I have had a busy and exciting couple of months. July brought me a gorgeous new granddaughter whose name is Florence. Of course, that got me thinking about ‘Florences’ in literature, but apart from Florence Dombey in Dickens’s Dombey and Son (not one of my greatest favourites amongst his novels), I am struggling to come up with others. Do send me other examples if you can think of any? I like to give my grandchildren a book that connects with their name, so I think the beautiful new arrival might be getting a copy of A Room with a View, which is set in the magnificent city of Florence (my Reader’s Guide is here). And perhaps a children’s book about the great Florence Nightingale would also be appropriate (did you know that Florence Nightingale was also an essayist? She wrote a work called Cassandra in which she railed against the pointless lives Victorian women were expected to lead).
June and July took me travelling. It was sheer bliss to be back in England and to have time with family whom I had not seen for far too long. Then it was off to France, staying in a chateau with extended family and enjoying the fields of sunflowers and the glories of the French countryside. After three years of no overseas travel, it was so wonderful to be back in Europe. The photo above is me with my dad (far left) and just a few members of my family in France.
Of course, I sought out lots of literary places on my travels – the lovely home of George Sand (featured as one of my Top Ten places in Literary France – (you may like to watch the illustrated video talk in which it features), seeing the statues of Cyrano de Bergerac in Bergerac, finally making the pilgrimage to Dylan Thomas’s Laugharne, and much more.
A holiday read was the excellent Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape by Patrick Laurie, about life on a Scottish Borders farm breeding Galloway cattle.
Next year I’ll be leading a literary tour to Scotland, one of my favourite countries, and we’ll spend time in the Borders. To learn more about that tour, you might like to watch this short talk or this one about my 2023 literary tour in Scandinavia.
And there has been a Jane Austen Society conference, the first one in some years. It was so good to feel that life is returning to normal again and to be able to enjoy a literary event that was booked out.
I have more travels to look forward to throughout the year, and of course a vast pile of books I’d love to get through. I hope you too are able to travel overseas again and are settling into a more normal way of life after the horrors of the Covid years.
Susannah Fullerton: The Banks and Braes of Literary Scotland 2023
Susannah Fullerton: Once upon a time in Scandinavia: A Literary Tour of Sweden, Denmark and Norway 2023
Susannah Fullerton: E.M. Forster & A Room with a View
Susannah Fullerton: Literary France – Susannah’s Top Ten Places to Visit, a video talk