Rosa_Saks' European Tour

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Rosa_Saks' European Tour

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Editado: Ago 28, 2013, 12:14 pm

Wow, what a great challenge!

I think I have covered a large part of Europe already, if I count all the books I have read over the last years. However, I think I'll start from scratch. It will be more fun that way.
My plan is to count my books based on the country in which the novel is set, and not the nationality of the author. Each book can only be appointed to one country. I will also be doing separate reads for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Oh mercy me.. I am going to be working on this challenge for ages and ages.. ;-)

create your personalized map of europe
or check out our Barcelona travel guide

Editado: Jul 26, 2012, 4:11 pm

Western Europe:

Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Ladies by Mara Lee

The Netherlands

Editado: Maio 13, 2013, 3:04 am

Editado: Ago 28, 2013, 12:11 pm

Central Europe:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Wetlands by Charlotte Roche
Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

Czech Republic

Editado: Maio 20, 2013, 4:26 am

Southern Europe and the Mediterranean states:

The Island by Victoria Hislop
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Iliad by Homer

The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Vatican City
San Marino

Editado: Jun 8, 2012, 4:12 pm

Eastern Europe and Eurasia:

Snowdrops by A. D. Miller
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoj


Abr 4, 2011, 12:17 pm

Welcome to the challenge. It doesn't matter how long it takes as long as you have fun and enjoy the journey.

Abr 4, 2011, 3:32 pm

Welcome here! Having fun is more important than finishing. Enjoy the journey!

Abr 4, 2011, 3:35 pm

Thank you, I will :)
I know some countries will be easy, but I'm really looking forward to tackling the "headscratchers", those being in particular the Eurasian countries. I'd love some suggestions!

Abr 4, 2011, 4:02 pm

Ohhh, suggestions! Now, you really shouldn't have given me permission for that ;). Just so you know, I read by setting of the book, so authors and countries usually don't match.

Austria: Homestead by Rosina Lippi. This book takes you through the lives of a small, Austrian village from 1909 until 1977. Normally, I'm not one for the realistic genre, but this book held my attention and my sympathies. Definitely recommended.

Belgium: The Sorrow of Belgium by Hugo Claus. A classic by a Belgian author that I greatly enjoyed.

France: Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Great story and you really get a feel for the French village life.

Italy: First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough. If you enjoy historical fiction and Ancient Rome, Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series, of which this is the first part, is the best there is.

Liechtenstein: Ludmilla by Paul Gallico. The only story I've been able to find set in this tiny country. Ludmilla is a local legend and a very nice story to read, even though it's short.

Luxembourg: yet another country that's hard to find a book for if you're looking for setting. I've read Luxembourg and the Jenisch Connection by David Robinson (touchstones never work for this one), but found it to be awful. I'm currently reading The Elf of Luxembourg by Tom Weston and that's a lot better. A solid 3-star book.

Monaco: Monte Carlo by Stephen Sheppard. A novel set during the first half of World War 2. A low-simmering thriller that I enjoyed a lot.

The Netherlands: this is my own country and as such, many of the books I read that are set here are in Dutch. However, I deliberately picked Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge as my book for this challenge, because it's written by an author who's never been to the Netherlands. But, the details of 18th (?) century Holland are great, accurate, and the story is nice as well.

Turkey: depending on what you like, there are two book recommendations. There's a light-hearted spy novel set in the Cold War, The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman. It's the second in a series and I highly recommend reading the entire series, as it's great! If you're more into historical mysteries, The Sultan's Seal by Jenny White is a great book. It's the first in a series, but it can stand on its own.

Vatican City: yet another one that had me searching for a good, long while. But, I found a great crime/thriller book set in Vatican City and (of course) Rome: God's Spy by Juan Gomez-Jurado. Also the first in a series, but can easily stand on its own.

There, that's all the 'Europe' books I've read and liked. I've got books on my TBR list for all countries in Europe, though, so if you're stuck on a country I can at least give you a rec, although I can't vouch for the quality of the books.

Abr 4, 2011, 4:26 pm

Wow, thank you so much!! I will definitely look into these. And maybe check out your TBR list as well.

Myself, I tend to get stuck on the British isles. I have an MA degree in English lit, so that is partly the explanation for that. I have also read a lot of Norwegian lit as that is my own country. It really is good to do a literary broadening of horizons. I love it when people recommend novels and authors that I'm not familiar with :-D

Abr 4, 2011, 5:01 pm

Welcome to the challenge! We're a stubborn bunch here, making slow but steady progress. I don't think you're the only one who often finds yourself stuck on the british isles, let me tell you....

Oh, and you seem to have forgotten Ukraine on your list :) (for which you could read Everything is illuminated or Death and the penguin. For instance!)

Editado: Abr 4, 2011, 5:04 pm

I too find myself in Great-Britain a lot, as well as in the USA. There's just such a volume of books set there, it's almost unavoidable.

Norway, not a country I have visited before, either in real life or in fiction. I've got The Shadow in the River by Frode Grytten on my TBR list for that country.

If you want, you can follow my European journey here:

Abr 5, 2011, 3:10 am

Oops! Sorry Ukraine! ;-)
I'll fix it!
And thanks for the tip, by the way.. Ukraine was definitely one of the headscratchers for me.

Abr 5, 2011, 3:17 am

Grytten is good, but if I were you I'd change it to Psalm at Journey's End by Erik Fosnes Hansen. One of my favourite books of all time. Check it out! :)

Abr 5, 2011, 8:33 am

Welcome, Rosa!

Another book for Vatican City is Dan Brown's Angels and Demons and you could use the DaVinci Code for France. For Ireland there is the Irish Country Doctor series, Italy has the Inspector Brunetti series, and of course, there are oodles and oodles of historical fiction set in Great Britain. I just did my Scotland with the book Outlander. But everyone is correct, it's the journey that is to be enjoyed, no matter how long it takes!

Editado: Abr 5, 2011, 8:52 am

This morning, before I read the board, I decided to start reading novels and books that relate to where I have travelled and will travel. I used to do that and stopped. I remember reading a novel before I went to Hawaii the first time and it helped me know more of the area. Go to your travel professional, or now, you can go online and order brochuers from places to travel. I bring home brochures from the office just to read about the places. The river cruise brochures are really good as they go to places in Europe, and other places also, and describe where they are sailing. That was a wonderful trip if you want to see small towns in Europe. I agree with # 17 that Dan Brown books are good in descriptions. #11 these are great ideas and I will check on these to read also. Thanks. Rosa, a neat message board.

Abr 5, 2011, 9:22 am

Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon (Atlantic Monthly Press, $24, 9780802119797, April 4, 2011)

This was in my messages from Shelf Awarness this morning. About Italy.

Abr 8, 2011, 11:52 am

Thank you, cyderry and mnleona for great tips! My snowball has finally started rolling now as I have finished my first book of my European tour :-)

Abr 16, 2011, 1:18 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Abr 16, 2011, 1:23 pm

Done with book number two - The Island by Victoria Hislop.
I enjoyed the story of four generations of Petrakis-women, and their struggles (which seemed endless sometimes) with lepra, relationships, family, and love. The book never blew me away, but I found it to be quite entertaining.

I'm now packing my bags and leaving Greece. Where to go next? Hm.. I don't know yet..

Jun 5, 2011, 6:41 am

My third book was set in Ireland - Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes.
I sometimes take to chick lit to balance out some of the heavier novels I have been reading, and Marian Keyes is queen of the genre. I did not like this one as much as some of her other novels, but that doesn't mean it was a bad read. Although dealing with serious material (drug abuse), it is still a light and funny read with a Keyesesque happy ending. I didn't really care for the epilogue (which managed to wreck a perfectly good ending), but overall I enjoyed the book very much. Now I am ready for a more challenging read again.

Editado: Jun 16, 2011, 9:03 am

I cross Germany off the list with the grossest book ever, Wetlands by Charlotte Roche.
The story is told by a young girl, Helen, who is hospitalised due to a failed intimate shaving.
Let's just say that you really shouldn't be eating while reading this ;-)

Jun 16, 2011, 10:59 am

I posted my review today on A Kingdom's Cost about Scotland and England. It is on LibraryThing and my blog A good read I received from LibraryThing and the author J.R Tomlin.

Jun 17, 2011, 2:19 am

Thank you for the tip :-)

Out 21, 2011, 4:09 pm

I have finally managed to pull myself out of the world of fantasy and A Song of Ice and Fire for long enough to finish another book for the Europe Endless Challenge.
I have now completed The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and I must say that it is a luxury to have five or six European countries to choose from for this book. I have ended up making it my book for Austria, as a little part of the action takes place there.
I really enjoyed the novel, which, as I understand, is Morgenstern's first. The narrative is elusive and exiting, and the author manages to create a magical world of the circus that "opens a nightfall and closes at dawn". It is a real page turner, and although I feel that the characters could have been further developed, I would recommend this book to anyone who want's to be carried away into another world, at least for a short while :)

Editado: Out 22, 2011, 2:51 pm

Finished Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran but I do not see Egypt on your list. Now reading Madame Tussuad by Michelle Moran. on England and France. Recommended to me by a member on SparkPeople. Good reads and lots of details.

Out 24, 2011, 3:10 am

No, Egypt is not on my list as it is not a part of Europe. Thanks for the tip, though. Both of them ;)

Out 28, 2011, 1:55 pm

Another Ireland book. This time it is one with more depth than Rachel's Holiday, to say the least - it's Dubliners by James Joyce.
I'm in awe of Joyce, and his amazing works. The professor who supervised my master thesis (I actually wrote about Joyce) told me that he only published masterpieces, and I really believe that to be true. He is an author of exeptional wit, and he crafted every piece he wrote to perfection. Dubliners is probably his most accessible and straightforward book, but it is wonderful nonetheless.
Favorite stories: The Dead, Eveline and Araby.

Editado: Dez 5, 2011, 3:09 am

Christmas is soon upon us, and my need for Charles Dickens has kicked in. No matter which Dickens-novel i read, it always seem to fit nicely with Christmas, probably because they are all more or less gloomy, filled with strong morale, and with a happy endings.
However, having read A Christmas Carol years ago (and many times over), I felt it was time to give the other Christmas Books a go. I started with The Chimes, and loved it. The characters are all great, but I especially love how the church chimes are almost characters in their own right. The story revolves around a father-daughter relation, poverty and marriage, and of course: it all ends happily. And that's really all I want in a Christmas tale.

Dez 10, 2011, 12:22 pm

Yes! A new country is finally crossed off the list.
The book is Villette by Charlotte Brontë, and the country is thus Belgium. The town of Villette is fictional, but it is my book for Belgium nonetheless.
I have to say I enjoyed it. The inevitable comparison with Jane Eyre entered my mind, of course, and I have to say that Villette is not measuring up to Brontës masterpiece. I liked the story In Villette, but for me, the protagonist did not stand out enough. I actually got the feeling that Lucy Snowe was a secondary character in her own story. The end was good, though. Bittersweet.

Dez 10, 2011, 7:11 pm

Emily remains my only Brontë. Must get around to Charlotte and Anne one of these days. Probably in that order :)

Dez 11, 2011, 3:06 pm

Anne is great! The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a favourite of mine. And of course Jane Eyre by Charlotte.
It's been years since I read Emily's Wuthering Heights now. I think I had some really naïve expectations that it was going to be a more classic love story than it turned out to be. I should really read it again, because it is a great book.

Dez 15, 2011, 3:53 pm

England again! The third of Dickens' Christmas Books - The Cricket of the Hearth. A story of strong morale, and I liked it. Although not as much as The Chimes.

Dez 29, 2011, 5:45 am

Another England-book, what a shock! :)
Affinity by Sarah Waters. I really enjoyed this one. I have only read The Little Stranger by Waters before, and many people have recommended Affinity to me. When I read it, it made me think of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood because of the setting in the women's prison. The character Selina Daws got to me immedialtey. The mystery surrounding her kept me interested for the entire duration of the read, and of course Waters has thrown her trademark twist into the narrative towards the end.
Great read!

Dez 29, 2011, 7:40 am

So now you've read the only two Waters books I haven't! I recommend you looking up her other books as well - Fingersmith being my favorite. I hope to get around to The little stranger in 2012 - not as an England book for this challenge though, I have quite enough of those :)

Dez 30, 2011, 4:39 am

I really liked both books I've read by Waters so far, so I'lld definitely be reading the other three as well. I already have Fingersmith on my Kindle, and a physical copy of The Night Watch, so I'm looking forward to tackling them both in the new year. I have a friends who's completely in awe of The Night Watch, so I think I'll be reading that one first.
Yeah, I have quite enough of England-books myself. It's funny how I always seem to end up there :)

Jan 3, 2012, 1:59 pm

Russia down! My Secret Santa on SantaThing (who turned out to be my friend Charlotte), provided me with Snowdrops by A. D. Miller. It was interesting as well as refreshing to read a novel set in contemporary Moscow. In fact, it was the descriptions of the city and its atmosphere that was the strongest aspect of the book. The story in itself was a tad predictable and unoriginal. It is a good effort, but it struck me as a little rough around the edges - a typical debut novel.
Wow, having completed my book for Russia, it really did wonders to my map!

Jan 3, 2012, 6:18 pm

@39 I really wasn't sure why snowdrops was lauded with such a predictable plot, I guess it was the sense of place that made it shine (although I admit I couldn't finish it)

Jan 4, 2012, 2:46 am

I know! Astonishingly, it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. I have no idea why!

Jan 16, 2012, 4:05 pm

I have finally made it to Scandinavia: Sweden!
The book is Simon and the Oaks by Marianne Fredriksson.
I rarely give a book five stars, but this one got it. It is the story of a Jewish boy, Simon, growing up with his adoptive parents in Sweden during and after World War II. It is interesting to read about WWII from a Swedish perspective. Even though Sweden was neutral during the war, it was not a safe haven for jews - an issue the book explores. It is also an interesting time capsule of the 40's and 50's in Scandinavia.
Oh, and I loved Karin, Simon's adoptive mom. Read it and you'll see.
Interestingly, while reading this book, I found out that this book has been made into a movie quite recently. I'll definitely see it (although I'm afraid it doesn't do justice to the book).

Jan 18, 2012, 5:24 am

Simon and the Oaks sounds like a great book, not so much for Sweden (I've got another book in mind) but for a World War 2 theme I am also doing. Considering it's from a fairly unique perspective - Jews in a neutral country - it's certainly going on my list!

Jan 18, 2012, 8:13 am

Yes, it is definitely one of the best books I have read on the subject, and I think it has everything to do with its uniqueness. Being Norwegian myself, I am very well aquainted with the Norwegian perspective on the second world war. It was interesting to read about the events of the war from a different perspective. And when the story is so gorgeously written on top of that, then it's a must-read! :)

Jan 19, 2012, 9:04 am

I know much of the Dutch perspective as well, know a lot about the English perspective, and even a bit about the German and American perspective. The perspective of the resistance in other countries I don't know a lot about, but I can guess their stories are about the same as that of the Dutch resistance. But to be honest, I often tend to forget that there were neutral countries in Europe during World War 2.

Jan 21, 2012, 9:26 am

England again. This time a novel I read for the Early Reviewer program.
The Heiress Companion by Madeleine Robins. Total snooze fest. Avoid!

Fev 13, 2012, 2:50 pm

Ireland again, and another Marian Keyes novel. That's Anybody Out There?.
This is definitely not amongst Keye's best novels. I think she has gotten more serious in her last novels, maybe too serious. Although, I love her concept of Feathery Strokers. Made the whole effort of reading this novel worth it!

Fev 15, 2012, 9:38 am

Thanks a lot for your welcome. Currently I'm reading also an Irish one Likeness by Tana French. I'm asolutely fascinated so far.

Fev 15, 2012, 1:51 pm

Cool, maybe I'll check it out. I love historical fiction :)

Fev 16, 2012, 3:56 am

Hi Rosa! Sorry, something with the touchstones went wrong. I'm reading The Likeness by Tana French. This is a crime mistery. It's absolutely fabulous.

Fev 16, 2012, 2:10 pm

Ok, I see.. and having seen what you're really reading, I'm still interested :)

Fev 17, 2012, 3:55 pm

Another book for England - Saturday by Ian McEwan.
Ah, McEwan.. I absolutely worship this author. His novels are always interesting, exciting, thought-provoking and deeply moving. Saturday was no exception. I enjoyed the political aspects of this book very much. It's a very good post-9/11 novel, and it manages to capture the mood in England, when the nation is facing another war in Iraq. A great time-capsule of the spring 2003, as well as a great read.

Fev 29, 2012, 2:51 pm

Finally! Norway down!
Dette er mine gamle dager (or These are my elder days, it hasn't been translated yet) by Tore Renberg.
Another installment in the Jarle Klepp-series. It is not the best one, but I enjoyed it anyway. It is a heart-warming tale of how Jarle, now 38 years old and married with children, tries to come to terms with his past. In particular, how he experienced growing up during the 80's with an alcoholic father. His father has been dead for years, but an unexpected encounter with an old aquaintance drags Jarle back in time, and he is forced to rediscover his childhood and adolesence - and to finally understand why parents and children can't always understand each other.

Mar 2, 2012, 2:20 pm

I find it so sad to see all that red on your map and yet my own little country is still grey. ;)
Perhaps your next read will bring you to The Netherlands?

Mar 2, 2012, 2:38 pm

I read Mannen som älskade Yngve in 2007, but I wasn't aware there were follow-up books - definitely need to check this one out when I go home next time.

Mar 3, 2012, 5:21 am

54 - Don't worry! I'm sure I'll be taking a literary journey to the Netherlands very soon :)

55 - Yes, there are several, actually. There's a prequel, Kompani Orheim, which is my favourite. Also, there's Charlotte Isabel Hansen and Pixley Mapogo, and the latest installment, which I have just read. You should definitely check them out.

Jun 8, 2012, 4:16 pm

Another book for Russia - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoj.
I can't imagine why I haven't read this one before. I have meant to do it for years, but I haven't done it until now. There's a movie coming out later this year, so I had to hurry up if I wanted to read it first.
I absolutely loved it. Tolstoj managed to convey an intricate mix of historical apsects, sharp realism and inner monologue. We get to know the characters intimately, which is what I enjoyed the most. Of course, it is a tragic tale, but the narrative of Kitty and Levin also conveys some optimism.
Definitely five stars!

Jun 9, 2012, 5:32 am

Oh my! You've got my great respect for reading Anna Karenina. It's one of those books I've always meant to read, but will probably never get to. Go you!

Jun 9, 2012, 8:37 am

Haha, thanks!
It only took me eight years to actually conjure up enough will-power to tackle Anna Karenina. And I can tell you that it was totally worth it.
You should definitely pick it up, you won't regret it :)

Jul 11, 2012, 7:36 am

Wow, you've tackled Anna Karenina. It's very high on my list of planned reads. I might just start one of these weeks thanks to you.

Jul 26, 2012, 4:08 pm

Yes! France!
The book is Ladies by Mara Lee.
The novel is actually written by a Swedish author, but it takes place in Sweden and France equally, so I made it my book for France.
When this book was published a couple of years ago, it was wrongly marketed as chick lit. That is definitely not the case. It revolves around twenty years in the lives of four women, but it does not contain any chick lit quality. It is a gripping tale of love, fate, friendship, and art.

Editado: Set 16, 2012, 10:16 am

I don't think I'm able to ever leave England. This time it was Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence that got me to stick around. Loved it!

Out 7, 2012, 2:30 pm

Completely unexpectedly I found myself in Monaco. The book that took me there was The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, which I loved. The novel was a wonderful merge of themes like literature, academia, mental disease, and the 80's. Highly recommended!

Out 12, 2012, 3:28 pm

Denmark down! Livlegens Besøk by Per Olov Enquist.
The true story about Queen Caroline Mathilde and Johann Friedrich Struensee is gripping, and very well written by the Swedish author, Enquist. It is also a very well crafted story about one of the most dramatical periods in Danish history.

Out 14, 2012, 11:22 am

I just finished The Iliad by Homer, which means Turkey is down.
This was a real challenge. I read the only existing Norwegian translation, and it is from 1920. In other words, the language was a bit arcaic (no pun intended).
I was amazed by how it is not so much about the Trojan war itself, but rather a story of friendship, loss, and grief. I was quite taken with it.

Editado: Jan 1, 2013, 10:25 am

Macedonia! The Christmas Mystery by Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder.
A Christmas classic for me. A small part of it takes place in Macedonia, so I took advantage of that. Macedonia is one of the hard countries to find a book for, but I managed to find one. Phew. I have many Baltic states to go, though. A task for the new year, perhaps.

Jan 1, 2013, 1:25 pm

That sounds like fun. I'm also in Macedonia with a mystery featuring Alexander the Great The Gates of Hell by Paul Doherty. The only downside so far is that the names are confusing and I keep having to go back to the list of characters at the beginning of the book.

Jan 4, 2013, 11:20 am

How frustrating! Although it sounds like a better pick for Macedonia than mine :)

Jan 24, 2013, 3:19 pm

Hooray, Scotland!
A story of love and time-travel, Interloper at Glencoe by Julianne Lee is the book. I got is as an e-book from LT - Early reviewer. I thought it would be a period piece in its entirety, but I was wrong. When I discovered that it involved time-travel, I was very skeptical. It turned out to be quite enjoyable, though. Of course none of it is believable, but it held on to my attention throughout the entire story. An alright read. Reminded me of Kindred bu Octavia E. Butler, although the latter was a more successful as a story of time-travel.

Fev 5, 2013, 1:18 pm

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier took me south in the middle of the winter. Only a small part of the novel takes place in Italy, but as it is an important part og the story, I decided that it qualifies as my Italy-book. When I was a teenager I read Rebecca by the same author, and was mesmerized. This one did not have the same effect on me, though. It wasn't as engaging and creepy as Rebecca was, although it had an interesting plot with the mysterious death in Italy and a more or less unknown cousing all of a sudden turing up on the protagonist's door. I'd give it three stars.

Maio 19, 2013, 2:32 pm

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, the third book in the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books-series. I enjoyed the first to books immensely, but this one failed to grasp me in the same way. All in all an OK read, but I have to say I'm a bit disappointed.

Ago 28, 2013, 12:10 pm

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. I have read many favorable reviews of this novel, so I decided to give it a chance. Krauss' style is very similar to that of Jonathan Safran Foer (her husband), almost too similar. It is a story of love, World War II and families with mysterious pasts, and it jumps in time and between points of views quite a lot. At points it was hard to keep track of who was telling the story, and that was quite confusing. Three stars.