Reading English literature is so much more fun when you live in England

Posted on March 3, 2009 by yankeebean

yankeebeanI’ve read some of the classics in my time – some Jane Austen and other similar essentials. I’ve also read many a novel that chooses England (usually London, the South West or Yorkshire) as it’s beautiful and romantic setting. I’ve read these books my whole life and a they’ve helped to paint a fantastic picture of this most excellent country.

Rolling green hills dotted with sheep, endless expanses of heather, steep cliffs that are worshipped by the bowing sea, the Houses of Parliament, the London Bridge, and all of it coated in a fine layer of fresh oceanic mist (it is an island, afterall).

These are the images that I had in my mind when I first moved to Britain as a spoiled-rotten-tv-mongering-16-year-old-nightmare. And I deeply suspected that I’d meet a shy, charming farm boy and we’d fall in love, but almost certainly be thwarted in some way – probably by some evil governess.

Nothing, not a single thing on earth, could have prepared me for the experience of really seeing these settings first-hand. Because it was written in fiction, I always imagined that it had been exaggerated in some way. That nothing so idyllic could really exist – or maybe that it had been that beautiful in the 18th Century, but it would’ve been faded (or bull-dozed) by now.
Well, I just finished a book that took place mostly in Cornwall in the South West of England. I actually finished the book this morning while sitting in a beautiful little village in Dorset (we’re visiting Mr Nice Guy’s parents). I then went for a short walk up a hill, exactly like the ones described in my book, and looked out over the rolling hills dotted with sheep, exactly like the ones described in my book. Then, after lunch, we’re going to the sea side to see the stunning jagged cliffs, exactly like the ones described in my book.

The views aren’t only as beautiful as the descriptions written in novel after novel – they’re even more so. Words don’t hold the smallest candle to seeing and experiencing the real thing.

Reading English literature is so much more fun when you live in England because of this. I spend half the time expecting to see the current heroine stroll around the corner with a basket full of vegetables from the market, or standing on top of the cliffs with the wind whipping her hair this way and that. It is SO FREAKIN’ COOL… like this is how it was always meant to be read. It’s less like reading it and more like living it.

Highly recommended! :)

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Laura Zieg March 10, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Reading Brit Lit in England IS exceptionally cool, but I’ve been reading Agatha Christie novels. I definitely do NOT want some of those characters to come walking over the hill with market basket (including strychnine, pistol, knife, etc.) in hand! Even so, I’m starting to resemble Miss Marple with my knitting needles, so anyone wanting to commit a crime in the area had better watch it!

    Still, I can now picture what Mrs. McGillicuddy saw on the 4:50 from Paddington.


  2. yankeebean March 5, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    I write songs instead :)

  3. Iota March 5, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Are you going to write your own novel?

  4. peacefulyorkshire March 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Oh yes, I agree. What book are you reading?

    A favourite Literature visit was actually here in Yorkshire (score). Haworth has some great Bronte sights where you can see the Bronte parsonage. You can always hike to Top Withens where Wuthering Heights was supposedly set too.
    Or in the Lake District there is Dove Cottage where you can see Wordsworth Country, it wasn’t too overdone there with the marketing which was more pleasant.

    I didn’t like Stratford- Upon Avon that much for the Shakespeare thing, I thought it was too touristy and I couldn’t get a good image of birthplace and what his childhood was like. Oh well, the thatched roofs were nice.

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