Talking Location With author Leigh Russell – YORK
Five great books set in EXMOOR & SOMERSET
11th April 2020
Exmoor & Somerset is the latest region for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Exmoor & Somerset.
‘Exmoor is a sacred, magical place. You find a truer side of yourself there’ – Dave Davies
Our Picnics in the Sun by Morag Joss – set on Exmoor
One night, two strangers.
A damage that cannot be undone.
For thirty years, Howard and Deborah Morgan have poured all their energy and modest savings into Stoneyridge, a smallholding deep in the English moors. Howard putters with pottery, Deborah dabbles in weaving, and both struggle to tend sheep and chickens and live off the land. But what began with simple dreams of solitude and sunlit picnics in the hills has given way to a harsher reality.
To help with finances, they decide to turn Stoneyridge into a bed-and-breakfast. But a sudden stroke leaves Howard incapacitated and Deborah overwhelmed. Howard’s world, once so limitless, has shrunk to the confines of their crumbling house: Deborah’s main joy now comes in the form of a brief weekly email from their successful son, who lives abroad.
Then, late one evening, two men arrive needing a room for the night-and set off a chain of events that uncovers the relics of old tragedies. New wounds are cut deep, betrayals and cruelties intermix with tenderness and love. And through it all, Stoneyridge quietly hides the bitter and transformative truth.
Evocative, intimately claustrophobic, and psychologically complex, Our Picnics in the Sun is a novel of stunning prose and knife-sharp insight. Morag Joss crafts a modern masterpiece of rising tension that binds and releases like a beating heart, propelling readers to a final page that resonates and haunts.
Blacklands by Belinda Bauer – set on Exmoor
Steven Lamb is 12 when he writes his first letter . . .to a serial killer.
Every day after school, whilst his classmates swap football stickers, twelve-year-old Steven digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. His uncle disappeared aged eleven and is assumed to have fallen victim to the notorious serial killer Arnold Avery – but his body has never been found.
Steven’s Nan does not believe her son is dead. She still waits for him to come home, standing bitter guard at the front window while her family fragments around her. Steven is determined to heal the widening cracks between them before it’s too late – even if that means presenting his grandmother with the bones of her murdered son.
So Steven takes the next logical step, carefully crafting a letter to Arnold Avery in prison. And there begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between a desperate child and a bored psychopath . . .
The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright & Cass Grafton – set in Bath, Somerset
It’s September, and the beautiful city of Bath is playing host to the annual Jane Austen Festival, a celebration of the famous author and her works.
Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, can’t wait for her friends to arrive and the Festival to start, unaware one of the recently arrived guests will turn her life upside down by sharing with her a secret that ultimately puts Jane Austen’s entire literary legacy at risk.
With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton – set in Somerset
Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.
In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. From the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.
Wyld Dreamers by Pamela Holmes – set in Somerset
In the summer of 1972, a group of friends is invited to Somerset to help photographer Seymour Stratton renovate a dilapidated cottage on Wyld Farm. Over the next year the group come to regard the farm as offering them a place to be for the rest of their lives, to enjoy ‘the good life’. But despite the commitment and camaraderie the rural idyll collapses.
Twenty-five years later, the group is brought together again in unexpected circumstances. Can events of the past be forgotten? Or will the secrets that are revealed devastate once unbreakable friendships?
We hope this has given you a taste for books set on atmospheric Exmoor and in Somerset. Take a look at our database and please feel free to add more!
Andrew for the TripFiction Team
Have we missed an obvious choice? Please let us know in the comments below!
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