Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Settings Around the World

Many of the books I've read in the last several weeks have a setting that plays an integral part in the story.

It's probably obvious from the title that P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy (a popular French author) is set in Paris, France. I read the US edition of this book on my Kindle before we visited Paris last year. This easy-to-read fiction story centers around Paul, an American author living in Paris, and Mia, a British actress who runs away from her philandering husband to spend time in Paris with her best friend, Daisy. The two main characters meet in a hilarious scene when Paul's friends (Arthur & Lauren) set them up. They decide to be friends and have some adventures, like visiting the rooftop of the Paris Opera. There's an interesting twist to the story when Paul discovers why his books are so popular in Korea. This is a good read with a happy ending!

I had read a note that the characters in P.S. from Paris first appeared in Marc Levy's debut novel Just Like Heaven, so I picked up a copy not knowing anything about it. This story is set in San Francisco and begins when Arthur moves into a new apartment and finds Lauren in his closet. Well, actually it's her soul because her body is in a local hospital, in a coma from an accident six months earlier. In essence, she's a "ghost" but she eventually can feel and touch things and transports herself places. Arthur begins trying to help her, so they are "together" . . . which means that other people see him talking to himself and doing strange things (like opening and closing the passenger door of the car before going around and getting in the driver's side). Arthur convinces Paul to help him steal Lauren's body when he learns that the hospital is going to take her off the machines that are keeping her alive, but he eventually has to return her. (SPOILER ALERT - stop here if you don't want to know how it ends.) In an unexpected turn of events, Lauren recovers; however, she has no memory of Arthur, which surprised me since they are married in the P.S. from Paris book.

Somehow I don't think the idea of one little black dress being worn by nine very different women  would work anywhere other than New York City. Nine Women One Dress by Jane L. Rosen was a quick easy read. The story is told from various viewpoints and we see THE dress of the season being worn by a runway model, a Bloomingdale's salesgirl, an executive assistant, a Hollywood star, and a host of other characters . . . few of which I found to be likable.

The Carver family introduced in Peter Taylor's A Summons to Memphis are actually natives of Nashville, Tennessee. They moved to Memphis when the son Phillip was 13-years-old because his father had been disgraced by a client, a business man who they all considered a friend. The story follows Phillip and his view of Memphis, where families made sure a widowed father did not marry a younger wife so the children could get the family fortune. Phillip's sisters actually end of doing this same thing to their father. Honestly, lots of information in this story is repeated so it seemed like a long time before the author finally reveals why the sisters summoned Phillip to Memphis from his home in New York. It was also a long time before the reason for the move to Memphis all those years ago was revealed. This story was ok, but it really had no point and nothing was resolved in the end. (Somehow this book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1987.)

Last year Robbie gave me a new Christmas movie, The Christmas Candle, which we enjoyed watching early this holiday season. We discovered the movie is based on a book by Max Lucado, so Robbie ordered me a copy. The Christmas Candle is a beautiful story set in small village in the Costwolds. In this village, every 25 years, an angel appears in the candle-maker's shop and touches one special candle. The person who receives that candle also receives an answered prayer. When a new young minister arrives the year the angel is to appear again, he is extremely skeptical of the legend. I highly recommend this book and the movie - the story lines are similar but changes were made for the movie that I really liked, especially how so many prayers were answered because the villagers helped one another.

News of the World is a very easy and engaging read. It is set in Texas in the year 1870. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is 72-year-old when he agrees to return 10-year-old Johanna to her family in San Antonio. She had been captured and raised by the Kiowa Indians (who killed her parents). She is wild and doesn't trust the white man, but the two learn to take care of each other along the way. Captain Kidd reads the news to townsfolk in the Texas towns they journey through on the way south. He charges a dime per person for them to come and hear the news from around the world. One of my favorite scenes in the book occurs when the captain and Johanna are being attacked by some bad guys who want to steal Johanna because she is a pretty little girl. Captain Kidd worries that the Great Brazos-Ten-Cent-Shootout will cause trouble, but no one ever discovers who shot those dimes into the bad guys. A great book that I highly recommend.

What settings around the world have you discovered in books you're read lately?


  1. I love books set in England. I happen to be reading book 3 of the 7 Sisters series. The Shadow Sister starts out in London, but I'm sure we'll be off on an adventure soon!

  2. Such a fun post! I have something extremely similar going live on Friday ... great minds think alike!

  3. News of the World was one of my favorite books of 2016. I'm reading a memoir right now about a family traveling around the world with three young children. I'm fascinated by the descriptions of all the places they've visited. Some I would not care to visit, but others I'd happily put on my bucket list.


Thanks so much for your comment - it's like a ray of sunshine in my day!