The drinks are flowing. The music’s playing. But the party can’t last.
London, 1950. With the Blitz over and London still rebuilding after the war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Arriving from Jamaica aboard the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door.
Touring Soho’s music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home — and it’s alive with possibility. Until one morning, while crossing a misty common, he makes a terrible discovery.
As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And before long, London’s newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart. Immersive, poignant, and utterly compelling, Louise Hare’s debut examines the complexities of love and belonging, and teaches us that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope.
Title: This Lovely City
By: Louise Hare
Published By: HQ [Harper Collins UK]
Publication Date: March 12, 2020
Page Count: 400
Genre: Historical Fiction
I went into this thinking it looked like a fun lighthearted read, instead it was full of love, heartache and completely captured my heart.
This is not just a historical fiction novel, it’s one that shines a light on important issues we often forget about in this time period [1948-1950].
After the population was depleted from the tragic losses of WWII, Britain opened its arms to those who claimed it to be ‘the motherland’ at the time, many men leaving their homes in the Caribbean leaving to try their fortune in England. England, after all, needed the manpower to fill the jobs that were left open.
Thinking they were being offered a new home, the men were cautiously hopeful, they were needed.
Unfortunately, England wasn’t as welcoming as it should have been.
[This was such a great read, and not to mention this was in line with my graduate studies, so, this made the read extra special. Which was the diaspora of Jazz in the UK before, during, and after WWII]
This is the story of not just one man, but the community around him and the country he and others are trying to make their home, and what happens when tragedy strikes.
There’s a death, and of course, fingers are starting to be pointed, and as true as it is today, it was back in 1950 and fingers were pointed at those considered ‘different’ or the ‘outsiders’ based simply on appearances and skin colour. But, the truth goes deeper than that and people are caught up in this tragedy, targeted by the wider community and the police.
The writing style is full of life and the pacing makes it to where you never want to put it down.
There are so many threads of smaller stories going on in the wider picture and yet Hare flawlessly ties them all by the end. The ending was not only satisfying but beautiful, and I loved all of the characters, side and main, Hare fleshed them out so well it’s hard to imagine they weren’t real.
It was a vividly written world built on history and harsh truths we sometimes like to cover up but at the end of the day, there was love and hope.
Fantastic read, four and a half cups of coffee and I now want to keep my eye on Louise Hare. Thank you to HQ for a copy of this in exchange for my honest review as part of the blog tour.
About the Author
Louise Hare is a London-based writer and has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London. Originally from Warrington, the capital is the inspiration for much of her work, including This Lovely City, which began life after a trip into the deep level shelter below Clapham Common.
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