Beaches and bikinis or eco-tourism and zip lines? Europe and castles or Africa and wild animals? I am planning a vacation and I am struck and disappointed with the common place offerings. Been there, done that and have the t-shirt to prove it, or need a bank loan to even attempt it, seem to be my only options. Books have always been my respite, my instant holiday, and author Jasper Fforde extrapolates some new vacation destinations I would book right now! In Fforde’s Thursday Next series (book 1- The Eyre Affair ), his heroine is a LiteraTec or a literary detective able to jump into works of fiction when a problem needs to be solved, like when Rochester is AWOL from “Jane Eyre.” Can you imagine this kind of travel? Where would you go?
I would definitely visit Hogwart’s and Harry Potter’s England. I want to try a chocolate frog, ride a broom and bask in Rowling’s cleverness. In Fforde’s books, the text of the book is resolute. Thursday Next interacts with the characters but her actions do not affect or feature in the text. Thursday also finds that the characters in novels are self aware, knowing they are in a book. They make comments stating they are not needed until page ''such and such,'' rather like actors in a play, and thus have time to help and chat with Thursday. Can you imagine looking deep into Darcy ’s eyes or discoursing with Elizabeth Bennett in the garden?
I just want to visit and see the sights, not stay and live like Gabaldon’s Claire in “ The Outlander .” I love the Bard with an unseemly passion. I would enjoy an idyll in that Athenian wood while fairies cause mischief. If I could turn off my nose, I would stride through Shakespeare’s England. If I were not so interested in self preservation, I would absolutely love to visit Manderley (though hopefully while Ms. Danvers is out). My cowardliness also takes visits to “ Cold Mountain ,” “ Sherlock Holmes ” and Gaiman’s “ Neverwhere ” off of the itinerary. I can easily decline trips to Galt’s Gulch, any of King’s Maine hamlets or Lake Wobegon. Middle Earth seems awfully dangerous. I have no need to hunt the white whale aboard the Pequod or ride that sad train with Anna Karenina . While some of you may yearn for a simpler time; residing in Norland Park dining with the Dashwoods or summering in “ Robinson Crusoe ” working on your tan. Not me. When I think of a simpler time, I think of six hours to make breakfast, pterodactyl-size bugs and laundry with rocks in streams. This is a vacation, remember! At least, “book” a trip in a novel with servants!
Avonlea calls to me, as do River Heights and the Paris of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “ Babylon Revisited .” I could see myself sipping sweet tea on a covered porch in Yoknapatawpha County. I think I could just get by in Oz . I find that there are many children’s books I would like to visit with their lush worlds and fantastic creations. I want to sit on the swing in “ The Secret Garden ” and visit Green Knowe . Would I help Huck and Jim? Could I find a land in the back of an old wardrobe? I am not sure I would follow that rabbit down the hole knowing what I know now. Alas and alack, I can only visit real places so I will pick up one of my favorite novels and imagine myself there.