So many books are based on real places, but how often do you get a chance to visit them? I’ve lived in London, so recognized the parts of town Monica Ali wrote about in Brick Lane. I’ve travelled to Edinburgh and seen the steep side streets Ian Rankin have described so well in his Rebus books.
Fjällbacka of Camilla Läckberg’s brilliant books, however, was a complete unknown to me, despite being a huge fan of her books. I’ve been reading all her books with images in my head that were a mix of the televised Henning Mankell-books and islands I’d been to myself. What a lovely place it turned out to be, though! I can see why Ingrid Bergman spent all her holidays there.
We were in Oslo and my husband suggested popping over to Sweden for a laugh. I innocently said I’d heard about a place called Fjällbacka which was meant to be picturesque. He didn’t suspect a thing. The drive up to it was motorway followed by narrow roads between fields and forests. Then the church was majestically on a hill in front of us and we could drive through the town. I say town; it’s very little more than a village, but very, very cute. England has Miss Marple’s villages, Sweden has Fjällbacka.
The town is framed by the harbour on one side and a big hill on the other side. If you walk up it, you get a stunning view of the hundreds of mini-islands that are between Fjällbacka and the sea. Most of them have no trees and no houses on them, but the closest ones have little red, wooden boathouses on them. I am convinced the bigger island directly opposite the harbour is the island mentioned in the Christmas novella (which is still to be translated into English).
The houses in Fjällbacka are all wooden clapboard houses in various colours, mainly white, red and yellow. They are just the sweetest little things with conservatories and balconies galore and lovely rose gardens still in bloom in November.
I was in the middle of reading The Hidden Child when we went to Fjällbacka, and it really changed the way I read the rest of the book. I was suddenly able to picture the houses people live in; the big houses overlooking the sea, the boathouses in the harbour, the youth hostel by the mini-beach and even the boats that Erica and her sister travels to and from the islands in. I made a small cry of excitement as we walked up the hill behind the town and I spotted the big rock stuck in between hillsides that I’d read about in a previous book.
You can see pictures of what Camilla’s world of Fjällbacka really looks like and find out more about her books at s23783.p595.sites.pressdns.com/thedrowning .
Stine Smemo Strachan