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Our handpicked reading list for your Jurassic coast staycation 2021

If you want to find some inspiration for what to read on your Summer staycation to the Jurassic Coast this year whether it's classic literature, romance, drama, or reading with the children look no further than Fossil Coast Gin's handpicked reading list.

The British Isles is home to some of the world’s most notable writers who have used the Jurassic Coast and the towns of Lyme Regis, Chesil Beach, West Bay (a.k.a Broadchurch), and Seatown as inspiration and featured in the plots as well as being the home of many iconic protagonists.


Chris Chibnall who created the ITV series Broadchurch says it best, "It's a love letter to the landscape of West Dorset, where I've lived for the best part of a decade. The landscape informs the drama: the cliffs, the sea, the beach are all key elements of the story". It’s therefore unsurprising that Jurassic Coastline has such a deep literary heritage that many literary events are scheduled throughout the year.


Among these notable writers and literary legends are Thomas Hardy, Enid Blyton, and Jane Austen who was a frequent visitor to Lyme Regis where she wrote 'Persuasion' along with John Fowles set his classic novel 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' in and around the town. The classic novel 'Moonfleet' by John Meade Faulkner was based in Chesil Beach as was Ian McEwans's 1962 'On Chesil Beach', Booker Prize-shortlisted and 2017 feature film.


Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928) spent most of his life in the town of Dorchester using Wessex (Dorset) as his geographic muse and fictional setting for his novels including 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' and 'The Mayor of Casterbridge'. Both Hardy’s Cottage where he was born and raised and Max Gate his Dorchester townhouse are wonderfully preserved, owned, and managed by the National Trust and are free for members to visit.


Enid Blyton regularly spent her holidays along the Jurassic Coast especially on the Isle of Purbeck. It was here, the location of Corfe Castle, that is believed to be ‘Kirrin Castle’ from her Famous Five series, along with Brownsea Island as ‘Whispering Island’ and Stoborough heath re-imagined as ‘Mystery Moor’.


Children's Books


Mary Anning (History VIP) by Kay Barnham

'She sells sea shells on the sea shore' - and she really did! This rhyme is thought to have been written about Mary Anning, an amazing fossil and dinosaur expert, who was almost unknown at the time she lived. This biography explores the life of Mary Anning, from her first fossil finds at the age of ten to her sales of important discoveries to wealthy scientists. Mary's fossil finds made a great contribution to what scientist understood about pre-historic life.


Through the story of Mary Anning, readers learn about life and society in the 1800s and Victorian Britain. We learn what it was like to be born into a poor family and about the roles of women in society and in the field of science. Readers will learn to draw conclusions from the evidence provided - a great basis for class discussions.


History VIP biographies each look at the life of a famous Briton telling the stories of these Very Important People with clear, lively text. Amazing facts are added with feature panels and lively illustrations that give visual information of the time and society the VIP lived in. (Buy this book)


The Dinosaur Detectives by Stephanie Baudet

Matt Sharp has a secret talent: if he touches dinosaur eggs, he experiences mysterious visions of the prehistoric world. This is lucky because Matt wants to be a paleontologist just like his dad. Now that he's twelve, he's allowed to join his father on an exciting search for dinosaur eggs - too bad his annoying eleven-year-old cousin, Jo, is tagging along. Even worse, it looks like Matt's dad's rival is following them! Who will win the race and find the fossils first?


Join Matt, Jo, and Dad on their adventures to the Amazon Rainforest, Florida, the Antarctic, and Australia! The Dinosaur Detectives is a fun-filled adventure series following the story of Matt Sharp and his family as they hunt for dinosaur eggs.


This fact meets fiction series is great for the young explorer aged 7+. (Buy this book)




The Famous Five: Five on a Treasure Island (Book 1) by Enid Blyton

Meet Julian, Dick, Anne, George, and Timothy. Together they are THE FAMOUS FIVE - Enid Blyton's most popular adventure series. All 21 titles are also available as audiobooks! 'There was something else out on the sea by the rocks - something dark that seemed to lurch out of the waves . . . What could it be?' Julian, Dick, and Anne are spending the holidays with their tomboy cousin George and her dog, Timothy. One day, George takes them to explore nearby Kirrin Island, with its rocky little coast and old ruined castle on the top.


Over on the island, they make a thrilling discovery, which leads them deep into the dungeons of Kirrin Castle on a dangerous adventure. Who - and what - will they find there? Fantastic new cover art by Laura Ellen Anderson will draw young readers into this accessible timeless classic. (Buy this book)



Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K Rowling

J.K. Rowling, a former resident, graduate of Exeter University and author of the Harry Potter, named “Budleigh Babberton”, the home of retired Professor Horace Eugene Flaccus Slughorn, is named after Budleigh Salterton.


Let the magic of J.K. Rowling's classic Harry Potter series take you back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This Gryffindor House Edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire celebrates the noble character of the Hogwarts house famed for its courage, bravery, and determination. Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts is packed with more great Gryffindor moments and characters, including Harry's unexpected selection as champion in the Triwizard Tournament - not to mention Hagrid's misadventures with Blast-Ended Skrewts! (Buy this book)


Classic Literature


Persuasion by Jane Austen

'In Persuasion, Jane Austen is beginning to discover that the world is larger, more mysterious, and more romantic than she had supposed' Virginia Woolf


Jane Austen's moving late novel of missed opportunities and second chances centers on Anne Elliot, no longer young and with few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she was persuaded by others to break off her engagement to poor, handsome naval captain Frederick Wentworth. What happens when they meet again is movingly told in Austen's last completed novel.


Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, and a mature, tender love story tinged with heartache. (Buy Book)




The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

Other books by Thomas Hardy set on Wessex backdrop include: Far from the Madding Crowd and The Mayor of Casterbridge.

'To be loved to madness - such was her great desire'


Eustacia Vye criss-crosses the wild Egdon Heath, eager to experience life to the full in her quest for 'music, poetry, passion, war'. She marries Clym Yeobright, native of the heath, but his idealism frustrates her romantic ambitions and her discontent draws others into a tangled web of deceit and unhappiness.


Early readers responded to Hardy's 'insatiably observant' descriptions of the heath, a setting that for D. H. Lawrence provided the 'real stuff of tragedy'.


For modern readers, the tension between the mythic setting of the heath and the modernity of the characters challenges our freedom to shape the world as we wish; like Eustacia, we may not always be able to live our dreams. (Buy Book)


The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles

Widely acclaimed since publication, John Fowles' most beloved novel is the ultimate epic historical romance.


Charles Smithson, a respectable engaged man, meets Sarah Woodruff as she stands on the Cobb at Lyme Regis, staring out to sea.


Charles falls in love, but Sarah is a disgraced woman, and their romance will defy all the stifling conventions of the Victorian age. (Buy Book)











Moonfleet by J. Mead Falkner

Orphaned John Trenchard grows up in the village of Moonfleet with his aunt, entranced by the local legend of the ghostly Blackbeard, who rises each winter night to search for his lost diamond.


While conducting his own hunt for the treasure, John is trapped in the church crypt and discovers the true secret of the village: smuggling.


Taken under the wing of the gruff innkeeper and chief smuggler, Elzevir Block, John begins a dangerous adventure that will see him in a hair-raising chase along a precarious cliff path and deciphering a hidden code in an ancient castle. Moonfleet is a thrilling story of revenge and betrayal, of loyalty and great sacrifice, but it is above all a story about friendship. (Buy this book)



Romantic Comedy


Summer at the Comfort Food Café by Debbie Johnson

Other books by Debbie Johns include Christmas at the Comfort Food Café, Coming Home to the Comfort Food Café , Wedding at the Comfort Food Café and Sunshine at the Comfort Food Café. This series of four books follow the exploits of widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, and her decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad. For her, the Comfort Food Café doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…

Full of quirky characters, friendship, and humour, you will devour this engaging and heartwarming novel in one sitting’ Sunday Express’ S Magazine


Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you raid the pantry in the middle of the night…


The Comfort Food Café is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, t