Atlantic Monthly recently asked readers and celebrities which fictional city ( or locale) they would most like to live in. These were some of the responses:
London from J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. a world like ours, only more delightful.
Rivendell. Featured in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, it is the home of elves, a timeless realm hidden in a valley.
Atlantis. Plato’s fictional island that sank beneath the ocean waves.
Gotham, home of the comic book hero, Batman
Bedrock, home of the Flintstones.
The island from the TV series Lost.
Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland where Alice has all those adventures.
Dr. Seuss’s Who-ville.
Innisfree, the scenic Irish village that John Wayne retires to in The Quiet Man. (In reality, there is an uninhabited island of the same name in Lough Gill, near Sligo, Ireland that is the subject of a poem by W.B. Yeats.)
Some of these choices strike me as strange. Gotham may be the home of Batman and Robin, but arch-villains The Joker, the Riddler, and others live there too and it is always depicted as being a very dark place. Wonderland is a weird, vaguely menacing place as I remember it. As for the island from Lost, it doesn’t have any mod con. Definitely not for me!
If this question had been asked fifty or sixty years ago, I have no doubt that Shangri- La would have been the number one response. It is a mythical place, an earthly paradise hidden from modern man and located somewhere in the mountains of Tibet. It was the brainchild of the British novelist, James Hilton, and is featured in his 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. With the passage of time, the novel and its author have faded from memory, as has the name Shangri- La.
My own choice would be Darrowby, the fictional village in North Riding, Yorkshire where the beloved veterinarian James Herriot lived and worked. It is a composite of four other villages in the area. Herriot combined their characteristics into the fictional Darrowby because he did not want his life disrupted by admirers of his books. It was a good idea because even today, years after his death, busloads of tourists descend upon these villages to get a glimpse of the setting for his wonderful stories. Apparently, I am only one of many who were charmed by his description of the life of a village vet. Doing the work one loves and earning a comfortable living, secure in the love of family, having the respect and friendship of neighbors and living a peaceful life in a scenic, beautiful English village… Isn’t that what we all would love?