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.
I read this book in one dazzling day. The setting of Autignac, a medieval village in the south of France, is swoon-worthy, as is the manor house where most of the action takes place. The characters are a mess in the most entertaining way, and the twists don’t stop until the very last page.—Melissa
What better way to celebrate summer than a luxurious villa in the south of France. In a vineyard. With your three best friends in the world. And all of your families. It’s a sun-drenched paradise — except when it’s not. And in this case, it’s really, really not.
Kate and her three best girlfriends have spent a weekend away together for decades. But this year, they’ve extended their holiday to a full week and included their spouses and kids. It’s a chance to unwind with a crisp bottle of white and give their favorite people a chance to really connect with each other.
But after a long drive through the French countryside, Kate makes a chilling discovery: Her husband is having an affair, and one of her trusted friends is the other woman. As her misgivings overwhelm her, everything she thought was true — about her confidantes, her husband, her children, maybe even herself — begins to unravel.
This story is a layer cake of secrets and suspicions, and it is delicious. T.M. Logan’s lush descriptions of the Mediterranean setting — green vineyards, sweltering sun, cobbled alleys, and the straight-from-Architectural-Digest villa — make for a satisfying contrast with the ugly goings-on among the characters.
And oh, these characters! Their decades-long relationships have engendered grudges and misunderstandings and secret alliances that hide beneath the surface of every conversation. The plot is as twisty as the streets in the nearby village, and just when the action — and relentless sunshine — are about to push everyone over the edge: a roaring thunderstorm.
This is a perfect end-of-summer read (or steamy diversion in the bleak midwinter) — a delighful melodrama of eavesdropping, peeking around corners, and assuming the worst at every turn. It’s an illicit treat! But it’s not all fireworks and brooding silences. Even at its soapiest, there’s a heartfelt exploration of just how far people will go to protect the ones they love.
Note: This novel is called The Holiday in the U.K. because British English is fancy like that.
I opened my door and stepped out, stretching my arms after the journey, the air-conditioned chill vanishing instantly as the late July heat enveloped me like a blanket. The air smelled of olives and pine and summer heat baked into the dark earth. There was no sound – no traffic, no people – except for the gentle swishing of the breeze high up in the cypress trees, the car engine ticking quietly as it cooled. We stood there, stretching and blinking in the dazzling sun, taking in the villa… three wide storeys of whitewashed stone and terracotta tiles, the parking circle shaded by olive trees, broad stone steps leading up to a double front door in dark, studded oak. — T.M. Logan
This psychological thriller (384 pages) was published in July of 2020 by St. Martin's Press. The book takes you to the south of France. Melissa read The Vacation 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.
Top image courtesy of Paul Atkinson/Shutterstock.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
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.
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 2020 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 © 2020 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.