Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Imagined London by Anna Quindlen

One of THE best books to read on a plane to London. I have always loved Anna Quindlen's articles for Newsweek magazine and was disappointed when she gave up her Last Page column. Imagined London was written in 2004 and as Quindlen states in the second chapter, "this is the story of a woman and the city she loved before she had ever been there." It was only in 1995 that Quindlen visited London for the first time on a book tour. However, she had known her London from the literature that she devoured so voraciously.

Throughout the relatively short book we get insight into her favorite literature and the places she had previously visited only vicariously. We walk alongside Shakespeare, Austen, P.D. James, and Martin Amis. There is the statue of Sherlock Holmes outside the Baker Tube and of course Thackeray and Trollope. Many pages are given over to Dickens and his Little Dorritt and Galsworthy's
Forsyte Saga. In addition are woven historical references as she travels the city that has been so beloved by her.

Imagined London is a tribute to a city that has one of the richest literary and historical pasts. It is not as detailed as Peter Ackroyd's London: a Biography that Quindlen references in the book. But that is not the purpose. It is a love story and written with all the passion a person who is drawn to London feel for the city. It will be read again when one feels that tugging need to bond with the city on the Thames.

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