This month, I continue my reading journey throughout Europe with
How to Fall in Love With A Man Who Lives in A Bush by Emmy Abrahamson, set in Austria with funnily enough, a side trip to Vancouver, and My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan, inspiring me to travel to both England and Scotland.
How to Fall in Love With A Man Who Lives in A Bush
How to Fall in Love With A Man Who Lives in A Bush by Emmy Abrahamson (and translated by Nichola Smalley, $15.99, Harper) is, I believe, the first book I have read set in Austria. (As a side note, it’s also based on Abrahamson’s love story with her now husband.)
And it does a great job of inspiring me to travel to this country despite how Ben, who originally hails from Vancouver, feels about its residents: “Aloof in some ways, like they have some big secret in common. One that everyone knows, but that everyone keeps their mouths shut about.”
“Maybe that they’ve got someone hidden in the cellar,” I suggest.
The homeless guy nods furiously. “Exactly! And they all seem to be in really bad moods the whole time. On the other hand, they did give the world Arnold Schwarzenegger,” he says. “So I’m ready to forgive them.”
Julia, an aspiring writer who keeps thinking of bestsellers only to realize they have all been written before (so funny), hopes to one day find an original idea. One day she sits down on a bench and discovers something original – Ben, who is sexy, adventurous and, oh, lives in the park. They start a whirlwind romance and we get to experience Austria through them.
While Ben thinks Austrians are aloof, Julia disagrees:
“I love the Austrians…OK, they can be a bit arrogant and unfriendly sometimes, but they really know how to enjoy life. A good glass of wine, finishing work early on Friday, opera, theaters, delicious baked goods, all the Christmas markets, Muller Rice with cinnamon, Eurovision singers with beards, the beautiful countryside, the fact that there are vineyards within the Vienna city limits, the ice cream parlor on Tuchlauben. And there’s a sexy kind of decadence here, as though we’re all going to live forever or die tomorrow. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere but Vienna.”
We also get to experience Vienna: “Hundertwasser‘s irregular, tree-studded building, the crypts under St. Stephen’s Cathedral with their thousands of skulls and the well-kept secret of Hitler’s home in the sixth district. I show him where the resistance movement scratched messages during the Second World War, the “house without eyebrows” on Michaelerplatz and the place were W. H. Auden died just after a poetry reading.”
If I ever make it to Austria during the Christmas market season, I hope Julia’s tip about Spittelberg is correct and that no tourists find their way there. That is the market I want to attend.
My Oxford Year
My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan ($17.79, HarperCollins) allows us to explore the glorious and historic Oxford University campus, courtesy of American Ella Durran, who reaches her goal of going to Oxford at age 24 on a Rhodes Scholarship. She also gets a position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign, which she does remotely while enjoying her once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Through Ella we get to live on campus (which would be amazing except for the rather nasty bunch of stairs she has to climb to get to her apartment); the library (have you seen pictures? Sigh); as well as the history of the campus and its famous former pupils. We also get to eat at its historic pubs and spend some time enjoying the beauty of Scotland and its “manor” homes.
I can see why Oxford has been a dream for Ella since she was 13. I, too, am inspired to visit this glorious university, not to learn, but to simply walk through its grounds and explore the history behind it.
Copies of How to Fall in Love With A Man Who Lives in A Bush and My Oxford Years were provided by HarperCollins for an honest review. The opinions are my own.
Lisa Day has a passion for books – owning them, reading them, writing about them and talking about them. She carries at least one, maybe two or three, books with her at all times and when she isn't reading, she is writing about them. You can also find her on Twitter at @LisaMDayC; Instagram at @LisaMDayReads, Facebook at www.facebook.com/BookTime584 and GoodReads at http://bit.ly/ldgoodreads