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Five great books set in THE LAKE DISTRICT

13th November 2019

The Lake District is the latest place for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in The Lake District.

‘You may leave the Lake District, but once you’ve been, it’ll never leave you…

Five great books set in THE LAKE DISTRICT

Here are five books that will transport you to The Lake District, somewhere in time and with different characters and genres.

Dances with Daffodils by Matthew Connolly

It is spring 1802 in London and Luke Greenhead, prodigal son of a Grasmere shepherd, has squandered away half his life. In despair he returns to his Lakeland birthplace in search of home and family. By the shores of Ullswater he stumbles upon wild daffodils at the same time as William Wordsworth and his devoted sister and muse, Dorothy (whose description of the flowers in her journal went on to inspire I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, one of the greatest poems ever written).

Luke is enchanted, not only by the daffodils but by the strange, birdlike woman in their midst. When he attempts to woo Dorothy away from her overbearing brother a battle of forbidden love and tangled loyalties ensues, into which the whole of Grasmere is drawn. Dances with the Daffodils is set against the turbulent background of the Napoleonic wars, the rigours of drystone-walling on the fells at the height of enclosure, and the heady nature worship of Early Romantic poetry.

The novel embellishes the real history of the Wordsworths’ early years in Dove Cottage, drawing especially from Wordsworth’s poetry and Dorothy’s journals. Beyond being a vivid and entertaining sketch on a unique time and place in English history complete with the poets, thinkers and common folk who inhabited it, Dances with the Daffodils is a parable about the redemptive power of nature and remembered childhood.

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

A chilling, exquisitely written and evocative thriller set in the Lake District, centring on the obsessive relationship that develops between two writers…

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Well, no list of books set firmly in the Lake District would really be complete without this childhood classic, would it?

John, Susan, Titty and Roger sail their boat, Swallow, to a deserted island for a summer camping trip. Exploring and playing sailors is an adventure in itself but the island holds more excitement in store. Two fierce Amazon Pirates, Nancy and Peggy, challenge them to war and a summer of battles and alliances ensues.

The Coffin Trail by Martin Edwards

Oxford historian, Daniel Kind, and his partner, Miranda, both want to escape to a new life. On impulse they buy a cottage in Brackdale, an idyllic valley in the Lake District. But though they hope to live the dream, the past soon catches up with them. Tarn Cottage was once home to Barrie Gilpin, suspected of a savage murder…

Daniel and DCI Hannah Scarlett, in charge of the Cold Cases Review Team, find themselves risking their lives as they search for a ruthless murderer, who is prepared to kill again to hide a shocking secret.

Dunbar by Edward St Aubyn

In a modern retelling of King Lear, Henry Dunbar, the once all-powerful head of a global corporation, is not having a good day. In his dotage he handed over care of the family firm to his two eldest daughters, Abby and Megan. But relations quickly soured, leaving him doubting the wisdom of past decisions.

Now imprisoned in a care home in the Lake District with only a demented alcoholic comedian as company, Dunbar starts planning his escape. As he flees into the hills, his family is hot on his heels. But who will find him first, his beloved youngest daughter, Florence, or the tigresses Abby and Megan, so keen to divest him of his estate?

Edward St Aubyn is renowned for his masterwork, the five Melrose novels, which dissect with savage and beautiful precision the agonies of family life. Dunbar is a devastating family story and an excoriating novel for and of our times – an examination of power, money and the value of forgiveness.

Andrew for the TripFiction Team

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