Tag Archives: Meredith Duran

Traveling through novels

View over Jodhpur from the fort

View over Jodhpur from the fort

First off, I’m really sorry for the two-week silence on the blog. One of my colleagues went to Pakistan for a month to help get relief supplies to people displaced by the floods, and I took on a lot of her normal work, so I haven’t had much time to do anything else. (Fortunately she’s returned safely and brought me a beautiful pashmina as a thank-you. This should be made organizational policy.)

Since I’ve been working so much, my imagination has been doing a lot of traveling. Fortunately, my body will be able to follow my imagination soon. My husband and I are planning a trip to Japan, and when we booked our tickets one of my first thoughts was that I need to read some novels set there.

I’m a big fan of learning about a country’s history by reading novels. Last year, before going to Delhi and Rajasthan, I read a couple of romance novels set in 19th century India. Meredith Duran’s The Duke of Shadows intrigued me so much that I spent hours researching what was true and what was artistic license. When I was in India walking around museum exhibitions describing the 1857 uprising against the British (which forms the backdrop of the novel), I was better able to picture the types of weapons used, the clothing the combatants wore, and the terror the people involved would have felt.

Of course, novels are novels, not non-fiction. So while they do a fantastic job of bringing historical events to life, you also need to be aware that their authors often use history as a jumping off point for their story.

Udaipur City Palace

Udaipur City Palace

For example, in The Duke of Shadows a pivotal scene is set at Sapnagar Fort, a fictional place based on three different locations: Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, Amber Fort in Jaipur, and the City Palace in Udaipur. I was fortunate enough to visit all three, and arriving with a small sense of the history surrounding this part of India made me all the more eager to learn more while I was there.

Do novels form part of your trip preparations? Or have you ever been so inspired by a novel’s setting that you decided to go there? Can you recommend any fantastic novels set in Japan?

Photos by me

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Romance comes to City of London…libraries

You’ve probably heard me complain before about the lack of romance in London. Of course, I’m not talking about the nooks and crannies where lovers can tuck themselves away for a bit of kissing (yeah, I’ve never really done it either), but the dearth of romance novels available to buy.

If you go into most bookstores – even big chain stores – you’ll find loads of chick lit, plus Nora Roberts and Julia Quinn. Most stores don’t even have a romance section. Amazon.co.uk has quite a few romance novels, but I often have to order from the US and pay extra for shipping.

That’s why I love the City of London libraries. For those of you unfamiliar with London, the City is the financial district. It’s not that big an area, but it’s got several fantastic libraries. The problem is that I’ve nearly exhausted their supply of romance novels, and, if I’m honest, I’d have to say that lots of what they call romance is actually chick lit or just rubbish.

So a few weeks ago I emailed them to suggest a long list of books I thought they should own. The assistant director got back to me today to say most of my list was either out of print (the real classics of the genre) or didn’t have a UK distributor (and here I was hoping libraries had a way around the problems I’ve faced!).

But they were able to order about a third of the novels on my list. So I thought I’d post them here, in case you’re reading this in London and want to read a terrific romance novel. Granted, some of these I haven’t read, and at least one is yet to be published, but they’re by authors who rock my socks off and have gotten great reviews.

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