City Secrets London Turtleback – Jan 1 2001
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City Secrets: London is the third book in the intriguing City Secrets series, published by the Little Bookroom, an American sister company of Granta. The idea behind the books was to develop an anecdotal guide by London's writers, artists, historians and designers and to reveal favourite hidden corners as well as giving new insights on well-known places.
As in the much-acclaimed City Secrets: Rome and City Secrets: Florence, Venice and the Towns of Italy, the quirkiness and individuality of the approach pays dividends here. The biographer and critic Fiona McCarthy gives a cogent and evocative essay about the Freud Museum in Finchley where Freud lived after his last-ditch flight from the Nazis, while interior decorator David Mlinaric is equally intriguing discussing London Underground design, which he conjures in an essay that will send readers out to discover the work of Eric Gill and Eduardo Paolozzi (whose mosaic murals may be found at Tottenham Court Road station). And journalist Ruth Pavey will have many of us up at 4am visiting Hampstead Heath to enjoy the dawn chorus and the bat walks: hers is one of the most fascinating essays in this invaluable little book. Part of the appeal of this series is its steadfast refusal to visit well-trodden paths; where it intersects with the more familiar guidebooks, there is always an idiosyncratic approach that marks it out as something much more interesting. --Barry Forshaw
From the Back Cover
Tour London in the company of its most thoughtful observers.
Beyond the public London of pomp and circumstance exists a private London that endlessly inspires its artists and writers. Infused with the spirit of history and literature--yet undeniably of-the-moment--the city's loveliest old corners and hippest new addresses are now revealed: the lopsided 17th-century premises of the wine merchant who supplies claret to the Queen; Oscar Wilde's favourite restaurant; a barge trip by canal to Camden Market; a connoisseur's afternoon.
Church Row, Hampstead NW3 tube: Hampstead
The best walk in London is down Church Row in NW3. After his exile and disgrace as the boyfriend of Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas lived here, though I don't know at which number. You could ring all the bells and ask. At the end of the road there is a ravishing little graveyard to the right which contains the remains of Hugh Gaitskell, Kay Kendall, Anton Walbrook (the ringmaster from La Ronde) and Joan Collins's mother. Our Lady guards Beerbohm Tree. To the left, in the grounds of the church itself, you will find the grave of John Harrison--immortalised by Michael Gambon in the TV film of Longtitude. You will also get an extraordinary view south towards the river. Then you should head on to Frognal, turn right, and at 99 you will find the house where General de Gaulle lived as leader of the Free French throughout the Second World War. I find it heartstopping to think of him here, directing the French war effort from a house in Hampstead. Of course if you want to follow the theme of the Resistance, you then have to go to the French House in Soho (49 Dean Street W1) to see where de Gaulle's juniors all ate and drank. But, for me, the pub will never be as evocative as the big, leafy house in North London. David Hare, Playwright
Top Customer Reviews
LONDON CITY SECRETS is divided into 13 areas: 1/ Trafalgar Square, Soho and Covent Garden; 2/ St James, Westminster, & the Embankment; 3/ Hyde Park & Chelsea; 4/ Oxford Street and Mayfair; 5/ Regent's Park & Camden Town; 6/ Bloomsbury & King's Cross; 7/ Islington & Clerkenwell; 8/ The City (of London); 9/ The South Bank; 10/ Notting Hill & The West; 11/ Hampstead & The North; 12/ The East End & Beyond; and 13/ South of the River.
Because the selections are subjective, the National Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum are mentioned, whereas the National Maritime Museum is not. Fortnum and Mason is included, Mark's & Spencer is not. Scrubb's prison is listed, the Tower of London is not. Plenty of good places to eat are listed, no good places to sleep are included. Never thought you'd visit Islington? You might find yourself eating at the Smithfield Market, Moro's, or the Quality Chop House. Think the East End is a dump? You might discover a science fiction ride on the nighttime tube.
Symbols are placed next to sites with London Underground stops and places to eat. Plenty of bars, pubs, and other assorted oddball watering holes are included. The various authors, artists, etc. also recommend plenty of additional reading material about favorite spots. LONDON CITY SECRETS is eccentric, esoteric, and entertaining.
This volume, small in size but rich in information, divides Britain's capital into thirteen areas according to a scheme that escapes me. However, no matter. Each area, e.g. Hyde Park & Chelsea, The City, Oxford Street & Mayfair, or The East End & Beyond, is preceded by a map on which is marked each point of interest included in that section. And what you will find are both famous and little-known museums, historic buildings, art galleries, libraries, shops, pubs, churches, eateries, parks, squares, streets, memorials, and gardens. Each includes, at least, an address or location and the name of the nearest Underground or rail station. If relevant, there's also a phone number and/or the date the place was founded or constructed. The core of each listing is a short descriptive commentary by a contributing journalist, architect, philosopher, playwright, professor, author, historian, poet, curator, or some other professional of similar dignity. At the end of the book are an Index of Recommended Reading and an Index of Contributors. What you won't find are budget hotels, American fast-food franchises, newsagents, or 24-hour chemists (pharmacies) reviewed by backpacking college students, traveling salesmen, lorry drivers, or tourists from the Midwest. This is a genteel publication.
LONDON is a delightful and uncommonly intelligent sightseeing resource for those of us who've been to the city often enough to have exhausted the usual tourist activities and are left with making silly faces at the Buckingham Palace guard to try and crack his reserve.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
You will need time to make the purchase of this book worthwhile. London is gigantic. It's difficult enough to hit the very well documented high points. Read morePublished on April 13 2004
This new series is indeed a revelation: I bought "City Secrets London" after being most impressed with "Rome" and "Venice, Florence and Italian Cities", and London edition did not... Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2002 by Andrius Uzkalnis
This book steered me safely and happily through London. Its recommendations are spot on, and made me wish I could spend months in London to track them all down. Read morePublished on Aug. 21 2002 by Jennifer Weeks