Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lovely Linda

Here's a delectable novel for lovers of London, particularly those mysterious mansion blocks just west of the Marylebone High Street. Linda Grant's The Clothes on Their Backs teems with the spirit of place - and time too, the glorious seventies and the rich variety of costumes which went with them. The story concerns the gradual self discovery, through the vicissitudes of life, of the only child of elderly Hungarian refugees. Through her eyes we enter the exotic private world of a notorious slum landlord - her long lost uncle. And learn that European affluence also often conceals a bleak and tortured history. Surprise surprise, things are seldom what they seem. Love and splendor are not the sole province of the beautiful people. In short, then, another strong contender for the Man Booker prize - what a marvellous long list we are enjoying this time round.

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