Maps in Books

by Barb, who’s headed in for knee replacement surgery tomorrow

I have a friend who says, “No book with a map in it can ever be all bad,” to which I heartily reply, “Amen!” I’ve loved books that contain maps going back to reading my mother’s 1935 edition of Winnie the Pooh.

dwell-nyt-best-3More recently, I’ve so enjoyed the maps by Laura Hartman Maestro in Deborah Crombie’s books. When a new book comes out, I’m excited to read the mystery and to see what has happened to Gemma and Duncan, because I am a huge fan and have been from the beginning of the series. But I’m also excited to see the map. I examine it before I start reading because Maestro’s hand-drawn maps are so aesthetically pleasing, but the maps don’t mean much before I’ve begun the book. It’s going back to them that gives me so much pleasure, layer upon layer over the course of the story. If you haven’t seen these wonderful maps, they are here. You can click on them to enlarge them.

thecuttingseasonI once startled Attica Locke at a book signing at Newtonville Books, when I opened The Cutting Season and exclaimed, “A map by Laura Hartman Maestro!” Attica was gracious, explaining that her publisher thought it was important for her readers to be able to visualize the “living history” sugar plantation where the story takes place.

So when I read that Minotaur was doing a giveaway of a map of Three Pines, the fictional town at the center of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache mysteries, I was all over it. All you had to do to enter was to fill out a form telling Minotaur where you pre-ordered the latest, The Nature of the Beast.

thenatureofthebeastThere was no question that I would buy The Nature of the Beast on release day. The prospect of having a Louise Penny novel to read over the long Labor Day weekend was too good to pass up. And I knew where I would purchase it–our local bookstore in Boothbay Harbor–Sherman’s Books & Stationery. So bing, bang, boom, I entered.

Two weeks ago a flat package from Minotaur showed up in my mail. I honestly wondered what it was, so much time had gone by. So it was a delightful surprise to open the flatpack and find my copy of the map of Three Pines.

It’s copyrighted, and I’ve looked all over the web to see if they’re using it promotionally, but couldn’t find it, so I’m not going to post it on the blog. You can see the piece of the draft they used to promote it here.

Louise Penny has said she resisted having a map done for years because she wanted readers to picture Three Pines in their own minds. This seems to me to be true for any well-rendered fictional location, but particularly so for Three Pines, which Penny tells us does not appear on any map or GPS. Even in the books, it is a place of the imagination. So, I opened the package with some trepidation.

mapofnethermonkslipThe Three Pines of the map is almost exactly as I had pictured it, which is a tribute to both Penny and the mapmaker, Rhys Davies–the same person who made this marvelous map for G.M. Malliet. I’m one to make up lots of stuff in my head–having clear pictures of characters and places that are sometimes at odds with what’s in the books. The houses of Three Pines weren’t labelled. Some I recognized instantly, but going forward I will need to pay more attention as various characters troop home from the bistro.

As for The Nature of the Beast–I loved it. It’s particularly appropriate that the map should come out now, because this book takes place entirely in Three Pines. Inspector Gamache has retired there, so there’s no back and forth in this book to Montreal or other parts of Canada.

All of this naturally made me wonder if I would ever like to have a map of Busman’s Harbor, the fictional location of my Maine Clambake Mysteries. As the series progresses, the town gets richer and fuller. We find out in Clammed Up that Gleason’s Hardware with an apartment above it is on Main Street, since several key scenes take place there. In Fogged Inn (Feb, 2016) we learn that next to Gleason’s is the double storefront of Walker’s Art Supplies and Frameshop. And on the corner of Main and Main, at the only stoplight in town, where Main Street curves back around, hugging the shape of the harbor hill and crosses itself, is Gordon’s Jewelry. Gus’s restaurant is in the back harbor, along with the marina, the shipbuilders, and Bud Barbour’s marine repair shop which appeared in Boiled Over. In Fogged Inn we learn that the Busman’s Harbor Yacht Club is also there. And then there’s what’s out on Eastclaw and Westclaw Points, and, of course, on Morrow Island.

So I think a map would be fun, but probably premature. I’m still filling in the town.

What about you, readers. Maps of fictional places, yay or nay?