The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.
This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.
This weekend, we recommend a getaway to Victorian England with the historical mystery A Curious Beginning. Meet a lady lepidopterist, celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, and — oh, dear! — get caught up in villainy, kidnap, and a little murder.
Our intrepid heroine Veronica Speedwell (secret and semi-legitimate daughter of the Prince of Wales) is a handful and a half. And we wouldn’t want her any other way.
She’s a lepidopterist — that’s a butterfly hunter — with an affinity for adventure, and she’s armed with a tongue that’s as finely honed as the hatpin she wields as a weapon.
Through a series of misadventures — including an attack at her home during her aunt’s funeral… how rude! — she finds herself in the company of Stoker. Officially known as the Honourable Revelstoke Templeton-Vane, third son of the sixth Viscount Templeton-Vane, Stoker is a surly, handsome naturalist with his own troubled past and a surprising (and endearing) feminist streak.
These two! Always bickering and flirting, and, of course, trying to solve a murder while also curating a natural history museum, as one does.
The banter between our two antiheroes adds the right touch of levity to the peril, and there are plenty of moments that skewer the prim social mores of Victorian England. Veronica is no shrinking violet and routinely gets herself into — and out of — dangerous situations.
This story is packed with suspense and daring exploits, including — but certainly not limited to — a run-in with a traveling circus, a treacherous dunk in the Thames, and menace at the Tower of London.
This is the first book in the Veronica Speedwell series. You might also like A Perilous Undertaking, A Treacherous Curse, A Dangerous Collaboration, and A Murderous Relation.
I shall not see you again. I am off this very afternoon upon my next adventure. — Deanna Raybourn
This historical mystery novel (352 pages) was published in September of 2015 by Penguin. The book takes you to Victorian England. Melissa read A Curious Beginning and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.