Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bakewell vs the Finchley Road

Jonathan Franzen, writing in the Guardian Review yesterday, mentioned some of the questions that readers ask him that he finds annoying. That made me think. One of the comments or questions that I find annoying is about where my novels are set.

Plotting for Beginners and But I told you last year that I loved you are both set in a village near Bakewell, and Zuzu’s Petals is set in Sheffield and Wensleydale. The book I am working on with Jane Linfoot right now  - Plotting for Grown-ups – is also set near Bakewell.

“Do you think,” some people say, “that people who don’t live near Bakewell will like the books?” 

And I snap at these people – some of who are friends -  or I say through gritted teeth, “A book has to be set SOMEWHERE, doesn’t it?”

A lot of Mary Wesley’s books are set in the West Country. I don’t know Cornwall: how does that spoil my enjoyment of her novel Part of the Furniture, which is (mostly) set on a Cornish farm? It doesn’t. 

I read contemporary novels all the time that are set in London – When We Were Bad by Charlotte Mendelson, for example - and I don’t know London. Why is it any more valid for a book to be set in London than in the Peak District?

Anyway, Bakewell is so much prettier than London…

The river Wye in Bakewell



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