Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books Set Outside the USA

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly link up hosted by The Broke & the Bookish. It\’s Wednesday here in Australia so I\’m late. This week the topic is: Ten Books Set Outside the U.S.A. Here are some that I\’ve enjoyed and I\’ve linked to any previous reviews I\’ve written:


The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (1925)

This is an unusual and almost bizarre story that grabs you from the very first page. It is set partly in England but mostly in China and Hong Kong when the latter was under British rule in the 1920\’s.
Shallow but likeable in many ways; beautiful, outgoing and frivolous, twenty-five year old Kitty, afraid of being left on the shelf after spending her youth partying and flirting, and declining a number of marriage proposals, marries Walter Fane, an intense, introverted, young doctor. They go to live in Hong Kong where he has been working in bacteriology and while there Kitty becomes involved with a married man.
Walter discovers her unfaithfulness and forces Kitty to face the truth that her \’lover\’ had no intention of leaving his own wife and was just using her. Walter gives his wife an ultimatum whereby her only available option is to travel with him to a cholera ravaged outpost in China.
The story doesn\’t sound very appealing!! but I loved the author\’s writing and his exploration of Kitty\’s gradual awakening of conscience and development of character.
It is a little sad; Walter is a tragic sort of character. The ending wasn\’t perfect, but as good as it probably could be considering the circumstances. Overall, I think it\’s a very interesting and absorbing read.

The Bielski Brothers by Peter Duffy

In June 1941 Hitler\’s armies invaded Russia in what was known as Operation Barbarossa, and quickly advanced to the city of Novogrudek in Western Belarus where they began to impose regulations to control the Jewish population and set up the Novogrudek ghetto. This is the story of three Jewish  brothers who waged a guerilla warfare against the Nazis and created a \’Jerusalem in the woods.\’


Death of a Guru by Rabindranath R Maharaj

A fascinating and wonderfully engaging book first published in the 1970\’s at the height of Eastern Mysticism\’s introduction into the western world.


The House I Left Behind by Dr. Daniel Shayesteh

This book is a unique insight into the life of a practicing Muslim through the lens of a man raised in an Iranian (Persian) culture dominated by fundamentalist Islam (historically Iran has not always been Muslim and defended its Persian heritage for many years despite Arabic invasions).
It\’s the story of a man who desired democracy and economic justice for his country and believed the Iranian Revolution which deposed the Shah of Iran and opened the door for the rule of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 would be the means of accomplishing this.

I wrote a little about it here.


Cover Her Face by P.D James – written in 1962, this was P.D James\’s first novel. Her books give very picturesque descriptions of the English landscape.


Pied Piper by Nevil Shute – Shute is an author who never fails to please. His characters are just normal everyday sorts of people with their flaws and weaknesses, but he places them in exceptional circumstances that call upon all their resources. A very satisfying book with an unusual plot and twist at the end.


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque – the best book on World War I that I\’ve ever read. Written by a German who fought on the front and a book not to be missed!


The Tragedy of the Korosko by Arthur Conan Doyle

In 1895 the steamer, S.W. Korosko, set out from Shellal, a small village in Upper Egypt, with an assorted group of English, Irish and American tourists on board. Their intention was to travel up the two hundred miles of Nubian Nile, visiting the various points of interest along the way, but during one of their excursions they were kidnapped by a group of Arab dervishes and plunged into a world steeped in seventh century ideas and practice.


Nothing Else Matters by Patricia St. John – a young adult book set during the civil war in Lebanon during the 1970\’s.


Decision at Delphi by Helen McInnes – one of my favourite authors whose espionage books are set all through Europe.

17 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books Set Outside the USA

  1. I must read All is Quiet then…I've only read the first book, The Painted Veil, and I loved it. And, strangely, I even liked the movie better. The movie is different, and the differences suit the movie format, imo. (It's less harsh than the book, and it has less details, but it captures the relationships very well, and the photography is astonishing.


  2. All Quiet on the Western Front is great. When the hero is carrying his wounded friend, unaware that the friend just got shot and killed, and when he himself gets killed for reaching toward a butterfly. Best anti-war book I ever read, even better than Catch-22. My TTT.


  3. Now I MUST read it, because I love Catch-22. But Catch-22 is a war book and it isn't. It's a sarcastic critic of society too, and a more general look at life and death through the lens of some war air-force pilots in the island of Pianosa. Catch 22 is WWII though, and it's also an exercise in philosophy. I consider Catch 22 a book in the very peculiar books category, and I believe for what I have read, All is Quiet… is inside realistic novel.


  4. Lovely selection Carol!My husband has just completed \”All Quiet…\” and enjoyed it.We are reading some of your other recommendations like Doyle's Sir Nigel and the White Company… there is a family line up for this suggestion!I look forward to some of your other suggestions!Thanks for enriching our reading life!!Margaret


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s