan, well-known in Amsterdam for the fact that she never removes her veil. He sets her a challenge: if she can find a woman who has suffered after falling in love with him, she is entitled to resist his charms; if not, she should play his game. What Seingalt doesn’t know is that he has already met the veiled woman many years ago, in another life. What Lucia doesn’t know is that Seingalt will go down in history as one of the world’s greatest lovers, Casanova. (Goodreads)
I’ve talked about this book in my blog post about five Dutch works of fiction that have been translated into English and if it wasn’t clear enough then, it will be now. This book made a huge impression on me when I read it (the Dutch original). I’m not quite sure how I old was then, but I think I was around 16, maybe 17 years old. Japin’s writing introduced me to the world of literary fiction, so it’s safe to say the book played a major part in my reading life. I’ve never reread it however and I feel I should – very soon.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. (Goodreads)
I think Jane Eyre was one of my first classics. I had to read a book for English class when I was 17: I picked this one up and fell completely in love with it and English classical literature in general. The fact that I’m now doing the Penguin English Library challenge is your proof! Again this novel need rereading …
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride & Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its ingenious plot, brilliant dialogue, inventive assortment of unique characters, and wealth of humour. The central theme is the romantic clash of two opinionated young people. In one corner, there is Elizabeth Bennet, our highly vivacious heroine, in the other, the arrogant but captivating Mr. Darcy. Their destinies interweave in a timeless pattern of courtship, love, property, and marriage. (Goodreads).
This book reminds me of two different things. Firstly, it reminds me of my teenage years, again around my 17th when I also discovered Jane Eyre, and secondly of this very year. As you may know I was in a reading slump for about four years (since I started uni up until last year, around December) and Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice really set me back on track. I had read it before, but reading it a second (or third?) time made me see why I adored Austen so much. Her wit, her pleasant style of writing, the many great and eccentric characters … It’s absolutely worth rereading your favourites!
That’s it for today. I hope you enjoyed this ‘top 5’!
Do you have a book that always makes you think of a certain place and/or time?