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Book suggestions for a cruise on the Danube

21st October 2017

Book suggestions for a cruise on the Danube river, from Budapest to Munich. #TFHighSeasReads. 

TripFiction was created to make it easy to match a location with a book, and to help you see a location through an author’s eyes.

Now imagine you’re off on a river cruise and about to visit several exotic places…in between all that excessive eating, drinking and bridge-playing.

The Cruise Director will no doubt hand out plenty of information about the places you’ll be disembarking at, but how much better would it be to walk in the same footsteps as an author and their characters? Wouldn’t that bring your port of call much more vividly to life than seeing another grey museum, or jumping on yet another open-top bus tour?

Let’s take a look at a particular cruise (not a High Seas one!), and suggest some novels and travelogues that follow the ship’s itinerary and would really add some literary colour and flavour to your holiday.

Scenic’s 8-day Iconic Danube cruise from Budapest to Munich

Book suggestions for a cruise on the Danube

© Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours

Weaving across Central and Eastern Europe, the Danube offers timeless passage between Germany and the Black Sea, connecting revered capitals and regions of outstanding natural wonder.

Budapest (Hungary):

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer – a beautifully written story about a terrible period in Europe’s history, reminding you of darker times in Budapest, from where your ship will depart.

From a remote Hungarian village to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the despair of Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in forced labour camps and beyond, The Invisible Bridge tells the story of a marriage tested by disaster and of a family, threatened with annihilation, bound by love and history.

Orringer is brilliant in her descriptions of Jewish life in Paris, Budapest, and the out-lying countryside in Hungary – this is a brilliant piece of writing.” (Review by Liesl Schmidt on TripFiction).

Bratislava (Slovakia):

As the Danube snakes between Hungary and Slovakia, read The Woman from Bratislava by Leif Davidsen. You’ll even enjoy a literary excursion to Denmark!

In Bratislava, Teddy Pedersen, a middle-aged, Danish university lecturer, receives a visit from an Eastern European woman who turns out to be his half-sister. Father to both of them was a Danish SS officer who had officially been declared dead in 1952, but had in fact lived on in Yugoslavia for many years. In Copenhagen, Teddy’s older sister is arrested on suspicion of being a Stasi agent, and a murder leads Teddy – and the Danish intelligence service – to investigate the relationship between these two – the woman in Denmark and the woman in Bratislava. The link between them proves to have far-reaching personal and political consequences.

Vienna (Austria):

Vienna is famed for its culture and architecture, which go hand in hand to create an exquisite city on the banks of the Danube.

In a city imbued with musical heritage, read A Woman of Note by Carol M Cram.

Virtuoso pianist Isabette Grüber captivates audiences in the salons and concert halls of early nineteenth-century Vienna. Yet in a profession dominated by men, Isabette longs to compose and play her own music—a secret she keeps from both her lascivious manager and her resentful mother. She meets and loves Amelia Mason, a dazzling American singer with her own secrets, and Josef Hauser, an ambitious young composer. But even they cannot fully comprehend the depths of Isabette’s talent.

“Cram’s writing is so vivid, you can hear the music in your head as you read. She paints an amazing portrait of a woman who desires to succeed in a field that was closed to women, with a few courageous exceptions, at the time. Also, I found it refreshing to read about a heroine who isn’t beautiful. The musical scene in Vienna comes to life in brilliant detail, and the famous figures who make appearances include Schubert, Chopin, Berlioz, Liszt, and Clara Wieck, later Clara Schumann, who was one of the inspirations for the fictional Isabette. Cram also provides a list of the compositions mentioned in the book. A Woman of Note is one of the best historical novels I’ve read all year.”  (Review on TripFiction by Vicky Kondelik of the Historical Novel Society).

Salzburg (Austria):

Your cruise continues westwards through Austria to Linz, straddling the Danube between Vienna and Salzburg.

The Salzburg Connection by Helen MacInnes will evoke inevitable memories of WWII in this part of central western Europe, as your cruise approaches Germany’s southern border.

Twenty-one years ago, with the Allies on their heels, the Nazis hid a sealed chest in the dark, forbidding waters of the Finstersee, a lake surrounded by the brooding peaks of the Austrian Alps. One of the few men who knows of its existence is Richard Bryant, a British agent. He sets out alone to discover the secret of the lake and unleashes a series of violent reactions – and violent deaths…

Gorgeous for the city of Salzburg and an intriguing plot.” (Lead review on TripFiction).

Munich (Germany):

As your Iconic Danube cruise with Scenic nears its end, Robert Harris will transport you to Munich with him, but at a very different – and dark – time in history.

September 1938. Hitler is determined to start a war. Chamberlain is desperate to preserve the peace. The issue is to be decided in a city that will forever afterwards be notorious for what takes place there.



As Chamberlain’s plane judders over the Channel and the Führer’s train steams relentlessly south from Berlin, two young men travel with secrets of their own. Hugh Legat is one of Chamberlain’s private secretaries; Paul Hartmann a German diplomat and member of the anti-Hitler resistance. Great friends at Oxford before Hitler came to power, they haven’t seen one another since they were last in Munich six years earlier. Now, as the future of Europe hangs in the balance, their paths are destined to cross again. When the stakes are this high, who are you willing to betray? Your friends, your family, your country or your conscience…

Back in Munich, your cruise may be over and your waistline may have expanded, but why not take another look at TripFiction’s database and search for books firmly set in other places you want to visit.

Andrew for the TripFiction team

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  1. User: Tresca

    Posted on: 14/11/2018 at 4:44 pm

    I would rather read something lighter, like Danube Defiance. It is entertaining, but still informative.


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 14/11/2018 at 5:40 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment, Tresca.

      We’ve now added ‘Danube Defiance’ to the TripFiction database!

      One review says of the book: ‘The mystery is gripping, but it’s the setting that steals the show.’ The very essence of TripFiction.