Talking Location With author Leigh Russell – YORK
Five great books set in Devon
28th November 2018
Devon is the latest destination in our ‘Five great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Devon.
Like westerly neighbour Cornwall, Devon is renowned for its natural beauty, blessed with alluring coastlines, including the ‘English Riviera’ and the Jurassic Coast, inland contrasts of Dartmoor and Exmoor, picture-postcard villages with chocolate-box cottages, and some famous rivers.
Unsurprisingly, the county is a magnet for visitors, whether temporary holidaymakers or those in search of relocation and retirement. Tourism forms a significant part of Devon’s economy, along with agriculture.
Many of Devon’s most famous sons and daughters were mariners – Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and Francis Chichester – and literary giants Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Agatha Christie and William Trevor were born, or lived in this beautiful county.
Let’s take a look at five great books set very firmly in Devon, to transport readers to this very special part of the UK.
On Everdene Sands, a row of beach huts holds the secrets of the families who own them – secrets of unrequited love, plain old-fashioned lust, childhood dreams and long-forgotten hopes…
‘FOR SALE: a rare opportunity to purchase a beach hut on the spectacular Everdene Sands. “The Shack” has been in the family for fifty years, and was the first to be built on this renowned stretch of golden sand…’
Jane Milton doesn’t want to sell her beloved beach hut, which has been the heart of so many family holidays and holds so many happy memories. But when her husband dies, leaving her with an overwhelming string of debts, she has no choice but to sell.
THE BEACH HUT follows the stories of the people who own the beach huts, families who come to Everdene each year, people who fall in – or out of – love, remembering their pasts, or trying to forget them…
Veronica Henry has brilliantly drawn together the comings and goings of life at the beach huts over one long, hot, lazy summer…
(Woolacombe was Veronica’s inspiration for fictional Everdene)
These twelve poignant stories, deeply rooted in the Devon landscape, are each linked to a month of the year from January through to December. You will be transported from a sleepy village square to the wilds of Exmoor and from a summer beach to the narrow streets of a small Devon town, and introduced to a variety of memorable characters.
In January, a young Croyde surfer tries to come to terms with her uncertain future. As signs of spring appear in the hedgerows, a farmer’s wife starts a new venture. In August, a bereaved woman is deeply affected by an unexpected sight on Lynmouth beach. A Bideford man searches for a special Christmas present.
All are at a moment of reckoning in their lives as they experience the subtle but significant events that make up everyday experience. These stories of love and loss, of separation and reconciliation, will stay with you throughout the year.
When a ghost ship is spotted on the horizon one spring evening, bookseller Eleanor Mace decides to investigate the myths and legends of Combemouth, the Devon seaside town where she runs The Reading Room.
As Eleanor digs deeper into the town’s history, she becomes intrigued by a Victorian crime report that seems to have unexpected links to the present day. A celebrity book launch, an exploding dress and some salsa-dancing pensioners make this a mystery with a difference.
It’s Spring 1941 and London is being destroyed by the Blitz.
Gwen Davis, a young horticulturist, leaves the city for the Devon countryside. In charge of a troop of Land Girls, her job is to rebuild the grounds of a neglected estate. The manor is far removed from the fighting but Gwen has her own battles – as she struggles with her shyness and fear of intimacy to create a community among her girls.
Gwen meets two people who will change her life. Raley, an officer awaiting posting to the front and Jane, a frail, free spirit whose fiancé is missing in action. Through them, and the beautiful garden that she stumbles upon, she finds a flowering of a different sort – her own profound capacity for love, even in the face of pain.
The beautiful, questing second novel in Tim Pears’ acclaimed West Country trilogy
1912. Leo is on a journey. Aged thirteen and banished from the secluded farm of his childhood, he travels through Devon, grazing on berries and sleeping in copses. Behind him lies the past, and before him the West Country, spread out like a tapestry. But a wanderer is never alone for long, try as he might – and soon Leo is taken in by gypsies, with their waggons, horses and vivid attire. Yet he knows he cannot linger, and must forge on to Penzance, towards the western horizon.
Lottie is at home. Life on the estate continues as usual, yet nothing is as it was. Her father is distracted by the promise of new love and Lottie is increasingly absorbed in the natural world: the profusion of wild flowers in the meadow, the habits of predators, and the mysteries of anatomy. And of course, Leo is absent. How will the two young people ever find each other again?
In The Wanderers, Tim Pears’s writing, both transcendental and sharply focused, reaches new heights, revealing the beauty and brutality that coexist in nature. Timeless, searching, charged with raw energy and gentle humour, this is a delicately wrought tale of adolescence; of survival; of longing, loneliness and love.
Which titles would you add to this list? Any you would like to add to our database? Please leave your thoughts in the Comments box below, and you can buy any of these books through TripFiction by clicking on the link on any book page.
Other posts in our ‘Five great books set in…’ series:
And our ‘Ten great books set in…’ series includes:
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These books are simply tasters for all the other books curated and set in DEVON… just access the TripFiction database to discover our full choice!