Multitudes of Milieus

Many novels are mainly set in one or two locales, but some have three, four, or more.

Books that literally jump all over the place can be quite fascinating — offering lots of varied cultural immersion. But they can also feel scattered — and authors of such novels might have to do a lot of (too much?) time-consuming research and travel to get things right.

A plethora-of-places novel I recently read was Eduardo Halfon’s Mourning, a partly Holocaust-themed book that bounces (via present and past scenes) from Italy to Poland to Guatemala to the U.S. — all in just 157 pages. A well-written semi-autobiographical book, but rather dizzying to read.

Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner also goes country-hopping — from Afghanistan to Pakistan to the U.S. back to Pakistan and Afghanistan and the U.S.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s compelling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin opens in Kentucky before shifting to New Orleans (after Tom is sold to another slave owner) and rural Louisiana. Meanwhile, the book’s Eliza character escapes the South into Ohio, and eventually ends up in Canada with her husband George before they later go to France and then Liberia.

Of course, sea literature often features many places. For instance, Herman Wouk’s World War II novel The Caine Mutiny starts off in New York City, voyages to various parts of the world (including Okinawa), makes a mid-book stop in San Francisco, and then ends back in NYC.

Edgar Allan Poe’s novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket begins in…Nantucket…and later moves to the South Seas, the tip of South Africa, and then Antarctica near the South Pole.

Speaking of Antarctica, part of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette takes place on that frigid continent. There’s also plenty of time spent in Seattle — even as Bernadette’s “personal assistant” Manjula lives in India.

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is mostly “limited” to one country (the U.S), but protagonist Sal really gets around. San Francisco, Denver, New York City, Virginia, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Texas, Mexico City, etc. Road-trip novels can do that — with another example being Paul Auster’s The Music of Chance, in which protagonist Jim Nashe drives back and forth across America for a year.

By no means a road-trip novel, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom does put its characters in places such as Minnesota, West Virginia, Virginia, New York City, and Washington, DC.

There’s also Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch — in which the settings include New York City, Las Vegas, and Amsterdam before protagonist Theo Decker travels all over the U.S.

Maybe the ultimate example of a saturated-with-settings novel is Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days — which moves from England to Egypt to India to Hong Kong to Japan to San Francisco to New York City and then back to London.

Finally, if you look at book series, the roaming Jack Reacher visits many places in Lee Child’s 23 novels. States such as California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia, as well as Washington, DC, and England, France, and Germany.

Of course, some novels and series with geographic gyrations have one character visit various places, while others might have different characters in different places.

Your favorite novels that fit this theme?

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com. The latest weekly piece — about everything from local litigation to a lucrative liquor license — is here.

70 thoughts on “Multitudes of Milieus

  1. If imaginary places count, then here are 2 obvious ones: The Narnia chronicles and the Ring trilogy, each being the story of a journey through a fantastic world, varied in topography and inhabitants, including orcs and dufflepuds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Imaginary places work for me, jhNY. 🙂 And you gave two great examples! Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee and company got pretty darn tired after a while with all their trekking.

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  2. Hello Dave and your wonderful Astorers! Yeah, I’m making that a thing.

    Multiple locales? Well, after returning from 15 days in Spain I suppose I could talk about Papa’s The Sun Also Rises but I have a better story, although I had a pint at Cerveceria Alemana one of his fave watering holes in Madrid, I felt so 1920’s.

    Walking the medieval streets of Toledo, in just about every trinket store one can find infinite variations of Don Quixote figurines. Immediately I thought of my pal Dave, WHOA! not making any inferences, besides we already have Trump fighting wind turbines, the reason I thought of you was all the times DQ comes up on this site because it is such a rich masterwork.

    Set in la Mancha, central Spain, DQ travels different regions, that in his day ( Cervantes) must seem an epic trip, seeking to be the personification of the romanticized knight-errant. In his misadventures he encounters people raging from criminals to lovers.

    The sad thing is that I tried to find one copy of DQ and found none. Poor Quixote, in that place, has become nothing more than figurines and t-shirts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jack! Funny/fascinating comment! Glad you got to Spain — a great country to visit. I’ve just been there once, but, like you, spent about two weeks there…in Madrid, Granada, Seville, and Toledo — with the last city indeed like a medieval time capsule, and a terrific place to walk through despite being “touristy” like some wonderful destinations can be.

      Excellent point about how what can be considered a lot of travel is relative to its time period. As you noted, Don Quixote did get around quite a bit for the 1500s/early 1600s. Just a fabulous novel — a masterwork, as you said — and sad you couldn’t find a copy where there should have been many.

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    • I too toured Spain with my brother, my parents and my wife over 10 daze in 2000. My most memorable incongruity: arriving at the massive cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to the strains of “Let’s Talk About Sex” blaring out over a portable sound system operated by smiling Spanish women past menopause. Don’t know exactly why, but this memory was stirred up in me by your description of Toledo, a place without Cervantes but with plenty of Quixotes.

      Enjoyed your comment!

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  3. Perhaps a bit hyper-meta, my example for the week’s topic:

    The author, born in Galicia when it was still part of Austro-Hungarian Empire, had no fixed abode during his entire post-WWI professional life so much as he had favorite hotels, and lived therein till death. Even married, he and his wife lived in hotels, with nothing more than their clothes. The author,though a prolific writer, carried no books, and mostly relied on his capacious and accurate memory for reference. After Galicia, he first lived in Vienna, then Berlin and finally, Paris.

    The author’s name? Joseph Roth, and my example is titled, appropriately, “Flight Without End”. A Viennese lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army, Franz Tunda, leaves Vienna and his fiance Irene but is captured soon after by Russian troops and put into a prisoner of war camp in Irkutsk, from which he escapes with help from a Siberian Pole, with whom he lives for some time before leaving on a false Polish passport for Vienna via the Ukraine.

    He is diverted forcibly from his destination by the White Counter-revolution convulsing Russia, and becomes a companion to Natasha, a Red revolutionary, fighting alongside her in the Caucasus, the Urals, the Volga, and after victory, they came to live in Moscow, where eventually, they parted. He returned to the Caucasus and married a girl he had met on his earlier travels, and they move to Baku. But Tunda is restless and unhappy with his simple domestic life, and abandons Baku, his wife and the Revolution.

    He returns to Vienna, finds his fiance Irene is no longer there, moves to a small German city where his brother conducts the symphony, but finds he cannot quietly fit in with local society, and when he received word that Irene has been seen in berlin, he travels there, only to find she is now in Paris. Tunda follows. He sends her letters. He receives no answer. One day he sees her as she steps out of a car.

    “She returned his gaze. She looked at him, a little ruefully, a little flattered, as women look into a mirror they pass in a restaurant or on the stairs, happy to confirm their beauty and at the same time despising the cheapness of the glass which is incapable of reproducing it. Irene saw Tunda but did not recognize him…

    She lived a healthy and happy life, played golf, bathed by sandy beaches, had a rich husband, gave parties and attended them, belonged to charitable societies, and had a warm heart. But she did not recognize Tunda.

    … Tunda, thirty-two years of age, healthy and vigorous, a strong young man of diverse talents, stood on the Place de Madeleine, in the center of the capital of the world, without any idea what to do. He had no occupation, no desire, no hope, no ambition, and not even any self-love.

    No one in the whole world was as superfluous as he.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, jhNY, for those scintillating paragraphs about Joseph Roth, Franz, Irene, and Natasha! Dramatic, touching, and sad. Plus a killer of a last line.

      As you might remember, I finally read Roth on your recommendation a few months ago and was very impressed. I’m also impressed by Roth’s memory, as you describe it. He certainly couldn’t google things back then!

      I recall that Nabokov and his wife also lived in a hotel or hotels during the later years of their lives.

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      • There were still a few residential hotels around when I was a young man, but here, I think, their heyday was around the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. I always thought I’d like to live in one, were I single, but while they were still around, I was never single. And I doubt I could have afforded what they would cost, if they provided complete service. Perhaps my attraction to these places resided in the notion that there I would have no chores to do, and yet, clean sheets, hot meals and freshly polished shoes, should I set a pair outside my door when I turned in for the night.

        As a hoarder of books and trifles and recordings and…well, I probably was never really a suitable candidate for such arrangements, though I’ve stayed in hotel suites that were bigger than my NYC apartment…

        Even in translation, Roth reminds me, merely a reader, of the order of insight and delicacy and skill required to be first-rate at his profession, as Roth most certainly was.

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        • Yes, jhNY, some advantages (including service) and some disadvantages (including cost) to living in hotels. You described the pros and cons well.

          When I was a full-time journalist, I used to stay in hotels at company cost while covering conferences. Never sought a suite, but once in a while would get one automatically. Some were indeed huge, and way too luxurious for my psychic comfort.

          Joseph Roth is all you say, and I didn’t even read his best work — just the two novellas my local library happened to have.

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          • I have to put in my comments about my stop in Spain in 1969. We all loved the Prado (especially me), because it has the greatest collection of Spanish artworks that I love — Goya and El Greco. However, we did spend time in the museum there for a lunch, and one of my girlfriends was subjected to having her wine glass explode, though she was fine once we left there! But still it was the only place that we spent two days in.

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  4. Haven’t read all the comments as of yet. Very good insights into other books/same theme. Have added a few to my TBR list which is lengthy to say the least. My contribution as follows: I recently came across a biography of one Lev Nussimbaum, the most bizarre bio I’ve ever read, although I’ve not finished it. I lent it out to a friend to read for me, ha, to get his impressions while I concentrated on the TBR list I mentioned above. Anyhoo, the book is “The Orientalist” and as for locales: Baku, Germany, Russia, Austria, Turkey, and finally Italy. Here’s a link re: the novel
    https://jewishjournal.com/culture/arts/11185/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, SW!

      “The Orientalist” sounds like an absolutely fascinating biography — and that’s a LOT of locales.

      Your “TBR list..is lengthy to say the least” — I hear you. 🙂 😦

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  5. Hi Dave,

    Are we talking fictional locations as well this week? If so, then I must mention my favourite subject at the moment – George RR Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”. He’s done such a great job creating such a big, sprawling, diverse world. I love that the different places have different climates, and different cultures. Almost like a real world! Although Martin obviously didn’t have to research Westeros, he must have spent a huge amount of time creating something so detailed. (BTW, I didn’t miss a minute on Monday night 🙂 )

    I’m also reading the seventh volume of John Jakes’ “Kent Family Chronicles”. The series starts in France and England, but is solely set in the US after the beginning chapters. But it’s set in a LOT of the US. I’m not sure that I realised how different East is from West, or North from South, until I read Jakes’ work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Sue! Fictional locations work for me. 🙂

      From what I’ve read, “A Song of Ice and Fire” does go to MANY places — as does the TV version of it. I saw a New York Times article the other day that included talk about all the locations at which the filming took place.

      And thanks for the very relevant “Kent Family Chronicles” mention!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that link, Dave. Unfortunately, as I don’t have a subscription, I couldn’t read the entire article, but I can probably guess what it said. And I did goggle Bernadette Caulfield who seems to be an absolutely pivotal person behind the scenes of “GoT”.

        Being that it’s set in so many different parts of Westeros, I guess they would have to travel to a lot of different parts of the world just to make it look authentic. There’s only so many things you can achieve in a studio. Riding a fully grown dragon probably isn’t one of them 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oops — the NYT site has a paid wall. As you know, some paid newspaper sites (like The Washington Post one) allow non-subscribers to see a few full articles for free each month, but I guess the NYT site isn’t among them. Yes, Bernadette Caulfield seems to be one of those relatively low-profile (until this article) TV-production heroes!

          The story notes that “Game of Thrones” has a huge budget by cable-TV standards, so it definitely can afford that world travel to keep things looking authentic.

          “There’s only so many things you can achieve in a studio. Riding a fully grown dragon probably isn’t one of them” — ha! 🙂

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          • Hi Dave,

            No problem about the NYT site. Maybe I could have signed up for a temporary free subscription, but I already get so much junk mail that I’m reluctant to use my email address for things like this. Not that the NYT is junk. In fact, don’t you know someone who works there? 😉

            And yes, I imagine “GoT” has a bit of money to spend. It’s cost me $50 just to subscribe for the last season, and I’m sure I’m not on my own saying that I’m happy to pay it. Aside from the actual story, “GoT” is probably the best put together show I’ve ever watched. I guess just the size of the cast would cost a fortune. And that’s before you start thinking location, set design, costumes, etc. All of which are so varied, and so detailed. Aside from the dragons, and the dead dudes wandering around, it’s amazing how authentic it looks.

            I hope you and your family and the commenters here are all having a lovely Easter ❤

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hi Sue,

              Yes, we all get enough emails, don’t we? And — chuckle! — I think I do know someone who works for the NYT. 🙂

              Wow — you offered high praise for the “Game of Thrones” TV series! Not a surprise it’s so spectacularly popular. “Aside from the dragons, and the dead dudes wandering around, it’s amazing how authentic it looks” — great line. 🙂

              Wishing you a Happy Easter, too!

              Like

  6. Interesting blog post and comments! In the Holocaust novel, “We Were the Lucky Ones,” based on the family of author Georgia Hunter, characters live, travel, or are sent to many different locations. Those include Poland, France, Northern Africa, Italy, Siberia, and Brazil. The author did a wonderful job of clearly identifying who is situated where and when, exactly, that portion of the story is taking place.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just finished “I Was Anastasia,” a historical-fiction novel by Ariel Lawhon. It is a book about the last days of the family Romanov, which had a lot of jumping around in itself as they were moved from place to place as prisoners until their violent execution in 1918. In a parallel to that, this book also gives us the story of Anna Anderson, the woman who came forward in the 1920s and claimed to be the youngest daughter Anastasia. During her life, Anna was moved all over and many times between countries in Western Europe, then she went to the US, to Germany again, then back to the US. When she was in the US, the woman was moved between so many different cities and houses I started losing track. In addition to that, the timelines in the book move around a bit. The Romanov timeline, told through Anastasia’s POV, moves forward, while Anna’s timeline actually moves backward, until both timelines meet at the climax of the story – the execution of the family Romanov. Now, ordinarily, all that jumping around could so easily make me freak out hahaha. But Lawhon did a pretty darn good job keeping the reader drawn in. The second half especially got very intense and I couldn’t put the book down!

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  8. Not on-topic, except it pertains to milieu of reality:

    As we await the redacted Mueller report, I managed to complete a thought I had but half-formed before:

    The law is the creature of power.

    And we are a nation of laws.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yup, jhNY. Can’t disagree.

      If at least some people (in Congress?) can’t see an unredacted version of the Mueller Report, then this will be one of the most massive cover-ups ever. I would hope Mueller would spill some beans if he sees the full report suppressed, but, then again, he’s a Republican…

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  9. It all depends on how a novel passes through its multitude of milieus. Some flow and some leap. The ones that flow are typically journey stories that meander smoothly through time and space. Other novels leap back and forth through time and distance.

    One of my favorite journey novels is Lamb by the Christopher Moore. A satirical but respectful life of Christ and quite an enlightening one at that.

    It travels from Palestine through Afghanistan to India and back, sampling the culture and religion of the time (2,000 years ago).

    Moore gets it right, describing Afghanistan as Buddhist and aesthetic. Quite a change from present times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Almost Iowa! Very true that novels with many settings can either “flow” or “leap” from place to place. From your description, “Lamb” sounds like a great example of the former. And, yes, today’s Afghanistan doesn’t seem all that “Buddhist and aesthetic.”

      BTW, as you might know, James Michener’s “Caravans” is a terrific novel set in Afghanistan (during the 1940s).

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      • Dave, I don’t know if you’ve heard anything about the massive fire at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame this afternoon in Paris. I know you’re not religious, same as I am not, but it is such a work of art that it makes me sick to even think about. My girlfriends and I saw it in the evening and it was such a gorgeous view. I haven’t heard of any injuries or anything, but it just takes one’s breath away when seeing such a beautiful piece of art likely being destroyed.

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        • I have heard about it, Kat Lit. Terrible. I was just there literally a year ago, in April 2018. Though I’m not religious, it is a breathtakingly beautiful building, very old, and of course has associations with Victor Hugo’s memorable novel. Sickening. From the photos and footage I’ve seen today, the front seems to be safe, but a lot of damage to the middle and back. 😦 😦

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          • Yes, it seems to be a bit worse each time I hear anything, that they will most likely lose the entire Cathedral. Especially since most of the interior is made of wood. In one of those strange coincidences, I just pulled out my “The History of Art,” book and I was thinking it would take me forever to find Notre-Dame because the print in the index was so tiny I couldn’t read it. The whole volume is so big and heavy that I was ready to give up, but I happened to notice that there was a bookmark in it, and it took me immediately to Gothic Art, most specifically to the Chartres Cathedral as well as Notre-Dame. I was most worried about the Rose Window in Notre Dame, but I just heard that that’s going to be destroyed as well. I know people dying is tragic, but I feel the same about works of art, not in place of people, but anyone or thing that is in fire’s way.

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            • Can’t see how anything except possibly a bit of sculpture, will survive that inferno. The nickname for the interior? ‘The forest’, because there was so much wood, most of it many centuries old. Doubt any of the windows will make it either. A terrible tragedy all around, though I am happy to see no one was injured. From now on, the best way to see Notre Dame will be in books printed before 2019.

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              • I agree with you, and I still feel sick about it, not from a religious point of view but from an art perspective. When I traveled in England/Europe in 1969, I saw many great works of art and it’s difficult to name only a few. From the outside at night, then Notre Dame was the very best with the view on the Seine. My kitty just jumped on my lap to put in her vote for the very many views we’ve seen lately, but we all agree that Paris was the best! Bill makes me mad that he wants only to say how much he doesn’t like the French, and I finally have problems for even mentioning it.

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              • About the only good thing I can attach to my initial over-reaction is: more of the cathedral remains intact than I though possible while watching the fire in real time. The rose windows seem whole, though I suspect the lead joints may be compromised, and the sculpture looks as if, apart from cleaning, they survived without damage. The roof, of course is a total loss, as is the spire. Small consolation: despite it being iconic, the spire is a relatively late addition, dating to the 19th century.

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                  • Yes– the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna forced such thought on me when I happened on it in 1970– mosaics from the time of the late Roman Empire throughout, and incongruously, to my young eye, insignificant 18th century stuff also. Guess every age has its chance at decor…but thankfully, only a few partake.

                    Gothic stuff was a major preoccupation of 19th century folk– much of the inspiration for furniture and architecture derives from those times, so not surprisingly, Notre Dame enjoyed their attentions and ‘improvements’.

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        • This is so sad. From what I’ve heard though, I think the actual art work has been saved. Dave, what’s a little spooky is I was going to ask you if you’ve ever covered art in literature before this made it an almost on-topic question.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, Dave, because I can’t think of any books at the moment I’ll talk about my own “multitudes of milieus” as that might spark some good books I read along the way. I was born in TX (Dallas), then moved to OK (Pryor). We then moved to PA (West Chester) which is probably the longest I’ve lived anywhere), then to MN (Edina, then Minneapolis) I went to college in IA (Drake in Des Moines) transferring to University of Texas at Austin. In between those four years I traveled around England and Europe for 9 weeks. After college, back to Minneapolis, Bloomington (MN), then a short stay in Madison, WI. I was having trouble adjusting to the colder climes so when I was offered a job in GA (Atlanta), where I lived in three different places in the area), I grabbed it. I moved back to PA (West Chester), then VA (Manassas), MD (two different places near Baltimore), to NJ (Cherry Hill, then to Ocean City) After a short stay in FL (Boynton Beach), I finally returned to PA, where I’ve been ever since, though in various different towns (Pottstown, Malvern, Langhorne, Yardley, Morrisville, Wayne, Kennett Square, and now Pocono Lake). I know I’ve left out quite a few places that I stayed in briefly, but I’m already exhausted! Ha! And I don’t know if I came up with any character who has moved as much as I have. There are of course trips to CA, NC, ME, CO, etc. I’m not sure how I ended being such a vagabond. My parents had half of their address book devoted to my various abodes through the years, and I think my older siblings mostly gave up on trying to track me down. My biggest few lessons were (1) that it’s good to meet a lot of people from different parts of the country; and (2) it’s amazing how much you can put into a VW beetle!

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    • Thank you, Kat Lit! Loved your comment — including lessons 1 and 2 at the end! That’s an astonishing amount of relocating. Wow! A hassle to move so much, yet so many great experiences from living in numerous places.

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      • You can understand why my friends from elementary school couldn’t find me for any of the reunions, through the years until 2011 or so. I’m so excited to spend some time again with them, which will be here in about a month. The best thing was that my best friend from years ago, immediately clicked with me the moment we saw each other. We now talk on the phone several times a week, and she was our first visitor here, as well as me taking the longest drive I’ve done in years was to Durham, NC.

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        • I can definitely understand that, Kat Lit!

          And great that you and your best friend from years ago immediately clicked again. 🙂

          I look forward to hearing about your reunion next month!

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          • Thanks, Dave! We’re trying to get the house spiffed up, but we’re in good shape right now, thanks mainly to him. He’s put up small little lights all around in our sunroom, which looks great. I saw this at my best friend’s home deck in Durham (in the summer) and I felt that was such a nice homey touch.

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    • Thank you, Neil! Poe’s only novel, I think. A bit longer than a novella. It’s a strange, riveting book that supposedly was one of Herman Melville’s inspirations for “Moby-Dick,” which was published 13 years later (1851).

      Have a good week, too!

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      • Though the constant milieu beneath them is sea water, the crew of the Pequod travel quite a ways– from New Bedford MA to the Cape of Good Hope, to the Pacific, and along the equator– before being engulfed, utterly, in their milieu.

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  11. What comes to mind for me is Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Poisonwood Bible’ where a family starts in southern U.S. and packs up to live in the Congo for a year as missionaries. The adjustment to the new life (told through the eyes of the four daughters) is difficult, but when they return to the U.S. they see ‘home’ through a new lens. I loved this book. Great topic as usual, Dave!

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  12. Some great books here, Dave! Your mention of the Jack Reacher series reminded me of the John Milton thriller series, which I’ve recently been reading. Each book is set in a different location, sometimes several, from Juarez to Australia to Russia, plus multiple locations in the US and UK.

    I think I’ve mentioned my love of Amy Tan before. Her books often span continents as well as generations, with the characters traveling all over China before coming to the US.

    And these aren’t novels, but I have to mention them anyway since they’re personal favorites: “Full Tilt: From Ireland to India with a Bicycle” and “Miles from Nowhere” are both travelogues by intrepid female cyclists. The first is by Dervla Murphy, who cycled solo from Ireland to India, including across Afghanistan, in the early 60s. The second is about a couple (but written by the wife) who cycle around the world in the early 80s. Both very much worth reading, and a novelist would be accused of a wildly overactive imagination if they made up some of those adventures!

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    • Thank you, Elena! Wow — some serious travel in that John Milton series! And a great mention of Amy Tan’s novels.

      “Full Tilt: From Ireland to India with a Bicycle” and “Miles from Nowhere” sound like amazing books! Reminds me a bit of Tania Aebi’s “Maiden Voyage,” about her solo sailing trip around the world in her late teens/early 20s.

      Other nonfiction with lots of travel of course includes Mark Twain’s “The Innocents Abroad” (hilarious recounting of his trip to Europe and the Mideast) and John Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley” (uneven, but some terrific moments — and a terrific dog 🙂 ).

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      • “The Innocents Abroad” was one of my favorite books as an early teen! Right up there with “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” which is also a travel story of sorts, in that the main character is transported from 19th-century America to Arthurian Britain.

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        • Such a great book — one of the funniest I’ve ever read. And Twain did a LOT of travel on that trip at a time (the 1860s) when travel was not easy. Not that it’s easy today in other miserable ways…

          And, yes, a character can’t travel much further than going back or forward in time!

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            • He wasn’t even roughing it nearly so much as his fellows even when he was “Roughing It”, as he was, despite what he may have thought, hardly stuck with the prospects of prospecting, being better with a pencil than he could ever have been with a shovel. Far from the ore fields, though, in “Roughing It” he also recounts his experiences in Hawaii, touching and sad and funny and probably among the best descriptions of the people and the islands before being overrun by us.

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