Visiting Fictional Towns



The Melendy family moves to Carthage from New York City when their father decides a move to the country will save them money during wartime. It’s a gem of a town with a thriving bakery, butcher’s shop, lovely small schools, central town square with a single police officer and a community of people who support each other and share gossip – good and bad. If you have a chance to look at their downtown BIA website right now (it’s a real town, we had to know) you will see that not much seems to have changed about Carthage – and a stop there if you are passing through on a driving vacation might be in your future plans because the town looks like a sure thing for a snack or a shopping trip. You can meet the Melendy family through one of the best family-friendly eAudiobooks we have in Elizabeth Enright’s The Saturdays. All four children and their environment come to life in her true-to-life account of one family’s Saturday adventures.

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately with cozy mystery series that offer the same type of setting that the Melendy family had in Carthage, NY although those towns are truly fictional. I know because I have tried to find them in the real world, thinking I could plan a trip there, and they just don’t exist. Lynn Cahoon‘s South Cove, California is the setting for her “Tourist Trap” mystery series. The books are all told from the perspective a good-humoured newcomer, named Jill, who runs the local bookstore and coffee shop that she runs with her eccentric aunt.

Aside from the unfortunate murders and constant crime that happen in South Cove, I really can’t think of another place I would rather stay. The town’s historic bed and breakfast is gorgeous, there’s a diner that makes the best stack of pancakes and mouth-watering burgers, bus tours regularly stop there because they have a mansion known as “The Castle” that is modeled on something that Hugh Hefner might have owned and the town is filled with unusual people you would love to stop and talk to. South Cove is just minutes away from the ocean so you can head off to the beach whenever you like, for surfing or sand castles, just like the people in town do on a regular basis (while not looking into murder investigations). Sign me up!

Maggie Sefton‘s Kelly Flynn series is also set in a fictional town which the author calls “Fort Connor” however the book refers to the areas around Poudre Canyon so a bit of sleuthing led me to think that she is referring to the gorgeous college town of Fort Collins, Colorado. It shares so many of the same wonderful characteristics that you see in her novels – quirky craft shops, bakeries, specialty bike stores, wonderful summer festivals and stores just like Kelly’s knitting store where everything happens.

Kelly, in the first book of this series, moves back to Fort Connor from Washington, when her aunt is murdered and takes over her cheerful yarn shop. What a business! It is a store, bistro, gallery and support centre for those who love to work with yarn. It really is possible to feel like you are walking through a rainbow of colour when you visit the “The House of Lambspun’, almost like our local Shall We Knit? was transported from UpTown Waterloo to the Rocky Mountains. The effect of falling into the pages of one of these books, filled with an atmosphere of friendly conversation and crafting, is instantly soothing. Until the next crime happens, and, it always does. I know that I would book a trip to Fort Connor, if I could.

Can’t you just imagine visiting these pleasant towns and staying for a bit? Booking a room at a charming bed and breakfast, waking up and knowing that the day is filled with discoveries in their quaint galleries and unusual tourist attractions. Oh, it’s a wonderful daydream for me right now – checking out a friendly beach where there might be a sandcastle competition (not participating, just eating something lovely while others do it) or stopping in a gift shop and then having a great pastry and a cup of tea. We can’t access these treats in real life right now but the next best thing is to enjoy it in a book…or an eBook or eAudioBook…at WPL’s Digital Library.

— Penny M.