Cover Image: This Lovely City

This Lovely City

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Member Reviews

1940’s London after the Windrush generation. Postman by day and jazz musician by night, Lawrie is trying to keep his head down, work hard and spend time with his girlfriend Evie. 
One day, when delivering a package after his shift he hears a lady screaming by a pond. He goes over to help and soon discovers a dead baby. Unfortunately, because of his skin colour, DC Rathbone is determined to pin the crime on him. 
A poignant tale about race in the 1940s/50s and hope amidst all the accusations. Lovely tale that I wanted to keep reading.
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This gives a great feel of the late 40's and early 50's during the Windrush years.
The prejudice and racism come alive in this story and unfortunately are still alive all these years later.
Well worth a read.
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Post war, post blitz London, homes still lay in ruins, it’s inhabitants attempting to rebuild their lives. The Government, in its infinite wisdom decided to invite members of the Jamaican population to make their home in England, to rebuild their cities and enjoy its perceived richness.

But is that what really happened? Did they find a better life and more importantly how were they received.

Hare’s novel This Lovely City went a long way to answer those questions and what a way she did it.

She gave us the most wonderful characters in Lawrie and Evie, both young and in love, their whole future ahead of them.

Evie, intelligent, bubbly, forever felt she had to pay for being her mother’s mistake in an era where a child outside marriage was frowned upon.

Lawrie, the new arrival, a talented clarinet player, hardworking postman, had to work that extra bit harder to justify his place in society. His wrong time, wrong place kicked off actions and events that in today’s modern world would be frowned upon.

You will find yourself getting angry, frustrated as Lawrie had to fight against ignorance, racism and brutality all because he was black. What you had to bear in mind as you read was that this was the 1950’s, Jamaican immigrants were seen as a problem, people who took the jobs of the white, their culture alien, viewed with suspicion. Hare didn’t leave anything out, but it was always measured and balanced, tempered with those who accepted and embraced them.

It wasn’t just about race, it was also about perception, what was seen as acceptable, right or wrong. Women seen as outcasts if they dared to get pregnant out of wedlock, to be free in their associations with men and even women. There was the accepted abuse of women by men, the husband who ruled the household, who had the last say.

Hare did all this so cleverly and wonderfully, that you could feel the tension, the anger, the frustration the characters experienced. Their struggle with wider society but also their beliefs, their own struggles came across so clearly that you couldn’t help but feel huge empathy, to become involved in their lives.

The story itself propelled the characters on a collision course, the outcome unknown until the last shocking revelation.

Did Lawrie and Evie find their happy after, survive the taboos of 1950’s society, or did they find themselves torn apart, cast adrift in a sea of change?

I almost want Hare to write a sequel, to meet them once again, to follow their onward journey!

There will be no spoilers from me, only encouragement to read This Lovely City for yourself and immerse yourself in 1950’s London, both the good and the bad. You will not be disappointed.
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This is a book set in the 1950s which is based in London and is set around a group of immegrants that have recently arrived from Jamaica. When a baby's body is found the police immediately, unfairly point their finger at them. An enjoyable book that explores racism in the 50's.
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I truly loved this book, I have given reviews on it before and do so again on second reading.
Fabulous characters and brilliant storyline. Set in 1950s Brixton against backdrop of jazz clubs and bed sits.
Keeps you fascinated with the terrible predicament of Laurie’s discovery. 
I believe I am obsessed.
Read it and you will be too.
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This was a really enjoyable read. Based in 1950’s London. When we still needed help to rebuild the city after the blitz. This scheme is now known as Windrush, as the men and women came over on the Empire Windrush.

Lawrie Matthews and his friends, Aston, Sonny and Moses came over to the UK hoping to get jobs and make better lives for themselves. Except they didn’t get the welcome and jobs that they had been promised.

Lawrie eventually found himself a job as a postman. He found that he had to work twice as hard as his fellow colleagues just to keep his job. His days were long and he walked for miles delivering peoples mail.

He eventually found a room to rent closer to work and he ends up falling in love with the girl next door called Evie. Evie lives with her strict mother, in the house her mother grew up in until her father threw her out. For getting pregnant and to top things off the babies father was coloured.

All though Evie’s life she’s had to fight prejudices’ against her because of her colour. When these man and women arrived on the Empire Windrush, for once she started to feel less alone. She started to date Lawrie from next door and he introduced her to his friends.

Lawrie played in a band with some of his friends in clubs down in Soho. Some nights Evie would go to the night club with one of her friends, just so she could see Lawrie and have a little dance with him during his break.

Eventually Lawrie and Evie become engaged. But things become very difficult for them, when Lawrie finds and pulls out a black baby from a pond on Clapham Common. The police arrest Lawrie as they are sure he is the babies father.

One of the police men that interviewed Lawrie starts harassing him. Turning up at his home, work place and anywhere else Lawrie goes. Then they turn to Evie and try to get her to confess to the baby being hers and that she killed it. The same police man that harassed Lawrie starts to harass them both any chance he gets.

Eventually secrets come out that could jeopardise Lawrie and Evie’s future wedding and happiness. When certain secrets come out Lawrie understands Evie’s dislike of his best friend. Can Lawrie and Evie overcome all of the secrets that had been kept? Who will be charged with the murder of the baby girl and what has Evie’s mother got to do with what’s been happening?

Such an interesting book to read. Telling us about the hardships and prejudices’ that the Empire Windrush people had to overcome along with the realisation that life in London wasn’t what they expected. A lack of housing, the lack of people either wanting to give them jobs or even willing to let them rent a room or house. Also the country was still rationing food along with the cold bleak weather.

I look forward to seeing what else this author writes next.
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Couldn't put it down. Different & Enjoyable*****************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

This book is a timely exploration of the experience of the Windrush generation once they arrived in Britain - the relationships they made, the lives they lived and the racism and abuse they received. It's also the story of the women who loved the men who arrived on British shores and the children who emerged from those relationships. It's all too easy to see the reasons behind the actions of characters such as Evie's mother, but Hare doesn't shy away from the complexity of her characters and that's what makes the book special.
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1950 and wartorn britain - what a time to be writing about. This felt very topical as it focused on a group of Windrush immigrants recently arrived in the UK from Jamaica. A really good strong read with a fascinating undertone.
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I’m at a point with reading where I’m feeling lazy, if I’m completely honest. I’m also driven by the numbers and as I’m currently maintaining a book a week at least, and am five books ahead in my Goodreads challenge (after increasing the total TWICE) I don’t want to lose that momentum. I know, it’s a bit daft. It does mean that it drives my reading choices and steers me into bad habits, though. I’m halfway through three excellent non-fiction books but keep putting them to one side in favour of ‘easier’ fiction reads. Reading should not be a punishment, ever, and I know that I’m much better at fiction than non – every Philosophy textbook I ever read made me fall asleep every 15 pages – so I’m not going to beat myself up too badly for it. I will keep up with the non-fiction though – reviews to come soon!

Anyway, back to this ‘lighter’ choice: “This Lovely City”, a debut novel by Louise Hare. Evie and Lawrie are the main characters in this post war Britain, bound by love but carrying secrets of their own, or within their families’. Evie’s Dad was black, and her Mum white, but she’s never met him as he left before she was born. The relationship and the product of that, Evie herself, brought shame on the family and Evie’s Mum never let her forget it.

Lawrie’s just arrived, answering the call from the motherland to help rebuild Britain. Except, when he gets to London he realises that it’s not as easy as he thought it would be. No jobs available for people ‘like him’, nowhere to stay. He doesn’t have enough money to get home so he finds himself stuck in a city that doesn’t want him.

Louise Hare does a great job of explaining Windrush through the story and the characters points of view. The real impact on them, their families and the disappointment to make that long journey away from the life you knew and loved to somewhere cold and, for the most part, unwelcoming. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Lawrie and Evie have a bright future ahead of them, together.

I liked the characters and the story, which ends up being a kind of murder mystery, was pretty decent. I thought there were some major plot points that just didn’t get addressed again – Evie’s white best friend declares that she could never actually marry someone ‘like her’ in a devastating reveal which should have pitched Evie’s life sideways – her oldest friend, revealing that she thinks the same as the racists who whisper and nudge each other? It was a drop in the swimming pool.

I felt that it would have benefitted from a more even pace – it was quite sedate and cosy for the first two thirds, and then sped up so that in the last five minutes there was a lot to pack in. It would have been more satisfying to have spread that out a bit so more action happened in the middle.

I enjoyed the story, it was what I was after – I’d say that it promised more than it delivered, although I’ll still keep an eye out for Louise Hare as I know she’s currently writing the next book.

Thanks to Netgalley and HQ for the ARC, as always!
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Not something I would usually buy to read but I'm so glad the publisher accepted my request! A poignant and emotional depiction of post-war London, showing a side of London that I was not familiar with before I read this book. Informative, emotive, beautifully written and a masterful debut. I can't wait to read more from Louise Hare.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy to read.
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A slightly lacklustre tale of 1950s London and the newly arrived Windrush generation. There just wasn't enough of anything in here. Not enough London, not enough Jazz, not enough focus. I could have done with more character development as I didn't find a couple of the characters actions very believable. I'm also not a fan of baddies having 'ugly' physical traits.
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A very different book, set in post war England. I really enjoyed this story. The characters are all well rounded and come alive to the reader , all in all a lovely story !
Thank you to Netgalley, Hq and Louise Hare for letting me read this book in exchange for an honest review
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Absolutely gorgeous!! Stunningly written, I would definitely recommend this book. It made me weep, and I couldn't stop thinking about it after I put it down.
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This is the story of Lawrie and Evie.  Lawrie comes over on HMS Windrush and meets Evie who is of mixed race, it tells of the prejudice they faced and the racial tensions.
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This atmospheric and insightful story set in London in the 1950s captures the ethos of post-war Britain still in the grasp of rationing. Lawrie is a young man drawn to England with promises of a better life. The welcome banner in the skies above the Windrush proves to be a cynical publicity stunt.  The reality? Prejudice, poor housing and no jobs. 

Lawrie's secures work as a postman and works as a musician in a Soho club when he can. He has a girlfriend and a future until he offers a helping hand, and his life changes forever. 

This is a well-written story with events and characters that resonate.

I received a copy of this book from HQ via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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London 1948 -1950, some of the first immigrants arrive by invitation, expecting  to be able to get jobs and house. They are disappointed and met with prejudice and intolerance. This was not the promised land they had been led to believe it would be. When they arrive in London Laurie has to find accommodation and a job, neither of which are easy, he meets Evie and they form a relationship, but they are torn apart by untold secrets.
Book has good description of London at that time. The prejudice and inequality is as abhorrent then as it is today.
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I was completely transported to 1950’s London whilst reading this book. I felt it really highlighting the extremely harsh treatment of the Windrush generation who were just trying to make were lives for themselves, and I learnt a lot about their plight. I was completely involved with the main characters and thought they were well developed

I'll look out for more books by this author for sure
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I really loved this book to begin with and thought the London setting was really well portrayed. I loved the idea of Lawrie stalking the jazz clubs, and the whole setting felt very real and atmospheric.

However I felt the novel dragged somewhat and the baby plotline - although obviously vital to the novel - detracted from the more interesting backstories of the characters. I found myself losing interest towards the end.

Gorgeous, gorgeous cover though!
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Set in 1950s London, 'This Lovely City' tells the timely story of the harsh treatment of the Windrush generation.

Having travelled to England's needy shores on the Empire Windrush, Lawrie finds himself living in a small South London room. The racism experienced by him and his girl-next-door, Evie, portrays many of the hardships and abuse that must have been experienced by a generation of people who had come to help rebuild the country after war. Evie has further struggles at home as she suffers the disappointment of her own mother who, as a white woman with a mixed race child, is unable to separate her love for her daughter from society's negative opinion.

However, Lawrie's life particularly,  soon becomes more punishing and unjust, when he discovers the abandoned corpse of a baby at a local pond and finds himself at the centre of a police investigation for murder.

Whilst I see there are many 4/5 star reviews for this book, personally I did not find it such an engaging read. I found the characters slow to develop and the murder plot predictable. 

Nevertheless, I am thankful to netgalley, the publisher and author for sharing an advance copy with me in return for my honest opinion.
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