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24 February 2010

Famous Last Words

The idea of the story of a city being told by watching the different groups of immigrants who move there is interesting and uniquely suited to New York. The same concept wouldn't work for London, for example.
So I said yesterday on Edward Rutherfurd's novel New York. Naturally, this evening as I stepped off the Tube, I was almost knocked over by a woman holding a weighty paperback entitled London and of course, the author was indeed Edward Rutherfurd. Walking back from dinner at Le Relais de Venise tonight (as ever, there was a huge queue out of the door, despite the inclement weather), we noticed that Daunt Books was open (someone was giving a talk) and went in for a browse. I made a beeline for the R section of fiction and found Rutherfurd's London. I didn't get time to read the blurb properly but, according to Amazon,

London has perhaps the most remarkable history of any city in the world. Now, its story has a unique voice. In this epic novel, Edward Rutherfurd takes the reader on a magnificent journey across sixteen centuries from the days of the Romans to the Victorian engineers of Tower Bridge and the era of Dockland development today. Through the lives and adventures of his colourful cast of characters, he brings all the richness of London's past unforgettably to life.
Is London's history more remarkable than that of New York? I suppose I will have to read London to find out--it's only 784 pages, after all. It's interesting that in the blurb, the building of Tower Bridge is highlighted, which reminds me that the building of Brooklyn Bridge didn't really feature at all in New York (the difficulties of crossing the bridge in a blizzard does become a plot point in one chapter, however), although the construction of the Chrysler and the Empire State Building comes up.

I think I'll read a few shorter novels to rebuild my motivation before tackling London or at least buy the paperback!

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