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Travel to East Kent with a book – Whitstable

7th April 2018

Travel to East Kent with a book.

Author Julie Wassmer has a real gift for evoking locale in her novels and once I had looked at  her locations page I knew I would have to revisit my childhood. .

Image courtesy of Julie’s website

I was transplanted from the suburbs of London to distant East Kent in 1968, when my adventurous parents decided to buy a 26-bedroom hotel on the seafront at Cliftonville, a seagull’s hop from the candy floss and amusement arcades of Margate. This remote corner of the ‘Garden of England’ would be my habitat for the next 14 years, until I escaped to the rather more exotic beaches of Bermuda.

I went to school in the quaint Cinque Port of Sandwich, where English teacher Mr Ingram instilled in me a lifetime’s passion for literature. I played hockey for Cliftonville and Herne Bay. And I trained as a bean-counter in beautiful Canterbury, once we had moved to Chestfield, a genteel community close to the more raucous seaside towns of Whitstable, Tankerton, Seasalter and Herne Bay.

Julie Wassmer headed east from London too, 20 years ago, settling in a rather more gentrified Whitstable than it was 50 years ago. And how lovely to read about all the local landmarks she has brought to vivid life in her ‘Whitstable Pearl Mystery‘ series.

Photo: courtesy Julie Wassmer

The series revolves around Pearl Nolan – ‘Pearl always wanted to be a detective but life, and a teenage pregnancy, got in the way of a police career and instead she built up a successful seafood restaurant in her coastal home town of Whitstable – famous for its native oysters.’ I wonder if Julie’s inspiration for Pearl’s restaurant was the renowned Whitstable Oyster Company?

Scrolling down Julie’s locations page brings back so many personal memories of this unique area, but the way she has quoted from each book alongside local images is the perfect representation of what TripFiction is all about….finding books with a strong sense of place and seeing a location through an author’s eyes.

From the Whitstable Pearl Mystery:

Living in Whitstable with its pebbled beach, harbour and varied demographic of locals and newcomers always made Pearl question the point of  paying for a summer break elsewhere…’

‘…Pearl took the opposite direction, casting her eye over a colony of beach huts whose brightly painted decks and porches pointed straight out to sea….’

From Murder-on-Sea:

A gust of cold wind blew up from the harbour, whistling its way across the triangular piece of green at Starvation Point, its name echoing a time when hungry seamen desperate for work, would congregate there in the hope of being hired for a sea voyage.’

From Murder on the Pilgrim’s Way:

Her mother explained: ‘The riverbed was lowered in the 1800s and the point where the old leat, the artificial mill channel, re-joins the river is known around here as Tumbling Bay. Kids used to swim there until a local boy almost drowned. Now there are ‘deep water’ signs to warn of the danger…

Poppy lane on Chartham Downs, near Canterbury

We visited friends in Whitstable last summer. We wandered down to the harbour in bright early morning sunshine, saw locals queuing to buy the morning’s catch and strolled along the quaint High Street in search of memories. In the evening we sat on the low wall near the edge of the shingled beach, sipping pints as gulls hovered and children played in the last of the day’s sunshine.

I know all I need to do now to return to East Kent is pick up one of Julie’s books. They are perfect for literary wanderlust!

Andrew for the TripFiction Team

(all images taken from Julie’s website)

You can follow Julie Wassmer on Twitter and on Facebook. You can also buy her books from your preferred book seller via TripFiction

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For more books to transport you to Kent, just access the TripFiction database

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  1. User: Jessica Norrie

    Posted on: 07/04/2018 at 8:28 am

    I went to Herne Bay last year and have had Ramsgate recommended – after reading this it looks like I need to plan a longer tour. Great sense of place from this article.



    • User: Julie Wassmer

      Posted on: 16/04/2018 at 11:36 am

      Hi Jessica,

      Herne Bay is one of the locations used in my new book. If you go to my website on the following link, you’ll find some places you may remember: http://www.juliewassmer.com


    • User: Julie Wassmer

      Posted on: 09/04/2018 at 2:51 pm

      I’d like to thank Trip Fiction for this wonderful piece from Andrew about my books, The Whitstable Pearl Mysteries, and the locations that I feature within them. I was very lucky to gain permission from the photographers whose work is featured on my website. They are wonderful photos and Jessica mentions there is a great sense of place from this article. I always say that Whitstable is another character in my books but my new novel out on June 7th, Disappearance at Oare, evokes the mysterious marshland landscape of Oare, and also features Faversham, Herne Bay, Reculver, Sheppey and Seasalter. We are very lucky to have a diversity of landscape here in Kent: coast, countryside and also city, with Canterbury just 20 minutes drive from Whitstable. Wonderful locations for a crime writer like me. I hope you enjoy my bookd Jessica. Kind regards, Julie Wassmer. http://www.juliewassmer.com


      1 Comment

      • User: tripfiction

        Posted on: 15/04/2018 at 9:56 am

        You are very welcome and we really enjoyed writing the piece – and now we HAVE to visit Whitstable!


    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 07/04/2018 at 8:45 am

      Thank you for stopping by. I am inspired now to visit Whitstable, just from reading Julie’s novels!