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London Belongs To Me (1945)

by Norman Collins(Favorite Author)
4.17 of 5 Votes: 4
0141442336 (ISBN13: 9780141442334)
Penguin Books
review 1: It seems unfitting to describe this Moby Dick sized novel as a 'slice of life'. 'Slab of life' seems more appropriate, and not just because of its bulk.London Belongs to Me concerns the tenants of a South London lodging house between Christmas 1938 and Christmas 1940. We are well beyond the halfway point before war is declared. Up until then we are made privy to the lives of one of the most vibrant sets of characters I have ever come across. Our familiarity with their domestic ups-and-downs means that when “the long shadow of war” finally catches up with them, and the young men start disappearing from the streets, it feels like an earthquake.This is a book which pays many courtesies to its reader. The prose is slick and conversational, but also frequently beautiful. Th... moree narrative voice is pally and confiding, sometimes addressing us directly as we peek behind the blackout curtains of Dulcimer Street. The chapters are brief and divided into numbered parts, so we're never more than a page or two from a break, making it perfect for bedtime reading. And even in the story's darkest moments, it is peppered with jokes and shot through with humanity and affection.This deserves to be far more widely read. Now I have finished it, I miss it.
review 2: I read London Belongs to Me hot on the heels of Patrick Hamilton's Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky and, as with that urban life, it is London that really shines as the star of the book.Interestingly (at least to me), I live and have lived in the neighbourhoods depicted in both books; Hamilton's Fitzrovia and Collins' Kennington. The suburbs south of the river might be less salubrious than Soho, but they are brought to life with the same colour and, despite the fact that the book depicts life in the 30s, there's still much for a local to recognise in the descriptions - right down to the bus routes, which made me smile.Anyway, enough comparing the two. It took me quite a while to get into this book and even once I did, I didn't particularly like any of the characters - except poor, put-on Mr Josser.Connie was an annoying busybody beyond compare, Mrs Josser was mean, Mr Puddy's comedy fat-man voice grated and Percy deserved what he got.But then... By the time war broke out, I cared deeply for all of them and became increasingly fond of them all. I worried about whether they'd survive the war, I wanted them to be happy and I wanted to hear how their stories ended.This really is a brilliantly-written book - I'm just annoyed it took me the best part of six weeks to make any progress in it, because I devoured the second half in less than three days! less
Reviews (see all)
Could not get into this book. Must be missing something but gave up after reading only 50- odd pages
Truly Fantastic. A must read for all Brits, enjoyed best with copious amounts of tea!
Just a slow soap opera. Boring. Should have abandoned it earlier.
Absolutely loved it!
1938-40 London
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