a) where is the action taking place?
b) who is the author? Blackwell's Bookshops will give pounds 30 worth of book- tokens to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, "Independent on Sunday", 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by this Thursday.
We ate dinner in the capacious and almost empty dining-room, listening to the laughter and hullabaloo of general enjoyment coming from the outside bar - for that is packed every night, even when bars inside the hotel remain underused. That night the hotel was enclosed in a hush of rain, but by morning the rain had become mist. We drove around and around mountains, each known intimately to the two men who had walked over them. Then, from the mountains, to the Bridal Veil Falls. (In every part of the world savagely beautiful falls of water are diminished and domesticated by being called bridal veils.) The water smashes, crashes, plunges, in cascades of white hundreds of feet over rocks into a pool. On either side of the falls are steep escarpments full of the homes of birds, and the place is enclosed in that silence that is made by a continuous rushing noise. Banana trees grow there showing all the cycles of their lives. For when they have flowered at last they die: new saplings spring up among giants whose sagging limbs show they are due to rejoin the soil. They have red ribs and a glossy jewelled look. We were sitting on a grassy lawn between rocks when the Coffee Farmer remarked, "During the War a bunch of 'terrs' murdered some tourists here. The locals won't come near the place. Just near where you are sitting actually." We did not rise to this. Whatever vibrations of fear or horror there were have long ago left this place: a more exquisite one cannot exist. Besides, we remarked there must be few places in the world where there have not been murders, battles, deaths. Also, of course, love, kisses, picnics and good times.
Literally Lost 45: The book was 'Eothen' by Alexander Kinglake. The location was the Dead Sea, Israel. The winner is Mrs M D Sheehan of Wrexham.