on March 10, 2012
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read!
The author cleverly uses the voices of different Londoners to give insight into the city that offers so many different experiences. The voices range from young to old, rich to poor, upper class to working class, east Londoner to west Londoner, south Londoner to north Londoner, and British born to foreign born. All Londoners and visitors to the city will relate to some of the stories or glean some insight into the unusual culture and code of behaviour within London. The story is very current and seems to truly reflect London as it is now.
The book shows the conflict that can be experienced by those who live there; the balance between being frustrated by the everyday struggles such as the crowds, and unreliable transportation and the feeling of joy and endless possibility that exists within such a large, lively, and truly great city.
As a former Londoner I was excited to read about people who had experienced many of the same things that I had experienced. I was also fascinated by the stories from the people who work behind the scenes in London - those who keep it running. I can't wait to share this book with my friends who have always lived in London.
on September 3, 2012
My wife and I will be leaving shortly for our second trip to London, we are voracious readers and this book was on many lists of "must reads". So many books today are written by travel writers, they write about the many tourist attractions, not the everyday life. When I started to read the introduction, the fact that it was written by a Canadian who had lived out west and then moved to Toronto was an added bonus. One day a Torontonian will write a similar book about this large city, provincial capital of Ontario. Taylor over 5 years interviewed many Londoners and it was fascinating to read their comments. These are ordinary workaday people, not the upper crust and we seem to be inundated with the latest gossip about William, Harry, Kate and the rest of the Royal Family. The people interviewed portray a wide swath of Londoners, pilots, financial workers, Beef Eaters and lastly the undertakers. It was fascinating to read that many people who live, work and die in London, really have a hateful relationship with the city. Having just concluded the Summer Olympics and despite many naysayers the outcome was wonderful. The many volunteers did the city proud. This is an excellent book, well written and a must for anyone wishing to learn more about this fabulous city. We see this city through the eyes of it's citizens, those who love it, hate it, live it, live it, left it and long for it.
This was a brilliant idea to do interviews with people from across all walks of life who live or work in London. The shocking thing is how many absolutely hate the city (well, not just the City of London which is just the small business core, but Greater London) and how randomly violent and drunk so many of its inhabitants are. I can't imagine doing the same project on New York and finding so many negative opinions on their own city despite its faults. It just struck me as so very English and sad the way London, despite such modern developments as Canary Wharf, seems to be stuck in a large portion of the people here as a place very unloved.
Anyway, it's thoroughly enjoyable to actually read all these opinions. Some of the most surprising and insightful stories come from the most unusual people from a homeless ex-con from Leeds who has just arrived in the city to the man who coordinates the transportation system for the entire region. There's even a talk with an airline pilot on approaching Heathrow and Gatwick Airports from the air that's a brilliant twist on this theme.