Regular readers of my blog will know that ‘place’ is an important source of inspiration for me, and is also a key element of my writing. I love researching settings for my novels – reading countless books on customs and legends and architecture and history and flora and fauna, and visiting places to get a feel for them myself wherever possible. In Burning Embers, I really wanted readers to get a sense of Kenya, from the rich colours and heady scents in the air to the wild landscapes and the tempestuous storms.
I’ve recently watched a few films set in England, and they got me thinking about the romanticism of that setting. I grew up in the Mediterranean, and when I first came to England as a young woman, I found it to be a very different place to my home country, which is dusty and hot, not verdant and wet. But oh, how beautiful it can be. The patchwork carpet of fields in every autumnal colour imaginable stretching out beneath your plane as it comes into land. The white cliffs of Dover near my home that tower magnificently above the grey crashing waves. The rabbits frolicking in the paddock, and the ducks chatting raucously on the pond. The afternoon teas with scones and sandwiches. The churches and castles and museums and quaint curiosity shops. The Royal Family. Wimbledon. Shows in London’s West End. The country that I now call home for half of the year, when I am not in France, is indeed an inspiring place.
For those of you who, like me, have a soft spot for England, here are a selection of films I recommend watching that I think encapsulate the romanticism of England best expressed by John Keats:
Happy is England! I could be content
To see no other verdure than its own;
To feel no other breezes than are blown
Through its tall woods with high romances blent:
- Bridget Jones’s Diary
- Four Weddings and a Funeral
- Love Actually
- Notting Hill
- Pride and Prejudice
- Sense and Sensibility
- Sliding Doors
- The Holiday
- The Wedding Date
If you’re feeling brave, also take a look at Woody Allen’s film Match Point, which has a wonderful sense of setting – but be warned, this isn’t a happy romance!
And on the subject of settings, do check out ‘Famous Writers’ Retreats: The Rooms Where Classics Were Created’, especially the writing rooms of Keats, Beatrix Potter, Virginia Woolf, Roald Dahl and – most amazing of all for its tiny proportions – Robert Stephen Hawker.