London Belongs to Me (Penguin Modern Classics)

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London Belongs to Me (Penguin Modern Classics)

London Belongs to Me (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Well, how about Norman Collins – as well as author of 16 novels, he was controller of television at the BBC, and co-founder of independent television in the UK. Though they are all separate family units with entirely separate lives, their changing circumstances begin to demonstrate that the bonds between the residents are stronger than they may have realised. The Wall Jumper was the one I had in mind, but as Stewart has pointed out, all the Salters have them too (though they’re not standard Penguin Modern Classic cover design).

And a prize of nothing but kudos to the first person to name another Penguin Modern Classic that has stooped to having a quote on the cover. There’s a lot about him on the net, although I couldn’t find any mention of the photo on the cover of this book. One of literature’s memorable charlatans, his poverty acute, his powers questionable, Henry Squales, aka Enrico Qualito the medium, is an actor’s gift.Percy is quite the young man on the up, making a name for himself as a successful mechanic, with dreams of owning his own garage one day. And she was all wrong and I had to throw her out, so it cost a lot of money and a lot of pain," said Gilliat. For younger bookworms – and nostalgic older ones too – there’s the Slightly Foxed Cubs series, in which we’ve reissued a number of classic nature and historical novels. He’s not wrong, though the idea that a name-check from St Etienne can spring a novel from out of print hell back into the hands of new eager readers is not especially credible. Life goes on: Mr Josser retires from his city office and wants to remove to the country; Doris Josser, the daughter of the house, leaves home to live with her posh (well, posher) friend Doreen; Connie’s Mayfair night club is raided (fourteen days without option); pursued by the threadbare Squales, the landlady Mrs Vizzard consoles herself with the thought that ‘it wasn’t as though he were a failure .

Getting up to no good comes naturally to washed up, elderly actress Connie, who lives above the Boons with only her canary for company. To Doris, Camden Town is a disappointment and ‘appears exactly the same as the Elephant and Castle on her side of the river’.I’ve always enjoyed completely inappropriate, florid covers (although obviously I feel for the authors who must have recoiled in horror when they first set eyes on them.

Through the charlatan Squales, we are introduced to a minor constellation of astralists: the South London Spiritualist Movement and the South London Psychical Society as well their transpontine rivals, the Finsbury Park based North London Spiritualist Club and North Kensington Spiritualist Union. Collins uses to good effect the old trick of exploring the lives of the people brought together in one residence: for a superlative example, see Patrick Hamilton’s The Slaves of Solitude. The Hogarth Press where I’m working, is in the heart of the literary world, with authors coming in all the time.I love boarding house novels because such a cross-section of people and situations are presented and it's fun to see how it all turns out.

The independent-minded quarterly magazine that combines good looks, good writing and a personal approach. Mr Squales testifies against Percy, but in the process exposes to his fiancée Mrs Vizzard the falsity of his claims to be able to contact the dead and to predict the future. In adjusting for this with Norman Collins’ 736-page epic London Belongs to Me, now reissued in Penguin Modern Classics, I may overcompensate and end up underpraising it instead. Everyone's foibles and weaknesses and stupidities are clear, but not condemned: they're all human and there's compassion for everyone. It’s the people who make it the exciting place it is, who challenge each others’ preconceptions and if that isn’t always comfortable, it never stops being interesting.The reason it caught my interest then, as I remember it, it was all about a big house in London and the stories of the various tenants who lived in it. Also known as Dulcimer Street, Norman Collins’s London Belongs to Me is a Dickensian romp through working-class London on the eve of the Second World War.

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