'Nothing can happen nowhere. The locale of the happening always colours the happening and often, to a degree, shapes it ...' - Elizabeth Bowen. This compelling study explores the way the great themes of English and French fiction in the past two centuries have been expressed through writers' sense of place. Gillian Tindall shows how familiar landscapes - whether Yorkshire moors or Paris streets - can acquire the force of powerful metaphors: rural scenes which embody regret for a golden past; cities which come to stand, paradoxically, both for decay and alienation and for hopes of a new life; country houses which survive in the memory as repositories of youthful dreams, spiritual mansions of the soul. A subtle and complex argument develops, through illuminating and detailed reading of a host of novelists, from Dickens and Zola to Alain Fournier and Evelyn Waugh. The result is a highly original view of two complementary cultures, a book which asks us to take a fresh look at the way in which writers map out and inhabit their own particular countries of the mind.