A-Z literary trail across Europe...

Follow us across the great continent of Europe as we navigate the lands and seas, from war torn lands to mediterranean climates; discover history captured through the stories of the people.

Inspired by this wonderful thread created by sonjadog, we've strung together this A-Z of European literature as suggested by you.

Just like brokenshoe, we didn't want the thread 'to pfft' and be lost to the archives of Mumsnet Talk so we took your recommendations and made them into a handy guide for all to share, hurrah.

 austria

 

 

Albania

the_siege

 

  

A moutainous landscape sitting upon the adriatic. Delve into The Siege by Ismail Kadare; set in the early 15th Century, it tells the story of the country's determination to stand against the onslaught of the Ottoman Empire. 

 

 

 

Austria   

Beware_of_Pity

 

 

 

Prisitine lakes set against verdant hills and a history marked by the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Stefan Zweig's Beware of Pity tells the story of an Austrian lieutenant caught in a web of moral duty as his political world faces collapse.  

 

 

Belgium

sorrow_of_belgium

 

 

 

Belgium's heart is captured through Hugo Claus' The Sorrow of Belgium. This classic depicts Flemish society during World War II and is considered a stylistic and poetic masterpiece by many. 

 

  

Bosnia

saravejo_malboro

 

 

  

Dip into journalist Milenko Jergovic's Sarajevo Marboro, a collection of short stories which share an acute and nostalgic insight into the daily lives of the people of Sarajevo as their world was interrupted by the Bosnian War.   

 

 

Croatia 

How_we_survived_communism_and_even_laughed

 

 

The Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulic presents a brilliant exploration of life in Eastern Europe after the reign of Communism. How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed focuses on the changing fashions and restrictions imposed by the aforementioned movement, it is particularly interested in examining the effects on the women who lived through the time.

  

Denmark & Greenland 

 

 

Miss Smila’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeeg is set in snowy Copenhagen and is a gripping Scandinavian thriller following the death of a young child from a rooftop. Interestingly, Hoeeg depicts the sometimes hostile and somewhat complicated relationship between Denmark and Greenland through his classic. 

 

germany 

Estonia 

Purge

 

 

A harrowing portrayal of the trials and tribulations faced by the Estonians in the build up to the Second World War and through the reign of The Soviet Union; Purge, by Sofi Oksanen follows the story of two Estonian woman, who carry ghosts from their past into the present.

  

Finland 

 

 summer_book

The Summer Book by Tove Jannson is an uplifting familial tale which is set on a remote island. It epitomizes family life of the Finnish and will have you lost amongst Finland's beautifully picturesque landscapes which it paints so well.

 

 

  

 

madame_bovary
France

 

 

Gustave Flaubert's notoriously voyeuristic classic Madame Bovary really is a must-read if you're visiting France. It's a meticulous portrayal of provincial life and is satirical in its outlook upon the French bourgeois society of the time. Who could pass up a chance to meet with the lascivious Emma Bovary?

 

  

Germany

grimm_Tales

 

 

The Grimm's Fairy Tales written by Jacob and Wilheim Grimm, is a treasure trove of classic stories collected by the brothers as they set out to preserve both the roots of the German language as well as the German tradition of storytelling.

In doing so they were attempting to build and immortalize a sense of cultural identity after the chaos of war had bemuddled and dissolved any sense of nationalism. Revisions of the collection made the stories more child-friendly; you can experience the delicious violence of the original tales in Philip Pullman's rewriting. 

 

greece_700 

Greece
the_odyssey

 

 

No story gives you as great a sense of the Ancient Greek legacy as Homer's The Odyssey. After following Odysseus' 10 year journey back home after the Trojan war, you'll experience a tingle of adventure as you look upon the blue eyes of the mediterranean sea. Paperclip2 says 'there is a very good audiobook of the Odyssey read by Ian McKellen' for those of you who are put off by the length of this book.

   

Holland

The_Hiding_Place

 

 

The Diary of Anne Frank is the most well-known go-to when reading about the accounts of the Nazi occupation of Holland. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom however is a startingly poignant and spiritual account of how a Dutch family, The Ten Booms, acted selflessly to protect their Jewish neighbours from persecution. It considers the endless stretch of faith in God that individuals may hold even as they are met with horrific blows of inhumanity.   

 

Hungary 

Embers

 

 

Find yourself under the shadows of the Carpathian Mountains as you read Embers by Sandor Marai. The Hungarian novelist's story centres around a reunion between a General and his lost friend after forty-one years of separation.  

 

 

Iceland 

 

 

You'll find a glimpse into Icelandic life by reading dark tale Einar Mar Gumundsson's Angels of the Universe. It explores the story of Paul, a man battling to hold on to reality as he struggles with Schizophrenia. 

 

Ireland

The_Dubliners

 

 

 

Nobody paints a more realistic and sharp picture of Dublin life than James Joyce in his collection of stories The Dubliners. You'll find Irish culture embedded between every line in this stark unveiling of a cast of characters from different walks of life. 

  

  

Italy
The_Art_Of_Joy

 

 

Taste the decadence of Italian culture through Goliarda Sapienza's Sicilian novel The Art Of Joy. It follows the story of Modesta, an orphaned village girl who is brought up in a convent but craftily manages to escape and pursues a life of hedonism. 

 

 

Lithuania

between_shades_of_gray

 

 

The occupation of Lithuania by The Soviet Union and the regime of Stalin lead to much upheaval for the families who resided in this country. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys is the written from the perspective of Linda, a young Lithuanian girl, who is forced to leave her country and is taken to a Labour camp in Siberia. 

 

 

Norway 

The_solitaire_mystery

 

 

Norweigan writer Jostein Gaarder presents his philosophical and mystical story The Solitaire Mystery; twelve-year-old Hans Thomas is swallowed by a world of magic and puzzling curiosities as he takes a road trip with his father.

 

 

 

poland 

Poland 

 

 

Read The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman; a timeless piece of writing that recounts the survival of one individual through the reign of the Nazis in Warsaw.

 

 

Portugal 

Blindness

 

 

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Portugese author Jose Saramago presents an intriguing story through his novel Blindness; as blindness spreads throughout the city we witness the effects it has on a once civilized society.

 

 

 

Romania

BuryingTheTypewriter

 

 

Through Carmen Bugan's Burying the Typewriter discover how life changed for the people under Ceausescu's Romania as Carmen recounts her own series events, from the disappearance of her father, to having to live 'under the eye of the Secret Police'.

 

Russia 

 

 

doctor_zhivagoRussia's history is encapsulated through Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago; a love story lost amid the workings of a revolution. 

 

 

 

 

 

Serbia 

 

 

Lose yourself in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia as the Serbo-Croat war is about to unfold; In the hold by Vladimir Arsenijevic is a coming of age novel that is not to be missed.

 

spain

Spain  

Requiem_for_a_Spanish_peasant

 

 

See and learn of the Spanish Civil war through the musings of one priest Mosen Millan living in an Aragonese villiage; Requiem for a Spanish Peasant by Ramon Jose Sender is an accurate reflection on Spain's turbulent past through the eyes of an ordinary village man.

 

 

 

Sweden

the_girl_with_the_dragon_tattoo

 

 

Steig Larsson's complex thriller The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo is set in Sweden and follows the investigation of the murder of the young Harriet Vanger.

 

 

Switzerland

 

 

What better way to enjoy Switzerland than through Johanna Spyri's childhood classic Heidi; Heidi's longing for the alpine fields of the Swiss Alps is somewhat infectious.

 

 

Turkey

My_name_is_red

 

 

One of the fastest selling books in Turkish history My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk is a murder story set in 16th Century in Istanbul that tells the story of a Sultan who has hired artists for a special project. It explores the tensions that exist between Eastern and Western values.

 

 

Ukraine

death_and_the_penguin

 

 

As Mepmep puts it Death And the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov is a 'satire about life in post-Soviet Ukraine and is so, so hilarious' - it follows the story of Vicktor and his pet penguin Misha.

 

 

 

cottage 

UK  

notes_from_a_Small_island

 

 

Dubbed by Mumsnetters as a hilarious tale, Bill Bryson's Notes From A Small Island recounts his last trip around Britain before he leaves for America. Bryson reminds us of the best bits of our fair nation through his witty observations that will make you weep with laughter and as DrankSangriaInThePark says, will make you both 'homesick and proud'.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Last updated: 14-Aug-2014 at 10:17 AM