Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In

The topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl is: Bookish Worlds I’d Want to/Never Want to Live In. I decided to focus on the second option and list ten of the most unpleasant or unappealing settings from books previously reviewed on my blog…and here they are:

1. The Republic of Gilead (The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood)

From my review: “In this new dystopian society, women no longer have any of the rights or freedoms they had before; they’re not allowed to work, not allowed to have their own bank accounts, not even allowed to read in case reading leads them into temptation.”

2. The room (Room by Emma Donoghue)

From my review: “The story is narrated by Jack, a five-year-old boy who has spent his whole life living with his mother in a converted shed measuring eleven foot square. His mother had been kidnapped seven years ago and Jack was born in captivity. He has no idea that a world exists outside Room and apart from Ma and Old Nick, the man who is keeping them captive, he has never seen another human being.”

3. Tregannon House, Cornwall (The Asylum by John Harwood)

From my review: “Most of the action takes place within the confines of Tregannon House (the private asylum on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, in which Georgina becomes trapped) and the atmosphere Harwood creates is wonderfully claustrophobic and eerie. I really sympathised with Georgina’s situation and shared her terror and bewilderment.”

4. Melanie Langdon’s drawing room (The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski)

From my review: “The book conveys a sense of confusion, panic and disorientation and I could really feel Melanie’s helplessness as she lay on the chaise-longue, trapped in Milly’s body, desperately trying to work out who she was and how she could escape.”

5. The Marshalsea Prison (The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson)

From my review: “The prisoners who had some money to spend or who had influential friends, lived on the Master’s Side, which was almost like a complete town in itself, with coffee houses, bars, restaurants and even a barber. They had the freedom to move around and in some cases were even given permission to go out into London during the day. For the poor people on the Common Side, things were much worse. Crammed into tiny cells and suffering from starvation, disease and overcrowding, they died at a rate of up to twelve a day.”

6. Starkfield, Massachusetts (Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton)

From my review: “The most striking thing about this book, for me, was the tense, claustrophobic atmosphere Wharton created, making the reader feel locked within Ethan’s miserable world. The town of Starkfield, Massachusetts is as stark as its name suggests; the descriptions of the snow, the ice and the cold all contribute to the heavy feeling of oppression which hangs over the entire book.”

7. Hill House (The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson)

From my review: “I loved the descriptions of Hill House – it has all the characteristics you would expect a haunted house to have, including a tragic history – but there are very few physical manifestations of ghostly activity. The creepiness of the story comes mainly from the fact that we don’t know how much of the ‘haunting’ is caused by Hill House itself and how much is the product of Eleanor’s disturbed mind.”

8. Lexham Manor at Christmas (Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer)

From my review: “I have rarely read a novel with so many nasty, rude, unpleasant characters and I couldn’t think of anything worse than being a guest at the Herriards’ party, even without a murder taking place! From the obnoxious, sarcastic Stephen and the haughty butler Sturry to the cantankerous, bad-tempered Nathaniel, they were all so annoying I was surprised only one murder was committed.”

9. Green Town, Illinois at carnival time (Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury)

From my review: “Good versus evil is obviously one of the major themes of the novel. A feeling of malice and danger hangs over the carnival from the moment it arrives and the people connected with it are both strange and sinister – particularly the blind Dust Witch who hovers over the boys’ houses in a hot air balloon in one of the creepiest scenes in the book.”

10. The future (The Time Machine by HG Wells)

From my review: “Remembering when this novel was published, Wells’ vision of a future world has been developed from some of the issues which would have seemed relevant at the end of the 19th century, such as widening class divisions, theories of evolution and Darwinism. It’s a bleak and depressing view of the future – and if that really is what we have to look forward to, then imperfect as our current society may be, I’m very glad to be living in 2016!”


Have you taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday? Can you think of some bookish worlds you wouldn’t want to live in?

24 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In

  1. Sandra says:

    What a great list, Helen! Not being a great fan of horror or dystopian novels, I was confident there would be nothing here that would attract me but I was wrong! Two have gone straight on the list, and several more might easily have done!

    • Helen says:

      I don’t read a lot of horror or dystopia either, so I had to be more creative with some of my choices and think of specific houses or buildings rather than actual ‘worlds’. I enjoyed putting this list together!

  2. Karen K. says:

    Excellent list. I binge-watched the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale last week and I’m terrified. Now I need to get my book group to read it next year, there’s so much to discuss.

    I also love your inclusion of Ethan Frome (one of my favorites) and Room. I cannot imagine the horror. But I do want to read Envious Casca, I’ve only read one of Heyer’s mysteries and now I’m intrigued.

    • Helen says:

      The Handmaid’s Tale is a great book. I think you could have some interesting discussions with your book group. I did enjoy Envious Casca – it’s probably my favourite of Heyer’s mysteries so far – but the characters are all horrible!

    • Helen says:

      No, me neither! I nearly included the house in We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson too – another unsettling and disturbing fictional world.

  3. FictionFan says:

    Haha! I’m feeling much better about my own life now! Nothing like reading about some truly awful places to make your own home seem more appealing… 😉

  4. Katie @ Read-at-Home Mom says:

    Green Town is a great one! I ended up doing my list about literary homes I’d like to live in, but if I’d focused on worlds I didn’t want to live in, I think that would have made my list. That is an amazing book, but so creepy!

    • Helen says:

      I enjoyed Something Wicked This Way Comes but Green Town was such a creepy setting! I would have been terrified of that Dust Witch.

  5. Lark says:

    Great list! I wouldn’t want to live in any of these places either, although I wouldn’t mind visiting Bradbury’s Green town just for an hour or two. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      That cover is very eye-catching, isn’t it? I haven’t read The Circle – it sounds interesting, though probably not my sort of book.

  6. cirtnecce says:

    The moment I saw your header, the first place that came to my head was the Republic of Gilead and then the Hill House and then I see you got both listed! Lol! I also agree with the future in Time Machine! Just when you think modern world is not fit to live in, you find reasons to appreciate it!

  7. jessicabookworm says:

    Helen, I love your choices of Melanie Langdon’s drawing room from The Victorian Chaise-Longue, Hill House from The Haunting of Hill House and Green Town, Illinois at carnival time from Something Wicked This Way Comes – as much as I loved these books I really wouldn’t want to live in these places… not even visit! 😛

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