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Lark

It's nice when a book can capture a sense of place as well as it sounds like this one has. Did reading it make you want to go to England and take a tour around Chelsea and see all those places for yourself? It would have me.

Janakay

Danielle: what a nice review! It really makes me regret passing on that anniversary set. Like Lark, I love books that capture a sense of time and place, which are much more important to me than the plot itself (not that I don't like a good plot as well). In a bit of free association (no doubt brought on by its title), have you ever read Muriel Spark's "A Far Cry From Kennsington'? It's set in south Kennsington in the immediate post-war era and is told from the point of view (and as a reminisence of) a young war widow who works for a on-the-verge-of bankruptcy publisher of "quality" books. Like most of Spark's works, it's concerned with some pretty heavy themes, but it's also very, very funny and very readable. It's been many years since I dipped into it, but I recall it as superbly evoking that particular atmosphere of post-war London and a particular time in the narrator's life (I believe the novel is at least somewhat autobiographical).
On a different note---did you have the time/opportunity to take a class this semester? You were studying some interesting stuff, as I recall!

Danielle

I think she captured the time a little more vividly than the place--though certainly I get a feel for the social atmosphere! I seem, however, to find references to Chelsea popping up in other books now--isn't that weird when that happens?!

Danielle

I love these books for that reason--getting a feel for London, but each author brings something a little different to their book, too. I love Muriel Spark and was just thinking about her and that I need to pick up another of her books. I read Far Cry From Kensington several years ago and so much of the story has faded from my memory but I recall bits of it. It is one I would happily reread. I love that era and this is the sort of thing I am interested int--that vivid setting. And London in general is such a great 'character'! I am not taking any literature classes right now, sadly. I wish something had worked out with my schedule-those Israeli lit classes were sort of special as there was a visiting professor but he only had a year grant which is finished now. I am, however, taking a Yoga II class so I am learning other things and getting to do yoga, which I really love!

LizF

As someone who was a teen in the 70's, I can only think that Heads and Straights must have been terminology from the Chelsea set which didn't migrate thirty miles north to Bedfordshire where I grew up because I don't recall having heard the terms before. Not that we didn't have the former - there was a corner of the sixth form common room which was forever shrouded in a certain type of smoke - and I'm sure I would definitely have been classed as a straight although never remotely a Sloane!
I have been investing in a few of the books from the series mainly because junior son and his girlfriend are going to be in the capital for at least three more years due to work commitments and I will hopefully going to visit them at least a couple of times a year all being well.
The first to arrive is the Richard Mabey which I am in the process of reading now and very much enjoying.
To think I would have missed them if it wasn't for your mention!

Stefanie

Another underground book success! Is this the third one? How many are there?

iliana

This is such an interesting set! So yes, how many more are in the collection? Looking forward to your next review!

Heather

This sounds like a really pleasing read. I saw these Underground books in a shop when I was visiting London a few years ago, and I bought the Leanne Shapton one, though I haven't read it yet. I think one of my travelling companions bought this one, though I can't remember for sure - I should pester him/ask him to let me borrow his copy, if he did!

Danielle

Actually it is the second though I think I may have mentioned the third which is sitting on my nightstand and which I have read a page or two of. Must get going on it now that I have written about this one.

Danielle

There are a dozen books in the set--one for each underground line. They are fun and totally unexpected since each author could write about whatever she or he wanted. I am on to a nature one by Richard Mabey next!

Danielle

You guys could swap books! I can't remember which one Leanne wrote--I will get to it eventually! How lucky to have been able to buy it in London! It would be fun to read the books, and travel each underground line as well--a little day trip for visuals!

Danielle

I had never heard that slang either and just assumed it was a British thing. I have heard 'heads' referred to druggies. I seem to keep seeing references to Chelsea now and must google it for images. And Sloanes are 'richies' right? How lucky to be able to travel to London--I wish I could go back. I am glad to have brought them to your attention. I have the Mabey pulled out and ready to go just have not had a chance to start reading yet....

LizF

Sadly haven't got any further with the Mabey as yet as I managed to misplace it for a while but as it turned up this morning, I will hopefully get back to reading it fairly quickly.

Sloanes were so called because they generally lived in and around Sloane Square and yes they were from the wealthier end of London society - the late Princess of Wales was classed as an archetypal Sloane before her marriage. Female Sloane style was velvet hairbands, strings of pearls, up-turned shirt collars and taffeta ballgowns - more an 80's thing than a 70's one I think!
After all that, I think that I really have to read this book!

I do enjoy visiting London and staying with my son and his girlfriend and I think that James likes showing me places that they have discovered. I don't think I would want to live there now though - after a few days of rushing around I am usually quite happy to get back to my small-town-mouse life!

Danielle

I would Love to go back to London to visit--it seems like a city with endless things to do and places to explore, but I imagine it must be really really expensive to live there. I thought the Sloane reference was familiar--as you describe it, it sounds very 80s, which is when I was in high school and I still vividly remember getting up early to watch Princess Di's wedding! I have also not picked up the Mabey lately--and same reason--to many other bookish distractions. My own fault, but I will carve out some reading time eventually!

LizF

It's not the cheapest city to live in that's for sure, or to visit. I am lucky that I can stay with my son and his girlfriend and as they are only a ten minute walk from the tube station, it is quite quick and easy to get into central London.
A lot of the places like the British Museum, the V&A and the National Gallery are still free to get into and of course you can always go somewhere like Covent Garden and sit and people watch for a while if the weather is good.
Last time I was there I actually tracked down the Persephone shop which turned out to be just around the corner from where Francina works and that was me in seventh heaven - it is a lovely place but absolutely tiny!

Danielle

How dangerous to go to the Persephone bookstore--it looks quite quaint and as if it has quite a lot of personality! Maybe someday I will actually be able to go back there. I love the V&A and the Portrait Gallery. It is kind of nice to just people watch too. I imagine you could spend a lot of time just walking and seeing and enjoying all for free!

LizF

I have never been in another bookshop like it - it is simply wonderful and the staff are absolutely lovely.
I think I was saved from myself by having gone there with my son so I came out with just one book, which was probably a good thing as developing a Persephone habit
would be seriously dangerous to the bank account (things of beauty don't come cheap!)
It is well worth a visit though and worth the hour we spent hanging around in a coffee shop because it didn't open until late morning!

Danielle

Sounds like a perfect way to spend a morning. I am sure it would be hugely tempting to walk away with a stack of books, but I could not afford more than one or two in any case. Do they have other books there as well--or other gifty items? Or just Persephone books? Imagine working in such a place! I know one or two people who have nearly the whole run of books--how nice that would be. Since I have two piles, I should consider myself lucky--and I have not even read all of them so shouldn't even contemplate trying to fill in gaps unless I am dedicatedly reading through what I already own.

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