My Photo

Bookish Places


Blog powered by Typepad

« There's No Home by Alexander Baron | Main | Short Story Sunday: The Body-Snatcher »



Just off the top of my head, The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman and Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch. Oh and various Peter Ackroyd books such as Thames, Sacred River and London Under. As you say though, there must be 'hundreds'. And I know I'll think of more once I press 'post'. Oh yes, Walk the Lines by Mark Mason about walking the tube 'overground'. Have fun with this!

Liz F

I have The House on the Thames on my shelves, unread you won't be surprised to hear, and I did have Three Houses, Many Lives from the library at one point but it didn't fit the bill for what I wanted to read at the time so I returned it unfinished.
I loved Hearts and Minds, Offshore and Brick Lane and I will second Cath's recommendation of both Diana Norman and the Ben Aaronovitch books (the latter are great fun) but despite a number of attempts I have never managed to get into White Teeth.
As recommendations: if you are interested in suburban London between the wars and during WW2 then R F Delderfield's Avenue books (The Dreaming Suburb and The Avenue Goes to War) are wonderfully readable as is Norman Collins' London Belongs to Me while in crime novels Laura Wilson's books about Det Insp Ted Stratton which start in wartime and continue into the 1950's are very good. The first one is Stratton's War.

That should keep you going for a bit!


Nice list. There is also London: The Novel by Edward Rutherford. I read his novel Sarum about the history of Salisbury and really liked it. Haven't gotten to London yet though. Then there is London: A Biography by Peter Ackroyd, a book I bought while on the only trip to London I've ever had. Haven't read it yet though.

Margaret Powling

Like Liz F, I have this book (again unread!) on my bookshelves! I loved the novels of Gillian Tindall and bought this simply because she wrote it. Must take it down and dust it off! I have at least two other of her non-fiction books still unread!

Christine Harding

You're spoilt for choice!For a book about London I second London Under, by Peter Ackroyd,which is a magical read, and for wartime London you couldn't do better than Vere Hodgson's diary.

For books set in London what about Muriel Spark - The Girls of Slender Means, The Ballad of Peckham Rye, and A Far Cry from Kensington? And there's Beryl Bainbridge's According to Queenie, Alice Thomas Ellis' The 27th Kingdom, and Elizabeth Taylor's Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, which was in the Cromwell Road, where the Fossil sisters also lived in Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes.


Thanks Cath! These are great. I remember when you wrote about the Mason book as I noted it and now am going to buy it--it sounds great. The rest I've added to my wishlist. And I am sure I'll be able to find Peter Ackroyd's books here as well. My library has his London Underground so I will look for it tomorrow when I swap out library books!


Indeed it shall! I recognize a few of the titles you suggest--I have the first Delderfield (somewhere...) as well as his God is an Englishman, which I suspect is set somewhere else in the UK. Now I think I will at least go find the Norman Collins book which I bought some time ago. This might just mess up my travel reading plans (at least...may add one of the books to my pile...). And I have a few of Laura Wilson's books--as yet unread, too! I have a feeling I will love Hearts and Minds and haven't a clue why I've not gotten around to reading it yet! Zadie Smith is always someone I mean to read as well, but I suppose she seems a little formidable, which is why I've not yet gotten around to her! Thanks--as always wonderful suggestions--I have a feeling I have loads more good books on London on my shelves that just didn't come to mind, so this is really helpful! Now it is going to really bug me not knowing what I did with the Delderfield--I recall getting it at a library book sale...


Oh yes. I have never read an Edward Rutherford book, but I always mean to. I think I took Sarum with me to London one of the times I went, but he went so far back in history I don't think I ever managed to get past the stone age! I am going to look for the Ackroyd book in the library tomorrow--why do I think it is going to be a massive book?!


All these many unread books we have! :) And I am one of the very worst offenders! I take it you enjoy Gillian's writing? I am happy that I bought it now--her books really do look very good. And I love social histories of this sort!


I am generally spoilt for choice when it comes to good books--why I so often get myself into trouble! I have only read The Girls of Slender Means and the Elizabeth Taylor book--both of which I really liked. The others sound good, too. I have long wanted to try Alice Thomas Ellis--so am off to check out her book in particular. Thanks!

Christine Harding

Danielle, If you like Muriel Spark then I think you would enjoy Alice Thomas Ellis - she's another sharp, satiric writer who can say a lot a few words, and there is a very dark comic edge to her work. Do try her!

vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

I'm loving everyone's suggestions. Books I've read this year that were particularly Londony (Londonish?!) are Elizabeth Bowen's The Heat of the Day, and George Gissing's The Odd Women. I'm sure there must be more, but the city seemed prominent in these rather than just an incidental setting.


I can't add any suggestions regarding London specifically (you already have 84 Charing Cross Road on your list!), but I highly recommend Susan Allen Toth's three books about England in general--collections of essays about her trips to England, "with forays into Scotland and Wales." The first one is My Love Affair With England, and I warn you that you will want to pack your packs and go after reading her words.


The Provincial Lady books are wonderful (and the New Yorker essay on their author E.M. Delafield too). An abridged version of Boswell's Life of Johnson -- one of the funniest books I've ever read. HV Morton's post-war books In Search of England and In Search of London, combining travelogue, history, and personal idiosyncrasies -- highly readable. Anything by Dorothy Whipple.

Jean | Delightful Repast

I love books about London and novels set in London. I so enjoyed Imagined London. As Kathy mentioned, 84 Charing Cross Road is excellent. Christine recommended The Girls of Slender Means, one I've never heard of but I'm intrigued by the title. Looks like I have a LOT of reading to do (as soon as I can break away from the kitchen!). Looking forward to cool autumn days, curled up with a good book and a pot of tea and with the aroma of baking bread (or pie) wafting around the house!

Amanda R.

I cannot think anything off the top of my head, but I love your list idea. I love themed list and I'm sure that has nothing to do with working in a library. ;-)


NW by Zadie Smith also features London as a character. I think, too, that you would like the Bryant and May mysteries by Christopher Fowler - each features a different aspect of London - pubs, theatre, and the underground rivers. Really fun reads and I know you like a good mystery.


I read The House on the Thames after finding it in a London book market, on the same day we had walked by the house; serendipity! I just loved it but found her newest book to be not as well written and difficult to follow; it concerns three houses and jumps around, in both time periods and locations, a lot. That said, I will definitely be on the lookout for her fiction. The above titles sound great, some I have read and some not, so lots to add to my tbr list. I would like to suggest London Bridges by Jane Stevenson for the 'life in London' fiction list. It is really good; I discovered it through dovegreyreader when she did a London list a few years ago. Happy vacation.


Wonderful--I am going to look for her books in my library--or when I am book shopping on vacation. I like the sound of her already--especially if she is anything like Muriel Spark whose work I very much admire!


London is a much used setting--so much so that it is almost a cliche, but sometimes it is just so very perfect and integral to the story, which is just the sort of thing I am looking for! I love everyone's suggestions, too, and will have to corral them all into one long list and then post them here. I really need to finish reading that Bowen--I started it earlier this year and it was set aside. Maybe I should take *it* with me on vacation! And I have heard good things about that Gissing, which I know I own and sits somewhere on a shelf!


I have read one of Susan Allen Toth's England books--I think she has more than one, doesn't she? I also have her memoirs of growing up--I think she grew up in Iowa in the 1950s? I have all of them on hand and they sound totally absorbing! Of course 84, Charing Cross Road is wonderful and a favorite of mine!


Do you know not long ago I was contemplating picking up a Dorothy Whipple book--now I don't remember which book I picked up instead (too many books always whirling around in my mind!), but I do love her writing. I have a couple of the Provincial Lady books, and I think I might have the one set specifically in London--thanks for the reminder. I don't know the Morton book, so am happy to have a totally new to me title, which I am off to look up now--thanks! The Boswell, I have heard of and what a great choice, too. I'm going to have to look up the New Yorker essay--I have access to their archives--was it just recently they wrote about her?


That sounds so nice--a book, a warm house (from a full oven) and something tasty to eat and drink! It's the little things in life, don't you think? Imagined London sounds great--and I love Anna Quindlen anyway! I really liked The Girls of Slender Means when I read it--sort of quirky, but quirky can be good!


You know how it you will start seeing books set in or about London all over the place! I will put together all the titles and share them here later. Ah yes, me and lists and libraries--they do indeed all go together. I think library people truly are inveterate list makers.


Another Zadie Smith book I must read. I don't know why I've not yet picked up any of her books but am adding NW to my wishlist--I had heard good things about it in any case. The Bryant and May mysteries are new to me and they sound great. And I see there are lots of them. Now I wish I had one on hand now to take with me on vacation--I shall be ordering a few--many thanks for the suggestion! (Maybe I will look for them While I am ON vacation! :) ).


I love that sort of serendipity! The house must be a private home? How cool would that be to live there now? So I think I will start with The House on the Thames. I didn't realize that she also wrote fiction--I haven't gotten a chance to look beyond these NF reads. Do you know I have London Bridges--didn't realize it until I looked up the title and saw the cover design--it is in one of my bins! Now, to drag bins around to pull it out....and I will have to look up DGR's list, too! I wonder if I printed it out, as now that you mention it it sounds familiar, too! Yikes--so much to remember and I swear it just get shuffled around in my head!


Sorry! Didn't mean to complicate things!
This post has brought up a lot of books that I haven't read or even heard of so I will be doing some more research myself and I may have to go in search of my Delderfields although I have a nasty feeling that they might be in a box at the back of the attic!

Thomas at My Porch

So many, but without going back to my book list, the one that comes to mind is London Holiday by Richard Peck.

Kristen M.

Christopher Fowler's Peculiar Crimes Unit series is what got me on my London reading jag this summer. They really bring the city to life even though they're "just" mysteries.


Such lovely lists and suggestions from everyone. I have the House on The Thames too, as well as another two of Tindall's books, one of which is The Man Who Drew London. I think you might be interested in that one. Others that come to mind are Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway, and most of Dickens' works, I guess.


I had to look this up right away and seeing the cover and description I swear I have read it, too. Which sadly says something about my poor memory. It looks like one worth rereading if I can find my copy of it--thanks for the reminder!


They do sound good! I have seen the books around but I haven't picked them up to read about them properly--now wishing I had. But better to come to them late than never at all. Sometimes it's all about timing and now they sound hugely appealing to me--so I am going to be on the look out for the first--maybe I will spot it on vacation! I love books that are so good they inspire a whole reading project/reading jag (love that term).


I was thinking about Dickens--he really is a London writer, isn't he?! I have read Mrs. Dalloway about three times now, but it's still one I could easily revisit-each time I think I will "get it" better than the last. See, I didn't even remember that it is set in London. I do hate it that stories are not more firmly impressed in my brain!! I will look up The Man Who Drew London--didn't see that one before but then I guess I didn't look through all of her books. More to discover--thanks! :) And yes, this has been a great way to find more good suggestions.


Nicci French's latest series is set in London and the city is quite important in it. There are so many London novels but I seem not to be able to remember any others.


I really must get around to reading Nicci French as she is really up my alley. I think there are loads of good crime novels set in London. I am sure I have loads more on hand, too, but I know what you mean by not many of them coming to mind (that's why it's nice to get recommendations here--if everyone mentions one or two I end up with a nice long list!).

The comments to this entry are closed.

Books Read in 2020

Books Read in 2019

Books Read in 2018

Books Read in 2017

Books Read in 2016

Books Read in 2015