Don’t blur the lines

30 July 2011
Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground Mark Mason

Random House, pp.376, 12.99

Did you know that on the Central Line’s maiden journey to Shepherd’s Bush, one of the passengers was Mark Twain? Or that The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Sign… Read more


Talking about regeneration

23 July 2011
Ghost Milk Iain Sinclair

416, pp.20, 9780241144350

Iain Sinclair, the London novelist and poet, is always on the move. From the industrial sumplands of Woolwich to the jagged riversides of Gravesend, he rakes unfrequented zones for literary… Read more

Rage against the tagine: Capital mistake

30 June 2011

There’s nothing like following a theme: playing it safe, being on-message. Thus, we hear endlessly — from Michelin-starred chefs to their adoring throng — the mantra that ‘London is restaurant… Read more

We are the past

4 June 2011
Then Julie Myerson

Cape, pp.296, 12.99

Julie Myerson’s eighth novel is told by a woman who roams the City of London after an unspecified apocalypse (no power, bad weather). Julie Myerson’s eighth novel is told by… Read more


Deep, dark mysteries

4 June 2011
London Under Peter Ackroyd

Chatto, pp.192, 12.99

The Stones of London: A History of Twelve Buildings Leo Hollis

Weidenfeld, pp.456, 25

For Peter Ackroyd, the subterranean world holds a potent allure. London Under, his brief account of the capital’s catacombs and other murky zones, manages to radiate a dark mystery and… Read more


Liquid hideaways

7 April 2011

Last year, in a nod towards austerity, I gave up my membership to Milk and Honey, a cocktail club in Soho. I rationalised that as a non-member, I could still… Read more

Bookends: Capital rewards

26 March 2011

London has been the subject of more anthologies than Samuel Pepys had hot chambermaids. This is fitting, as an anthology’s appeal — unexpected juxtaposition — matches that of the capital… Read more

Desk-bound traveller

5 March 2011
The London Satyr Robert Edric

Doubleday, pp.367, 16.99

The Lives of the Savages Robert Edric

P.S. Publishing, pp.126, 11.99

With a new novel each year, Robert Edric cannot have much time for courting London’s literary establishment, but does he stay at home in East Yorkshire? The London Satyr is… Read more


Enlightened patronage

12 February 2011

Alberto Della Ragione (1892–1973) was a naval engineer from Genoa with a passion for music, poetry and the visual arts; he also had the collecting bug. Alberto Della Ragione (1892–1973)… Read more

The road to ruins

11 December 2010

Director Patrick Keiller made his name with London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997), semi-documentaries recounting the peripatetic investigations into ‘the problem of England’ conducted by the unseen narrator and… Read more

Now for the real examination

27 November 2010

If William Beveridge were commissioned to write another report into Britain’s social ills, he would find that two of his ‘giant evils’ — ignorance and idleness — still stalk and… Read more


Something filthy by return

11 September 2010
Nourishment Gerard Woodward

Picador, pp.338, 14.99

Gerard Woodward’s Nourishment opens in second world war London. Gerard Woodward’s Nourishment opens in second world war London. Tory Pace, a tired and drawn ‘mother-of-three and wife-to-one’, works alongside other… Read more


Architect of cool

11 September 2010
Zero History William Gibson

Viking, pp.404, 18.99

More than quarter of a century later, 1984 remains firmly fixed in the future, fiction having provided a more vivid view than our memories of the year which actually happened.… Read more


No love lost

31 July 2010
In Office Hours Lucy Kellaway

Penguin/ Fig Tree, pp.342, 12.99

I Think I Love You Allison Pearson

Chatto, pp.358, 12.99

There is chick lit, or witless, ill-written, juvenile popular fiction, and then there is superior chick lit, which is smart and amusing and written for grown ups. Both these novels… Read more


Low dishonest dealings

21 April 2010
At the Chime of a City Clock D. J. Taylor

Constable & Robinson, pp.242, 12.99

The strange, unsettled decades between the wars form the backdrop of much of D. J. Taylor’s recent work, including his novel, Ask Alice, and his social history, Bright Young Things.… Read more


The spaced-out years

10 March 2010
London Calling Barry Miles

Atlantic Books, pp.468, 25

Barry Miles came to London in the Sixties to escape the horsey torpor of the Cotswolds in which he grew up. Known at first only as ‘Miles’, he worked at… Read more

Behind the white face

11 November 2009
The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi Andrew McConnell Stott

Canongate, pp.352, 20

Has there ever been a more compelling period in London’s history than the first years of the 19th century? Has there ever been a more compelling period in London’s history… Read more

All washed-up

23 September 2009
Ordinary Thunderstorms William Boyd

Bloomsbury, pp.403, 18.99

Ordinary Thunderstorms is a thriller with grand ambitions. It is set in contemporary London, much of the action taking place on or near the Thames. The timeless, relentless river represents… Read more

The great Russian takeaway

19 August 2009
Londongrad Mark Hollingsworth & Stewart Lansley

Fourth Estate, pp.402, 12.99

That the rise of a powerful coterie of Russian billionaires overlapped with Britain’s transformation into an offshore tax-haven is unlikely to escape the notice of both countries’ future historians. Indeed… Read more

Living the pagan idyll

29 April 2009
Frances Partridge Anne Chisholm

Weidenfeld, pp.402, 25

For years an intimate friend of my mother Rachel Cecil, Frances Partridge inhabits my memory from early childhood. Before she reached 50, her dark, delicate skin was already seamed with… Read more


The invisible man

4 March 2009
Strangers Anita Brookner

Penguin Fig Tree, pp.202, 16.99

Bleak, bleak, bleak. Anita Brookner’s new novel, Stran- gers, is unlikely to inspire resolutions to self-improvement or even cathartic tears. But its main character, a retired bank manager called Paul… Read more


Loved and lost

25 February 2009
Hackney, That Rose Red Empire Iain Sinclair

Hamish Hamilton, pp.581, 20

Iain Sinclair is as dark as London scribes come. Engaged in a lifelong literary project, he records his own psychic and physical travels around the city, identifying what he calls… Read more