Sometimes you put a book down late at night after a long reading session and you can still “see” it, see the landscape or the building or the room so clearly in your mind. And it’s then that you know the setting has received the perfect amount of consideration and construction by the author.
Yes, setting is as important to a novel as the characters. Whether a subtle backdrop or vivid as if part of the cast it supports and enhances the plot; it allows the characters’ strengths and flaws to take centre stage.
We discovered this last year when locations from our year’s reading seemed imprinted on our brains as if memories. The Bulgaria of East of the West, its lush countryside, flowing rivers and ancient architecture won’t leave us and the many and varied concepts of Venice in Invisible Cities is etched like artwork in our recall.
2018 is brimming with equally enticing fictional settings that intrigued us before we even started reading: the fictional reality of Oryx & Crake, the mountain villages of Nepal, and Jack Kerouac’s many visited locales.
How will they influence our opinion of said books once read? This varied assemblage of settings and locations, ready to delve into, to consider as an alternative reality to our own as we traverse across our own varied and breathtaking region to attend bookclub meets. No, we are not neighbourhood pals in the Free Range Bookclub, we are scattered throughout the Nelson/Tasman region, inciting travel and change of location for every meet. We must become accustomed to changes in our own settings to delve into the mystery of fictional ones!
This year there will be an added setting for bookclub meets as we welcome a new freeranger, the lovely Jodie. Another avid reader, another home, another place in which to assemble, where the scene has been set to encourage our eager and fruitful discussions about setting, location and personalities as we embrace our own.
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Oryx & Crake – Margaret Atwood
Breakfast At Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
When I Hit You: Or A Portrait Of The Writer As A Young Wife – Meena Kandasamy
Five Sons & A Hundred Muri of Rice – Sharyn Steel & Zoe Dryden
I, Capture The Castle – Dodie Smith
The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
The Nine-Chambered Heart – Janice Pariat
The Bridge of San Luis Rey – Thornton Wilder
Pachinko – Min Jin Lee