Friday, March 31, 2006

Imagined London: A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City by Anna Quindlen

Publisher Comments:

Quindlen has been to London countless times since, in the pages of books. From Dickensian London, rich with narrow alleyways and jocular street vendors, to the London of Conan Doyle and Margery Allingham, with its salt-of-the-earth police officers and crowded train stations. She visited Victoria Station, Hyde Park, Soho, and Kensington in her imagination long before ever setting foot in the city. By the time Quindlen actually visited London in 1995, it was less like an introduction and more like a homecoming. Here, she thought, is where Evelyn Waugh's bright young things danced until dawn. Here is where foolish Lydia Bennett eloped with the dastardly Wickham. Here is where Oliver Twist sought his fortune, and where Adam Dalgliesh has his private flat. New York, Paris, and Dublin are vividly portrayed in fiction, but London has always been the star, both because of the primacy of English literature and the specificity of the city's descriptions. In Imagined London, Quindlen walks through the city, moving within blocks from the great books of the 18th century to the detective stories of the 20th to the new modernist tradition of the 21st. Her book is about traveling and reading in a city in fact and a city in fiction and where and how the two cities intersect.

I took this book with me to London since I thought it would be an interesting read while there. I quickly learned that I have not read nearly enough British literature to know what and who Quindlen is talking about and therefore didn't really care about her "imagined London." I also found her sentence structure to be difficult to read at times and this book, which is fairly short-160 pages, took me three weeks to read. If you have read a lot of British lit---AHEM LINDSEY!!--then this is a book for you! I must say that there were bits and pieces of historical information strewn through that kept me interested for nanoseconds.

1 comment:

Lindsey Lou said...

I haven't read a lot of British lit, just a lot of romance novels set in England that were written by Americans.