This week's BTT topic:
Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live?
Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?
What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?
Great subject. Volumes, obviously, could be written about it. But I'll try to keep my thoughts brief. Well, relatively brief.
Taking the last question first: If I were a character in a work of fiction (and sometimes I feel exactly like that), I'm not sure I'd trust any author with my life. Writers are notorious for their erratic behavior when it comes to the characters they create – dropping them out of the narrative with great abandon, or killing them off for fun or profit. I don't think any of them are to be trusted completely. If you wake up one morning and find you've turned into a character in a book, watch out!
And as for worlds in books I'd like to inhabit – well, I can't think of many. Here again, most writers are best at coming up with worlds I definitely would not want to live in – like Lewis Carroll's Wonderland (absolutely overflowing with thoroughly nasty types), or Tolkien's Middle Earth (too many hellish surprises and talking trees), or the constantly-at-war world of Orwell's 1984 (too much like our own).
I can really only think of a handful of fictional worlds I'd like to spend a lot of time in – although I'm not sure I'd actually want to live in any of them. One would be The Hundred Acre Wood in A.A. Milne's books about Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. It's always sunny, and everyone is pleasant and friendly, and just about the worst thing that ever happens is Pooh not getting his fill of honey. And I'd really love to play with Piglet.
I wouldn't mind visiting the world of Jane Austen, if I could be an aristocrat – wouldn't want to have to live in the 19th Century as one of your garden variety middle-class nobodies. I have enough trouble getting the housework and the laundry done in the present day. And Barsetshire would be another interesting place to see – but I'd prefer the Barsetshire of Angela Thirkell to that of Anthony Trollope. Much more amusing, and without all the whalebone corsets.
I think all the other worlds I'd like to be able to hang out in come from the many mystery novels I've read. Of course, they're fairly dangerous worlds – but, if you can ignore all those nasty little murders that keep cropping up, they all seem like such fascinating places. St. Mary Mead, for instance, from Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books, or Hazel Holt's Taviscombe from her Mrs. Malory mysteries. And then there's Midsomer County, the setting for Caroline Graham's series of Inspector Barnaby novels. (At least some of which, I understand, is based on the actual county of Buckinghamshire. See On the Trail of Midsomer Murders.)
And then there's the Oxford of the Inspector Morse books by Colin Dexter, but Oxford is a real place so it doesn't really count. Although if the real Oxford had as many murders going on as Dexter's fictional city does, they'd be hip-deep in dead bodies most of the time.
It's interesting, I think, that all my favorite fictional worlds are in England. I guess it's just those ancient genes trying to get back home.