Talking Location With author Kathryn Hughes – Central Spain
Penguin talks to authors about the book that changed their summer
17th July 2019
A rather lovely link dropped into my inbox recently and it came from Penguin Books. Several authors talk about the book that changed their summer for a variety of reasons, but for us Gytha Lodge’s contribution really rang a bell. You can see the full Penguin post on the this link! She explains why My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart, set in Greece, profoundly affected her as she was travelling through GREECE.
‘To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a connection with a landscape’ (and that is the pleasure of #literarywanderlust)
Geography is in the eye of the beholder, a truth that I learned in Athens. Imagine a teenage girl. Give her glasses, a terrible haircut and a very active imagination. And then, having let her read Mary Renault and form a vague interest in the idea of Greece, give her a copy of Mary Stewart’s My Brother Michael. It was one of those romantic mysteries that was destined to appeal: a smart, slightly lonely young woman goes to Athens and, after a case of mistaken identity, ends up drawn into dramatic events with a handsome young man. I’m sure it’s pretty shameful to admit it, but by the time I actually went to Athens I was no longer seeing its history. As I walked through the paved streets of the Plaka District, I was waiting for someone to come and whisk me away into a mystery. As I climbed the Acropolis, I looked at the view – and then for brooding young men caught up in strange events.
It was an unusual, off-kilter way of viewing the place, and yet, to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever felt such a connection with a landscape. By the end of the holiday, when no enigmatic men had appeared, I wasn’t even disappointed. The place still had a magic to me, and had drawn me out of myself. Which is, I think, what the very best books do, too.
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