If you’re one of those faced with a summer of erratic British weather, an endless stream of friends’ holiday snaps on your Facebook newsfeed and only a very slight chance of getting a tan, why not delve in to some of the best exotically located novels? Be transported to a land of sun, sea, gorgeous landscapes and intriguing characters – without the bother of having to pack.
The Beach – Alex Garland
The Beach follows the adventures of backpacker Richard in Thailand as he attempts to find his own slice of paradise in a world increasingly corrupted by Western commercialism. Not only an exciting and gripping adventure, and a glimpse in to one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but Garland explores deeper issues to do with disillusionment in society and the capabilities of human nature.
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Well known for its recent movie adaptation, this is the epic and mind-boggling tale of Pi Patel, stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean for 127 days with a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck. Despite being largely set at sea, the first part of the book follows Pi’s upbringing in India’s Pondicherry, and his spiritual journey through Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. A book like no other, Life of Pi is the perfect escapist novel.
Beneath a Marble Sky – John Shors
A majestic story of wealth, power, cruelty, revenge and love, is set against the magnificent backdrop of the building of the Taj Mahal in 17th century India. Princess Jahanara relates her struggle as a repressed female in a male dominated society, and the manipulative court intrigues which surround the completion of the building. Cruel and captivating, Beneath a Marble Sky is a hidden jewel of a novel.
Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys
A prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s famous Jane Eyre, but the novel couldn’t be further away from the Victorian English society portrayed in the canonical classic. Rhys tells the story of Bertha, the ‘Madwoman in the Attic’ figure, and her past life in the tropical climate of Jamaica before her marriage to Rochester and his brutal treatment of her. A post-colonial novel that explores racial and gender inequality, the story is a shocking but captivating tale of corrupted Jamaican life.
A Passage to India – E.M. Forster
A Passage to India relates the travels of two British women in colonial India, and the scandal that is created following a mysterious incident between the pair and their respected Indian guide, Dr Aziz. The conflict that ensues encapsulates the racial tensions between the native Indians and the ruling British colonisers in the country, set against a background of authentic Indian culture and landscape.