Have you ever read a book where the setting is so--I was going to say well described, but that isn't even it. Made so completely real --that you feel like you are there?
The first time I really became aware of being aware of this was a number of years ago when I picked up a mystery--my genre of choice--at the library. The author was Corrine Holt Sawyer and the title may have been Murder in Black and White. As I read I had a sense of deja vu. The names may have been changed, but this story was taking place in my home town. The characters were residents of the retirement home there overlooking the Pacific. The trails that led down to the beach were there. I was walking into town with them. The commuter train that went through was there.
I took a copy to my mother the next time I visited. (I got the love of mysteries from her, so there was no problem persuading her to tackle a new author.) She still lived in that hometown, and as she read, she would break out laughing. Not only was the setting so real, she could identify the characters -- the REAL characters--that the book characters were based on. Now, the author lived on the opposite coast, and nowhere in her biography is there a hint that she had lived at any time in my home town. How did she get it so exactly--so real?
That can sure creep you out.
G. M. Ford can also bring the Seattle setting alive. I'm currently rereading one of his books in which a lot of the action takes place in a historic upscale hotel. The name is changed, but we know where we are! His character knows the ins and outs of the city because his dad was once the mayor. But a lot of his friends, whom he usese for surveilence, come from the homeless population.
The settings don't even have to be real places in order to take you there. or take you to a place you know. Reading or watching one of the Harry Potter stories takes my husband back to his boarding school--which he claims was just like Hogwarts minus the ghosts and wizarding.
And don't you just want to bike down Ittibittiwassee Road with Jim Qwilleran and discuss his latest column in the Moose County Something over a squnk water at Tipsy's? (Lillian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who...series)
As we get ready for a trip to Scotland, England, and Wales this summer, I am looking forward to some of the locations in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, wandering through James Herriot's Yorkshire, a visit to Shrewsbury Abbey where Brother Cadfael tended the gardens (I had read them all before they appeared on PBS.) and a sight of the moors where Sherlock Holmes tracked the Hound of the Baskervilles.
What books have brought places alive for you?