Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Review: Novel Destinations

Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West

by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon
National Geographic, 2008
344 pages

So the economy is bad, your job security is questionable, and that trip to London and Bath is no longer in the cards for this summer. Why not browse the pages of Novel Destinations instead? It is surely the next best thing. If you aren’t overly concerned with the economy and have a trip planned, get your hands on this book and incorporate a literary landmark or two into your itinerary. Novel Destinations: Literary Landmark’s from Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West is a must read for both the seasoned traveler and the armchair adventurer.

The book is divided into two sections. Part One, entitled Travel by the Book, includes sections on writer’s homes and museums, literary festivals and tours, and literary places to "drink, dine, and doze". Locations both here in the US and abroad are featured. Part Two is titled Journey Between the Pages and focuses on ten specific literary destinations.

I wish I’d had this book before our trip to London and Bath last summer. We managed to hit most of the highlights in Bath (Jane Austen Centre, the Jane Austen walking tour, and lunch at the Pump Room), but who knew there was a Museum of Costume so nearby? In London though, we barely scratched the surface. This book has me convinced that another trip is definitely in order. Now if I can only sell it to my husband! It won't be possible this summer, but we could certainly visit Salem, Massachusetts to see Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables.

The only problem I have with this book is that it belongs to the library and must be returned. I will certainly be purchasing a copy of my own.
Thank you Book Psmith for bringing this book to my attention.


  1. Sounds wonderful. I always find literary guides fascinating and dream of visiting many places. A few weeks ago I bought The Oxford Literary Guide to England and Ireland, it's good to curl up with when the weather is poor.

  2. I have this book at home, and I've dipped in and out of it. I love the idea of planning an entire trip based on literary pursuits!

  3. Wonderful review. Seven Gables also made my list after reading this. Wasn't Hawthorne's bio fascinating? I was watching Rick Steves the other day and he had a segment on Joyce's tower...very cool. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Zetor -
    I think dreaming is half the fun with books like this!

    Lisa -
    I'd love to do entire literary trip! My oldest daughter would want to come along...not sure about the rest of the family though.

  5. BookPsmith -
    I would love to do a weekend trip to The House of the Seven Gables and other literary sights in Mass.

    Last summer we took a day trip to Edith Wharton's home (The Mount) in Lenox and continued on to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. We were probably the only people that visited that combination of attractions - lol! Thanks again for introducing me to this book.

  6. I'm so glad I picked this one up. I haven't had a chance to read it straight through but love browsing it.

  7. Tara,
    I think this is a book that is great both for browsing and reading. Haven't been to a bookstore to buy my own copy yet, but hope to over the weekend.

  8. I've had this book on my radar for a while - I'd love to add it to my shelf! It seems like something I'd pull out again and again.

    I'm going to be posting about Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House in the next week, is that listed in the book?

  9. Dawn,
    Yes, Louisa May Alcott's house is listed. I'll look forward to your post. This is a book I want to add to my collection, too!


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