- This is in answer to:
- Name a book you've read that had a strong setting. See all answers
- November 3, 2010 by assentia
- Location, Location, Location
Save a character, cast a city.
I'm not really into the modern chick-lit romance books, you know, the women's pulp fiction of the noughties. But how often do you find a book, regardless of genre or target audience, where the setting is so integral to the story that you couldn't pluck the plot out of it and set it somewhere else?
(Not to say that Hollywood wouldn't at least try to do just that. After all, it has reset The Italian Job in LA. Which, you know, is not in Italy.)
I Heart New York could have been a thinly veiled travel guide. In fact, there is a travel guide at the end, a few pages with some quirky choices that read like an insider's tip-off that you're not supposed to know but are happy that you do.
English girl flees to New York after a nasty breakup, makes friends with the hotel concierge, moves in with her, starts dating two hot guys (Wall Street high-flyer and indie rockstar), lands a blogging deal and a spot of fame for herself, but eventually has to come down to earth and decide what she really wants to do with the mess of her life... Go read if you want details or The End.
And all through the 300 or so pages, New York is another character. Under the pretext of guiding the newcomer around, we get to see the famous sights, shops, and restaurants as well as little known nooks which add to the flavour of a vibrant city that never sleeps, even if they are fictitious.
Granted, it's a sanitised version (New York is hardly devoid of crime, but nothing worse than being solicited in broad daylight because she's wearing a pair of hotpants happens to our heroine). But scenes like the first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty from Central Park, the quandaries at Starbucks (dating or blogging), or the conversation at the top of the Empire State Building make up for the clean-cut choice, because they avoid the travel guide trap by making it about Angela, not about any wannabe New Yorker reader.
I've already passed the book on to someone else, who I hope has enjoyed it as much as I did and kept it going.