We’ve asked the Inghams team working overseas and those in the UK to share the books and films that are keeping them entertained during lockdown. All our recommendations have an element of travel, because we’re simply obsessed!
From the light hearted films such as The Sound of Music to World War 2 diaries, there’s a whole mix depending on your mood or preference. We hope you can find some inspiration.
A farewell to Arms
The Book (1929) by Ernest Hemingway
This is a favourite of Melvin, our Product Manager. The unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield - this gripping, semiautobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep. Ernest Hemingway famously said that he rewrote his ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times to get the words right.
The Film (1932)
If you’re into old black and white war films then give this one a go, adapted from the novel and made into film in 1932, starring Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes and Adolphe Menjou.
This is one of my favourites, it’s set in the First World War on the Italian front in the Dolomites and then the couple escape in to Switzerland by boat on Lake Como, they then end up at Montreux. It’s quite the journey, in every sense of the word.
The Talented Mr. Ripley
The Book (1955) by Patricia Highsmith
Recommended by our Italy Product Manager, Laura. This 1955 Novel was written by Patricia Highsmith. Tom Ripley is a handsome young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a "sissy" by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamored with the wealthy world of his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive when Ripley is sent to Italy to bring back his libertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie's ambivalent feelings for Marge, a charming American dilettante.
The Film (1999)
This novel was adapted into a film in 1999 and has a stella cast including Matt Damon who plays Mr. Ripley, Jude Law who plays Dickie and Gwyneth Paltrow who plays Marge.
This gave me a real sense of adventure, you accompany Mr. Ripley on his journey through Italy, from the uncluttered 1950’s Venice Streets to the capital city of Rome. This novel/movie is all about wanting what you can’t have, whether that’s a person, a wardrobe, or a decadent expat existence. We all know that feeling right now, I enjoyed watching it play out and I was thinking about it for days after. That’s the sign of a good story, right?
War in Val d'Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944
The Book (1947) by Iris Origo
A favourite of Caroline, our Italy Operations Manager. In the Second World War, Italy was torn apart by German armies, civil war, and the Allied invasion. In a corner of Tuscany, one woman, Iris Origo—born in England and married to an Italian, kept a record of daily life in a country at war. Iris Origo’s powerful diary, War in Val d’Orcia, is the vivid account of what happened when a peaceful farming valley became a battleground. It is also a story of tragedy and suffering, of individual courage, generosity and heroism.
I came across this book when I was living in Montepulciano, I visited the beautiful garden and house called La Foce, where Iris Origo lived with her husband. After seeing this and hearing about her story, I just had to read the book and I was not disappointed. This is a precious and rare account of a person’s first-hand experience of war. The added bonus being that Iris is such a gifted writer and manages to write about life during the war as it actually happened. Without an ounce of self-pity, she details her empathy for the people around her and what she did to help.
The Sound of Music
The Film (1965)
Recommended by Helen, our Brand Executive. This is a movie you can watch over and over again, it tells the story of Maria played by Julie Andrews, who takes a job as governess to a large family while she decides whether to become a nun. She falls in love with the children and their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. He is ordered to accept a commission in the German navy, but he opposes the Nazis. He and Maria decide to flee from Austria with the children. The movie is accompanied by beautiful, catchy music and breath-taking scenery in Salzburg, Austria.
I love this film, it has everything you want – romance, humour, adventure and MUSIC. It really has stood the test of time, it’s 55 years old and just a few months ago I was dancing around the living room to this with my 2-year-old niece. One to watch with the whole family and will certainly put a smile on your face.
Slow Train to Switzerland
The Book (2013) by Diccon Bewes
Another favourite of Melvin’s. This novel details the tour that changed the way we travel. In the summer of 1863 seven people left London on a train that would take them on a thrilling adventure across the Alps. They were the Junior United Alpine Club and members of Thomas Cook's first Conducted Tour of Switzerland. For them it was an exciting novelty - it turned out to be the birth of mass tourism, and it started with the Swiss.
It’s fascinating to see the way travel has developed over the years. This story follows the diary of a Victorian lady who was on the first Thomas Cook tour of Switzerland in 1863 which the author follows 150 year later. They start in Chamonix, crossing over into Switzerland up to Lake Thun, Interlaken, Kleine Scheidegg, Grindelwald, Mont Rigi and Lucerne.
Murder on the Orient-Express
The Book (1934) by Agatha Christie
Recommended by Ellen, our CRM Executive. This classic was first published by Agatha Christie way in back in 1934. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks somewhere north of Belgrade. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer—in case he or she decides to strike again…
The Film (1974 + 2017)
There have been 2 adaptations of this famous novel, one in 1974 and the other in 2017. The most recent starred Kenneth Branagh, Penélope Cruz and Willem Dafoe.
After reading the novel I thought I would give the film a go during lock down and I loved it. It actually inspired my inner detective to put together a Murder Mystery for all my friends as opposed to the endless stream of quizzes. We had such a good laugh!
Under the Tuscan Sun
The Book (1996) by Frances Mayes
Recommended by Camilla, our Marketing Manager. This is an enchanting and lyrical look at the life, the traditions, and the cuisine of Tuscany. Frances Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. There were unexpected treasures at every turn - faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people. This novel has the lyrical voice of a poet, the eye of a seasoned traveler, and the discerning palate of a cook and food writer to invite readers to explore the pleasures of Italian life and to feast at her table.
The Film (2003)
The novel was adapted into a film in 2003, starring Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, Sandra Oh.
I read the book and envisioned the beautiful rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside and could almost taste the delicious Italian food and wine. When I watched the film, everything I had envisioned was brought to life and I loved it. It’s the perfect choice for an afternoon of escapism!