One of the best ways to become familiar with a city before your trip is to read about it! For my upcoming vacation to Lisbon, Portugal, I did precisely that. From thrillers to a bit of history, here are my three favorite books about Lisbon.
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Night Train to Lisbon takes place in the capital during the years of the Salazar dictatorship in Portugal (1928-1974). As you can guess, this is a turbulent time in the nation’s history. Raymond Gregorius, the main character, experiences a chance encounter that leads him to leave his comfortable life in Switzerland on a night train to Lisbon. Intrigued by a particular novel he’s come across by Amadeu de Prado, Gregorius becomes obsessed with knowing more about the author. After reaching Lisbon, he begins to investigate who Prado was, and in the process, begins a journey of soul-searching.
Barry Hatton’s book was a perfect read before visiting Portugal for the first time. His insights about Portuguese history help the reader to understand the Portuguese during the present and why they are the way they are. His detailed account of the past made me feel connected to the Portuguese. This book is packed with information, so you may want to take it slowly. Nonetheless, for those considering moving to Portugal as an expat, The Portuguese: A Modern History is a must-read.
A Small Death in Lisbon is a suspense novel taking place both in 1941 and 1999. The 1941 narrative follows a German, Klaus Felsen, who finds himself forced into working for the SS in Portugal. Meanwhile, in 1999, a girl has been found dead on a beach in Lisbon. Ze Coelho, a Portuguese police inspector, delves into the details of why this murder took place. Readers will be immersed in two different periods of Portuguese history: that of neutral Portugal during WWII and the years taking place after the end of the Salazar dictatorship.