One of the hallmarks of fiction is authors’ incredible ability to entirely make up imaginary worlds from scratch.
Many beloved books transport us to fictional locations like Narnia, Middle Earth, and other places that don’t exist in the real world.
But other books take a real-world location as the basis for their stories, and the result can be equally enthralling. Here are four books you may not know were based on real places.
Lives of Girls and Women – Huron County, Ontario
Alice Munro, the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature, was born and raised in Huron County, Ontario.
This idyllic locale is the setting of most of her works, including Lives of Girls and Women. Munro tells deceptively simple tales of the lives of everyday people in this region.
Little Colonel Series – Peewee Valley, Kentucky (and others)
The Little Colonel Series, written around the turn of the 20th century by Annie Fellows Johnston, initially is set in Peewee Valley, Kentucky.
This area would later be regarded as a suburb of Louisville, but at the time of the story, it was a favorite summer retreat for wealthy Louisville residents. It was rife with beautiful houses. Other settings in the series include real-world locations in Iowa, Texas, and Arizona.
All the Pretty Horses – Coahuila, Mexico
Cormac McCarthy set nearly all of his early novels in the American Southwest and Mexico, and All the Pretty Horses is no exception.
That novel was set in the Coahuila state in Mexico as its ranch-hand protagonists venture southward in search of work.
The bleak beauty of this arid region forms the backdrop for McCarthy’s uncompromising stories.
Love in the Time of Cholera – Cartagena, Colombia
Gabriel Garcia Marquez never names the city in which his novel, Love in the Time of Cholera, is set.
However, the context of the novel reveals that the unnamed city’s location is in close proximity to the Magdalena River and the Caribbean Sea, so we know that the setting of this story is Cartagena, Colombia. Further, Garcia Marquez lived in Cartagena for many years, allowing him to paint a vivid and realistic portrayal of the city in this work.
In these four cases, it’s possible to read and enjoy the books and yet have no idea that the settings are historical and real.
However, realizing that the places depicted in these works are based closely on authentic cities, states, counties, and regions can deepen the appreciation for the craft these authors put into telling their stories.
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Where Alice Munro found her stories | The Star
Peewee Valley | Finish Line Realty
Cartagena: Love in the Time of Cholera | Travel
Setting for Pretty Little Horses | Shmoop