Five Books to Read in London This Summer
History, contrast and imagination course through the capital, from the splendour of the palaces to the wit in its pop-ups. So it’s no wonder that countless books are set in London. We pick five of the best, where to read them and the ideal BlakeLDN piece for each. Capital by John Lanchester A big, sprawling page-turner set in one smart Clapham street, charting the lives of its inhabitants and those who work there. If you live in London, you’ll recognise every single character : the city banker and his wife, the nanny, the builder, the traffic warden, but we get behind each one’s image to become part of their story and inner life. An intelligent, pacy and entertaining read that will really make you think. Read it here : Settle into a corner of south London’s haven, The Peace Pagoda at Battersea Park. Wear: Friay Sweater
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell A beautiful, intriguing book examining memory and how the past entwines with and informs the present. Lexie runs away from rural Devon to live a bohemian life in 1950’s Soho, and O’Farrell transports us back to the creativity of the writers, artists and revolutionaries of the time who were on the cusp of a cultural transformation. Read it Here : soak up the atmosphere of Soho days gone by in Maison Bertaux, a London institution since 1871 serving the most divine cakes and patisserie, with nooks and corners just right for devouring this book. Wear: The Grove in black
Brick Lane by Monica Ali No London novel list would be complete without Brick Lane. Ali’s extraordinary debut centres around Nazneen, a young Bangladeshi woman trying to assimilate from her village into an East End tower block. It captures the friction, chaos and elation of multi-cultural London life in the 1980’s, which still resonates today. Read it here: You could try any one of the numerous cafes on and around Brick Lane, but it’s worth a stroll to London Fields to enjoy this book by the plane trees or pretty urban meadow. Wear : York Bomber
NW by Zadie Smith Arguably a modern Dickens, Smith captures the complexity of the city’s characters and culture in a powerful tale of North London young adults struggling with modern life. Nuanced, clever and at times as winding as the Thames, NW, like London, draws you in. Read it here : A Bloomsbury gem, the London Review Bookshop cafe serves delightful cakes with its literary cred. Ms. Smith would approve. Wear: Haiku.
The Square by Rosie Millard Released on August 1st by journalist, broadcaster and writer Rosie Millard, The Square is a sharp, hilarious romp set in leafy Hampstead. Funny, timely and beautifully observed. Read it here : Settle down on Primrose Hill, the peak of North London, perfect for character spotting. Wear :Trinity Sweater