This week is Book Week, right across Australia – a fact you’ll probably be painfully aware of if you have kids who need to be shoved into book-related costumes. The theme this year is ‘Escape to Everywhere’ and it got me thinking about the places (fictional and real) that I like to escape to regularly through my reading.
You may not have heard of it, but this island in the English Channel has a rich history. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society covers a part of its history throughout the Second World War and brings the tiny island’s community to life in one of the loveliest stories I have ever read. Every time I read this book I fall in love with the people and the island, all over again. Despite the island feeling the effects of the war deeply, it’s one of my favourite places to curl up and visit when I get the chance.
Prince Edward Island
This is a no-brainer. If you’ve ever read Anne of Green Gables or any of its sequels, you will have felt the attachment to Prince Edward Island. L.M. Montgomery brings everything in Avonlea to life so vibrantly. You can see the Lake of Shining Waters and Lover’s Lane so clearly – it is amazing how at home I feel when I re-read Anne’s story, despite never having visited the real place.
I visit Longbourn, Netherfield and Meryton so regularly it feels like I actually live there. I love returning to the places Elizabeth Bennet likes to walk through and I love the feeling that everyone knows each other. Again, I’ve never been to any part of Hertfordshire, but opening up the pages to Pride and Prejudice feels like I’m walking through the doors at Longbourn, home again.
No one actually wants to go to Giant Country, I should hope – especially not while the Giants are still there. But I would say now that the BFG got rid of them all, it should be okay to visit. I was always fascinated by the BFG’s cave (I actually secretly always wanted to live in a cave) and to be quite honest, I would just love to travel to Giant Country with the BFG; leaping over the landscape incredibly fast sounds like a fantastic adventure.
The castle alone would be enough to make me want to revisit this story every year – there’s always something around the corner, the staircases change, ghosts are walking through walls and the portraits are moving. It’s a crazy place and I will never understand how anyone can concentrate on their education in such a wonderful place. Not only that, but it’s generally understood that Hogwarts is located somewhere in Scotland (I would suggest NOT looking up people’s essays about where they think Hogwarts is really located – it’s a deep, deep rabbit hole and you’ll find it very difficult to get out). If you’ve ever been to Scotland, you’ll agree that there is a certain kind of magic in the air – even for muggles.
Ashbury and Brookfield, Sydney
This one is almost literally in my backyard. Set around the Castle Hill area of Sydney, the Ashbury/Brookfield saga by Jaclyn Moriarty will always be one of my favourite places to escape, even though I could actually go to the area at any point, I will always choose the books. I love the way you get to know so many of the students at the two schools, you almost feel like you go to either Ashbury High or Brookfield High. Between these two and Hogwarts, I definitely spent more time in fictional schools in my youth than I did in my actual school. And, unlike my own school, I willingly return to these regularly.
Where do you like to escape to?