I was looking for a different type of holiday earlier this year, a literary holiday. I wanted to see what was on offer so I took a look on the internet. I have seen a few in the past, but abroad. When I looked in January the ones that I found were really expensive for just a few days, so I decided to do my own.
I spoke to some of my friends who are avid readers to see what their response would be, and they were very enthusiastic and thought it was a lovely idea.
I started looking into locations. There are a lot to choose from in the British Isles, some very obvious like Haworth for the Brontes (which we have already visited), and others less obvious if you use your imagination. I wanted an area we were less familiar with or we hadn't visited extensively before, with some nice countryside, and a literary connection, either to an author or a novel, or both.
After scouting for accomodation, and also other things to do (we don't want to be literaried out!) Hampshire, the home of Jane Austen won for our first Novel Holiday.
Going for a week, later in the year, we have agreed to read 2 books to discuss while away, one a Jane Austen naturally, and another contemporary novel, just to mix it up a bit. I already had a copy of Emma to read and nobody else had read it, so that was easily settled. Emma it was.
The second novel was more tricky, and it felt quite a responsibility to pick, not necessarily a likeable book, not too heavy or too easy, but interesting enough for people to want to read it and provide discussion material on our holiday. I settled on The Blue Fox by Sjon. I have heard quite a bit about it on the blogs, lots of interesting reviews and recommendations, and it seemed to offer something for everyone, plus it is not too long.
There are four of us, and we have a lovely wooden chalet in the New Forest itself. There are lots of Jane Austen locations to visit nearby, where she lived, the areas that influenced her, and Winchester cathedral where she is buried. There is also the forest, the coast and lots of other things to do. It is a while off yet but I am really looking forward to it.
If it goes well this year there may well be scope for doing other locations in the future. Anyway, I am about a third the way through Emma, and really enjoying it, so I had better get back to it.