Lazing the days away in the pages of a good book is the very essence of a Canvas holiday. Whether you’re chilling on the beach or sunbathing at the pool, here’s a selection of our favourite holiday reads.
Pick up some pointers for mingling with the locals in this laugh-out-loud account of being a Brit in France. Paul West, a young Englishman, arrives in Paris to start a new job – and finds out what the French are really like. He discovers they do eat a lot of cheese… but don’t wash their armpits with garlic soap.
The perfect read for: Camping les Etangs Fleuris, Touquin
The Normandy Landings that took place on D-Day involved by far the largest invasion fleet ever known. Acclaimed writer Beevor makes use of overlooked and new material from over thirty archives in half a dozen countries to create a vivid and gripping narrative that conveys the true experience of war.
The perfect read for: Yelloh! Village la Vallée, Houlgate. The D-Day Landing Museum is at nearby Arromanches.
This novel from the author of Chocolat is packed with breathtaking scenery and mouth-watering descriptions. Framboise, the middle-aged narrator, begins her story on the banks of the Loire. She’s returned to the village where she grew up during wartime, and with the help of the recipes scribbled in her mother’s album, opens up a small restaurant. She is desperate to keep her identity a secret even amongst the aged villagers with whom she played during the German occupation. But slowly, reluctantly, Framboise begins to unravel the terrible wartime secret that drove her family away from the village.
The perfect read for: Château des Marais, Chambord
When Dr Alice Tanner discovers two skeletons during an archaeological dig near Carcassonne, she unearths a link with a horrific and brutal past. Alice has an uneasy feeling that she has disturbed something which was meant to remain hidden. Eight hundred years earlier, on the night before a brutal civil war ripped apart Languedoc, a book was entrusted to Alais, a young healer. Although she cannot understand the symbols and diagrams the book contains, she knows her destiny lies in protecting their secret. Labyrinth blends the lives of two women in a story steeped in the atmosphere and history of southern France.
The perfect read for: Yelloh! Village la Petite Camargue, Aigues-Mortes
Set the scene for your Côte d’Azur escape with a glamorous dose of Jilly Cooper. This is the story of a librarian whose holiday on the Riviera provides adventures far more thrilling than the worthy fiction she’s read. There are more models and playboys than you can shake a stick at – and the descriptions of the scenery are enchanting.
The perfect read for: Yelloh! Village les Tournels, St Tropez
Set in post-World War II Barcelona, the novel opens with a man initiating his young son, Daniel, into the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where lost tomes wait to be rediscovered. Daniel chooses a novel called The Shadow of the Wind and becomes obsessed with the author, whose tragic and drama-filled story unfolds, interlaced with Daniel’s own tragic and drama-filled life. The sights and sounds of Barcelona come alive in this stunning literary thriller.
The perfect read for: Camping Park Playa Bara, Tarragona
When Rome is invaded in 1527, the high life is over for Fiammetta Bianchini, a beautiful, young, high ranking courtesan. She flees to Venice with her dwarf companion, their stomachs full of the jewels they have swallowed. They begin to build their fortunes again, and then a young blind woman insinuates her way into their lives with devastating consequences for them all. Gripping, witty and beautifully written, this page-turner breathes life into Renaissance Venice.
The perfect read for: Camping Ca’Savio, Venice
It’s 3am and Elizabeth is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She’s in her thirties; she has a husband, a house, they’re trying for a baby – and she doesn’t want any of it. A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she realises it’s time to pursue her own journey. She travels to Rome, where she learns Italian from handsome, brown-eyed identical twins and gains twenty-five pounds. Her adventures then move to India and Bali – but you might not read that far if you’re planning a holiday to Italy. Her descriptions of Italian cuisine are lip-smackingly good!
The perfect read for: Camping Fabulous, Rome
This classic comedy-of-manners is a witty observation of the English middle classes as they holiday abroad in Florence. One of these tourists is Lucy Honeychurch, a young girl whose heart is awakened by her experiences in Italy. If you find the book too hard-going, you can always cheat and watch the film version for a taste of the stunning Tuscan scenery before you go on holiday!
The perfect read for: Camping Norcenni Girasole, Florence
In Amsterdam, in the summer of 1942, the Nazis forced teenager Anne Frank and her family into hiding. For over two years, they lived in a secret annexe, fearing discovery. All that time, Anne kept a diary. Her intimate record of tension and struggle, adolescence and heartbreak has inspired generations.
The perfect read for: Camping Duinrell, Wassenaar. Take a day trip to Amsterdam from the campsite and visit Anne Frank Haus.
Have you got any books you’d recommend as a great holiday read? Let us know!