Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.
This week’s topic is: Ten Books Set Outside The US
So many books are set in the US and I find it really annoying because I just want to read something different. I love reading books set in the UK and Europe and I’d love to read books that are set in other places too. I’m looking forward to reading other people’s posts on this topic so that I can find more books set outside the US.
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2005) – Set in Sweden
A murder mystery, family saga, love story, and a tale of financial intrigue wrapped into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.Harriet Vanger, scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.
2. The Monk by Matthew Lewis (1796) – Set in Madrid, Spain
Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in order to conceal his guilt.
3. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe (1794) – Set in France and Italy
A best-seller in its day and a potent influence on Sade, Poe, and other purveyors of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gothic horror, The Mysteries of Udolpho remains one of the most important works in the history of European fiction. After Emily St. Aubuert is imprisoned by her evil guardian, Count Montoni, in his gloomy medieval fortress in the Appenines, terror becomes the order of the day. With its dream-like plot and hallucinatory rendering of its characters’ psychological states, The Mysteries of Udolpho is a fascinating challenge to contemporary readers.
4. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks (1984) – Set in Scotland
Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank’s mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric’s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother’s inevitable return – an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.
5. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (1853) – Set in England and France
Lucy Snowe, in flight from an unhappy past, leaves England and finds work as a teacher in Madame Beck’s school in ‘Villette’. Strongly drawn to the fiery autocratic schoolmaster Monsieur Paul Emanuel, Lucy is compelled by Madame Beck’s jealous interference to assert her right to love and be loved.
Based in part on Charlotte Brontë’s experience in Brussels ten years earlier, Villette (1853) is a cogent and dramatic exploration of a woman’s response to the challenge of a constricting social environment. Its deployment of imagery comparable in power to that of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and its use of comedy–ironic or exuberant–in the service of an ultimately sombre vision, make Villette especially appealing to the modern reader.
6. The Night Manager by John le Carre (1993) – Set in Egypt, Switzerland, and the Bahamas
At the start of it all, Jonathan Pine is merely the night manager at a luxury hotel. But when a single attempt to pass on information to the British authorities – about an international businessman at the hotel with suspicious dealings – backfires terribly, and people close to Pine begin to die, he commits himself to a battle against powerful forces he cannot begin to imagine.
In a chilling tale of corrupt intelligence agencies, billion-dollar price tags and the truth of the brutal arms trade, John le Carré creates a claustrophobic world in which no one can be trusted.
7. The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle (1890) – Set in England
‘You are a wronged woman and shall have justice. Do not bring police. If you do, all will be in vain. Your unknown friend.’ When a beautiful young woman is sent a letter inviting her to a sinister assignation, she immediately seeks the advice of the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. For this is not the first mysterious item Mary Marston has received in the post. Every year for the last six years an anonymous benefactor has sent her a large lustrous pearl. Now it appears the sender of the pearls would like to meet her to right a wrong. But when Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson, aiding Miss Marston, attend the assignation, they embark on a dark and mysterious adventure involving a one-legged ruffian, some hidden treasure, deadly poison darts and a thrilling race along the River Thames.
8. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (1990) – Set in England
The world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday. Just before dinner, according to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies written in 1655. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist.
9. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster (1908) – Set in England and Italy
Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Bertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr Emerson and, most of all, his passionate son George.
Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Edwardian England, personified in her terminally dull fiancé Cecil Vyse. Will she ever learn to follow her own heart?
10. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004) – Set in England, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England–until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.
Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.
I tried to list both classics and newer books since there aren’t many classics set in the US (unless they’re US classics like The Scarlet Letter etc.). However, many new YA books are set in the US or in a fantasy world and so YA is missing from this list.