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5 Great Books for a trip around EUROPE

20th September 2020

Us” by David Nicholls has been adapted for TV and is coming to the small screen on Sunday, 20th September (BBC1 at 21.00) with Saskia Reeves as Connie and Tom Hollander, who is perfectly cast in the role of Douglas. In 2014 the novel won David Nicholls the Specsavers “Author of the Year” award.

Photo: Radio Times

Connie has pretty much had enough of their marriage – a bit of a surprise to Douglas – so in one last hurrah they decide to take a tour of Europe and imbibe some art and culture. They have been pretty mismatched throughout their marriage – she has grown into a free-thinking woman, he is still a bookish scientist, they are not, then, a great ad for the notion that opposites attract.

I really enjoyed reading this. It took me to the heart of Europe, which is something that I am particularly missing in 2020. Saskia Reeves was interviewed on BBC Radio4 Womans Hour and she said that this project was her ideal job. She got to visit and film in some major art galleries when they were closed to the public; frankly, what’s not to like about that!

So in an effort to re-connect with Europe, we are featuring 5 great titles that will whisk you away to the continent.

Us by David Nicholls

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home.

He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together.

So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again.

The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed.

What could possibly go wrong?

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Daughters by Lucy Fricke, translated by Sinéad Crowe

Lucy Fricke‘s Daughters tells the story of two women either side of forty on a road trip across Europe, each of them dealing with difficult fathers along the way. A bestseller and booksellers favourite in Germany, Daughters evokes laughter and tears by way of life and death, friendship and family.

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No Baggage by Clara Bensen

Newly recovered from a quarter-life meltdown, Clara Bensen decided to test her comeback by signing up for an online dating account. She never expected to meet Jeff, a wildly energetic university professor with a reputation for bucking convention. They barely know each other’s last names when they agree to set out on a risky travel experiment spanning eight countries and three weeks. The catch? No hotel reservations, no plans, and best of all, no baggage.

Clara’s story will resonate with adventurers and homebodies alike–it’s at once a romance, a travelogue, and a bright modern take on the age-old questions: How do you find the courage to explore beyond your comfort zone? Can you love someone without the need for labels and commitment? Is it possible to truly leave your baggage behind?

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The Uncoupling by Cauvery Madhavan

A traditional couple from southern India, Balu and Janaki Shankar are in their late fifties and have been married for 26 years in reasonable harmony. They go to visit their son, their first trip to Great Britain, but he is unable to take time off from work to spend with them and instead sends them on a 16-day bus tour across Europe. During a two-night stop in Amsterdam at the beginning of their trip, Balu experiences something that leads to a sexual reawakening for him-a newly discovered sexual appetite for his wife-which just may be the beginning of the end of this typical couple’s marriage.

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Sisters by Michelle Frances

From Elba to Italy, through the South of France and into Spain.

Is blood really thicker than water?

Abby and Ellie were never close as children. Now in their thirties, they each harbour deep-rooted resentment for the other – Abby for her sister’s looks and her status as their mother’s favourite. Ellie meanwhile is envious of Abby’s perfect husband and picturesque home, a villa on the sun-soaked Italian island of Elba.

When Abby invites Ellie to stay, both sisters see the break as a chance to relax and put aside their differences. But with their mother Susanna there too, all the simmering tensions of the past quickly rise to the surface. And Ellie suspects that Abby and their mother are keeping a dangerous secret . . .

But after a shocking act, the sisters have only each other to rely on. Vulnerable and scared, trusting each other will be the biggest risk of all . . .

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Tina for the TripFiction team

Which titles do you feel we need to add to the list? Add your thoughts below and let’s build a good resource base!

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750 - 3000 words with strong 'sense of place' theme

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