Sunday, 03 July 2022

Places that are just like the book

Peter Fiennes
Henley town hall

IF you’ve ever visited a certain spot and exclaimed, ‘Oh, it’s just like the book’, then you’re not alone.

Our views and opinions of places are hugely influenced by literature and writers most certainly have their favourite places to write about.

Peter Fiennes took his audience on a most enjoyable journey around the country in the company of some fabulous authors, taking the reader through history — from Gerald of Wales to Beryl Bainbridge — and the hour spent in his company was a joy.

Fiennes says he’s trying to decide whether life is better or worse now, for us and for the natural world.

He imagines his pick of writers, who include the likes of Enid Blyton and Wilkie Collins, in the modern world and wonders what they would find different.

Fiennes reads evocative descriptions of the past but is also clear-eyed about the advances that have been made since those times.

Celia Fiennes, the intrepid traveller of the 1700s, wrote that “travel broadens the mind” — but even then, those who travelled changed the world as they travelled through it, and the same is true now.

Fiennes’s book Footnotes — A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers is such a delightful read.

You learn about the writers themselves, the country then and now, and also Fiennes’s own experiences as he followed in their footsteps.

This event, just like the book, was a glorious mix of nostalgia, humour and the kind of facts that you absolutely know will lodge themselves in your brain for years to come.

Tamryn Settle

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