Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books Set Outside the USA

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly link up hosted by The Broke & the Bookish. It's Wednesday here in Australia so I'm late. This week the topic is: Ten Books Set Outside the U.S.A. Here are some that I've enjoyed and I've linked to any previous reviews I've written:


The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (1925)

This is an unusual and almost bizarre story that grabs you from the very first page. It is set partly in England but mostly in China and Hong Kong when the latter was under British rule in the 1920's.
Shallow but likeable in many ways; beautiful, outgoing and frivolous, twenty-five year old Kitty, afraid of being left on the shelf after spending her youth partying and flirting, and declining a number of marriage proposals, marries Walter Fane, an intense, introverted, young doctor. They go to live in Hong Kong where he has been working in bacteriology and while there Kitty becomes involved with a married man.
Walter discovers her unfaithfulness and forces Kitty to face the truth that her 'lover' had no intention of leaving his own wife and was just using her. Walter gives his wife an ultimatum whereby her only available option is to travel with him to a cholera ravaged outpost in China.
The story doesn't sound very appealing!! but I loved the author's writing and his exploration of Kitty's gradual awakening of conscience and development of character.
It is a little sad; Walter is a tragic sort of character. The ending wasn't perfect, but as good as it probably could be considering the circumstances. Overall, I think it's a very interesting and absorbing read.


The Bielski Brothers by Peter Duffy

In June 1941 Hitler's armies invaded Russia in what was known as Operation Barbarossa, and quickly advanced to the city of Novogrudek in Western Belarus where they began to impose regulations to control the Jewish population and set up the Novogrudek ghetto. This is the story of three Jewish  brothers who waged a guerilla warfare against the Nazis and created a 'Jerusalem in the woods.'


Death of a Guru by Rabindranath R Maharaj

A fascinating and wonderfully engaging book first published in the 1970's at the height of Eastern Mysticism's introduction into the western world.


The House I Left Behind by Dr. Daniel Shayesteh

This book is a unique insight into the life of a practicing Muslim through the lens of a man raised in an Iranian (Persian) culture dominated by fundamentalist Islam (historically Iran has not always been Muslim and defended its Persian heritage for many years despite Arabic invasions).
It's the story of a man who desired democracy and economic justice for his country and believed the Iranian Revolution which deposed the Shah of Iran and opened the door for the rule of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 would be the means of accomplishing this.
I wrote a little about it here.


Cover Her Face by P.D James - written in 1962, this was P.D James's first novel. Her books give very picturesque descriptions of the English landscape.


Pied Piper by Nevil Shute - Shute is an author who never fails to please. His characters are just normal everyday sorts of people with their flaws and weaknesses, but he places them in exceptional circumstances that call upon all their resources. A very satisfying book with an unusual plot and twist at the end.


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque - the best book on World War I that I've ever read. Written by a German who fought on the front and a book not to be missed!


The Tragedy of the Korosko by Arthur Conan Doyle

In 1895 the steamer, S.W. Korosko, set out from Shellal, a small village in Upper Egypt, with an assorted group of English, Irish and American tourists on board. Their intention was to travel up the two hundred miles of Nubian Nile, visiting the various points of interest along the way, but during one of their excursions they were kidnapped by a group of Arab dervishes and plunged into a world steeped in seventh century ideas and practice.


Nothing Else Matters by Patricia St. John - a young adult book set during the civil war in Lebanon during the 1970's.


Decision at Delphi by Helen McInnes - one of my favourite authors whose espionage books are set all through Europe.


Ruth @ with freedom and books said...

I agree: All Quiet is by far the best WWI novel. LOVE IT!

Silvia said...

I must read All is Quiet then...

I've only read the first book, The Painted Veil, and I loved it. And, strangely, I even liked the movie better. The movie is different, and the differences suit the movie format, imo. (It's less harsh than the book, and it has less details, but it captures the relationships very well, and the photography is astonishing.

Carol said...

I've read that the movie is very good but I'd never heard of either movie or book until just recently.

Silvia said...

I have Pied Piper, but I have only read his A Town Named Alice, and I think I saw it at your blog.
Nancy Kelly's husband, she says, likes Nevile Shute.

Ed Hoornaert said...

All Quiet on the Western Front is great. When the hero is carrying his wounded friend, unaware that the friend just got shot and killed, and when he himself gets killed for reaching toward a butterfly. Best anti-war book I ever read, even better than Catch-22. My TTT.

Aubrey @ Aubrey's Book Nook said...

YES! I adore how you did this. The set up is great and you have so many amazing countries and books I have never read. I am super excited to find them. Here's mine:

Carol said...

I've read it three times & I appreciate more each time. Catch 22 is waiting on the shelf thanks to my friend Silvia in the comment above yours recommending it.

Carol said...

I think you'd like his writing, Silvia.

Carol said...

Fropm what I've read, I don't think we're alone with that verdict.

Carol said...

Thanks Aubrey; checking out your list!

Silvia said...

Now I MUST read it, because I love Catch-22. But Catch-22 is a war book and it isn't. It's a sarcastic critic of society too, and a more general look at life and death through the lens of some war air-force pilots in the island of Pianosa. Catch 22 is WWII though, and it's also an exercise in philosophy. I consider Catch 22 a book in the very peculiar books category, and I believe for what I have read, All is Quiet... is inside realistic novel.

Silvia said...

Whose, Shute?, yes! I loved A Town Named Alice.

Anonymous said...

Lovely selection Carol!
My husband has just completed "All Quiet..." and enjoyed it.
We are reading some of your other recommendations like Doyle's Sir Nigel and the White Company... there is a family line up for this suggestion!
I look forward to some of your other suggestions!
Thanks for enriching our reading life!!


Joseph said...

You hooked me with your first choice. I'm definitely lacking in stories set in the Orient, but I really like Maugham. I didn't know he wrote one with a setting in China. TBR for that one. My list:

Carol said...

Thanks, Margaret. The Conan Doyld books are a lot of fun.

Carol said...

I wasn't aware it had a Chinese setting until I started reading it. I haven't read any of his others so I'll have to check your blog for some other titles of his to try.

Tina at said...

I haven't read any of these books! Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on this week!