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Summer travels with Charlotte Philby

  • Submitted: 16th June 2024

Summer travels with Charlotte Philby

Location is at the heart of this book. I almost see places as characters in themselves when I write. Every one of the settings (and there are many!) mean something to me, personally.

Map of locations in The End of Summer

The End of Summer Charlotte Philby

Map of locations in The End of Summer

London

I grew up in London, and recently fell out of love with aspects of the city. Gentrification has really changed the landscape of the place; the rebellious and creative spirit that made the city the one I knew has largely been hollowed out by inflated rents and replaced by a corporate takeover of previously interesting public spaces.

That said, there is still a lot to love about the city: the multi-culturalism and the way people of all backgrounds live side-by-side in relative harmony is almost unique, as are many of its characters.

Map of locations in The End of Summer

Bristol

Four years ago, I moved to Bristol – a city that possesses the kind of anarchic spirit I remember from growing up in north London in the ’80s and ’90s – and from here, I am able to piece the city of my birth back together in the way that I want it to be. In this book, I also allowed myself a walk back in time through the places that have meant something to me.

Map of locations in The End of Summer

Kensington, London

Launceston Place in Kensington, London, is the setting of the Harrington family home, where Rory Harrington was killed in the 2000s. It is also where Francesca is met by reporters gathered at the front door, in present day, claiming the case of her father’s murder is being reopened twenty years after the event, and her mother, Judy, is the prime suspect.

Charlotte Philby (c) C Philby

Charlotte Philby (c) C Philby

In my own life, this street is one I walked down every day for years on my way to and from my job as a newspaper reporter at The Independent. The sheer scale of the wealth here made me intrigued by the people who lived in these houses, and what went on behind the stucco-ed pillars and wisteria-adorned facades.

Herault in France is the location for Judy’s home in South-East France, in her gardening years. It is based on my father’s home in the historic village of Villemagne l’Argentiere. My dad lived here for the final ten years of his life. The house was part of an old abbey.

Map of locations in The End of Summer

A river runs in front, and there is a single tabac and a spot where villagers play boule. In the story, it is where Judy escapes to and sets up a new life for herself after leaving London. It was somewhere when, on visits to see my dad in my late teens and early twenties, I would sit and think up stories, imagining the lives of the people who lived here before.

Map of locations in The End of Summer

Coal Drop’s Yard in King’s Cross, London, is a great example of how London has changed. In the book, the site of the old Bagley’s nightclub is an important location. I chose this spot because in its previous guise as a series of disused arches, my father had his carpentry studio here. I spent hours as a child lobbing a soggy ball over cobbled stones for my collie, Bryn, on weekends, and helping his friend, Terry, sell burgers to bugged-eyed revellers as they left the club.

Map of locations in The End of Summer

Terry spoke many languages and used to get tickets for him and me to watch the rehearsals for operas, in central London. He was a true character. The area has since been completely transformed with expensive shops and no sign of the nightclub from which Francesca is returning when she learns about a crime her parents have been caught up in, in France.

Map of locations in The End of Summer

Deia in Mallorca is where Francesca goes on holiday with her friend, Laura, in the Nineties. The sun-drenched terrace, lemon-scented air and sparkling sea was inspired by a holiday to Mallorca around the time when this chapter of the book is set.

Map of locations in The End of Summer

Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. I went to Cape Cod as a child and felt this would make the perfect place for Judy Harrington to meet and woo her future husband, Rory. The transient population in summer, the wealth, and the presence of vineyards (the industry Rory’s family works in) made it an obvious setting for Judy’s escapades. Plus, there is a wildness and freedom of the setting that I believe would have appealed to her as she made her getaway from New York City. . .

Happy Travels this summer!

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: The End of Summer

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