Cover Image: This Lovely City

This Lovely City

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Plot 

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.

Review 

It’s been a long time since I’ve been totally blown away by a book. 

Louise Hare captures the attitudes and trails of 1950’s London perfectly highlighting the extremely harsh treatment of the Windrush generation who were just trying to male were lives for themselves. Told through the eyes of a native Jamaican and a mixed-race London girl, this story sheds light on the realities of not fitting in and having to hide secrets when the world’s attitudes were somewhat different than they are today. 

Lawrie and Evie’s story and relationship are both equally beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time; both have dreams, both are held back by different factors. Evie’s relationship with her somewhat cold-hearted mother is compelling and draws you in. I will say no more for fear of spoilers. 

The language is sometimes hard to read but none the less important as this is how those looking for a new life were treated. This is not only an amazing read but an important one especially in light of recent events in this world. 

I would never have thought that this was the author’s debut novel. I look forward to her next works and if I don’t see this book on awards lists (if it isn’t already by the time
of posting), I may riot! 

Rating 

Five stars (and another five, and....you get the picture!)

Recommend 

Hell yes!! 

This book was very kindly gifted by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. All opinion therein however are my own
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“Friday night in London Town; survivors of war. Who knew better how to live than those who had not so long ago wondered how short that life might be.”

After the Second World War, labour shortage led the UK government to invite people from Jamaica and elsewhere to relocate to Britain. Despite having been invited they were often viewed with suspicion and struggled to find jobs and accommodation.
This book follows a group of Jamaican immigrants, attempting to make a living in London as Jazz musicians. When the body of a young child is discovered in a local pond, suspicion falls on the new arrivals.

I wasn’t sure about this book in the beginning but the mystery of the dead child really hooks you in. The plot is compelling, and the characters are all memorable. Even after I had finished the book I found myself thinking back on the characters and wondering how they were doing.

It’s probably unfair to compare this book to Small Island, but as I read this recently I can’t help it. Small Island absolutely blew me away. Therefore, if you were only planning to read one book on the subject, I would pick that. If you can find the time for two, then this is well worth a read!
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I loved it - all the bluesy heat of cities in the summer. The only problem I had reading it during lockdown was how much it made me miss being in the thrum of a crowd.
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Wow, I loved this historical fiction, romance, thriller book. It's full of complex characters and is wonderfully written. Based on a tragic story, it's a compelling story that I was desperate to read more of, I couldn't put it down. 

Set in post-second world war London and focused on the arrival of boats like Empire Windrush. Highlighting what it was like to arrive under the guise of helping to rebuild the nation but not being welcomed quite as openly by some of the locals.
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Wow, what a poignant, moving and compelling read This Lovely City by Louise Hare is. It captured my heart almost from the very first page, completely blowing me away with the power of the story held within its pages. London of the 1950’s is brought vividly to life, with the harsh treatment of the Windrush generation at the heart of  this beautifully written and heartfelt story.

It begins with Lawrie, a young man who has answered England’s call for help, travelling over on the Empire Windrush and moving into a small room in South London. There he falls in love with girl next door Evie, who is of mixed race heritage. Narrated by both Lawrie and Evie, this is a story that isn’t always an easy read. Racism against them is an almost every day occurrences so life is tough, but as long as they can stay together Lawrie feels that they will be able to overcome anything.

But then something happens that changes everything, with Lawrie becoming the focus of a police investigation that sees him become the prime suspect in a murder case. People begin to turn against him and the other new arrivals, with fights beginning to break out as the local residents use the murder investigation as an excuse to drive Lawrie and his friends from their homes.

This Lovely City is a beautifully written story that opens your eyes to the racism and hardship those of the Windrush generation faced when they came to a country that at first welcomed them with open arms. It’s a tale of a beautiful young love that’s filled with fear and heartache through no fault of the young lovers themselves, but is also a love story that leaves you with an overwhelming feeling of hope.

Louise Hare has captured the essence of the Windrush generation with a powerful story that’s as relevant today as it was all those years ago. It highlights incredibly well why what has been happening in recent years to the Windrush generation and their descendants is so appalling, causing untold harm and heartache to those who were here for our country at a time when we needed them most.

I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved this book! With a cast of memorable characters and a story that will blow you away, this is a time in our history that needed to be told and I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough.

To put it quite simply, this is a stunning read that will stay with me for a long time to come. Just wow!
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This book is so beautiful. I love historical fiction but it’s a relatively new genre for me as I hadn’t tried it much before last year. Louise writes wonderfully and with knowledge, empathy and heart. I think this is a brilliant story with a brilliant perspective. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming in the same breath.
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Lawrie, fresh off the boat from Jamaica finds that London does not have streets paved with gold. This is a beautiful story with lively characters that you can imagine and Lawries future starts to look bright.......... However this story twists and turns, it's a tale of love, a thriller and a really enjoyable read. I cannot give more detail without spoiling the readers experience. I recommend this to readers who don't mind a love story that incorporates so much more. I loved it.
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This story takes you back in time, to London after the blitz.  Lawrie Matthews is brought over from Jamaica on the belief of starting a new life where he was needed.

He was sold a lie, not everyone is willing to accept blacks walking the streets and taking up jobs.

Lawrie is a postman but Jazz musician at night who literally falls in love with the girl next door, Evie.

Things are going well for Lawrie until he finds the body of a baby in a local pond.  Lawrie has no connection to this baby but the police are after him because of the colour of his skin.

This was a mix of historical fiction, murder mystery and a story of love.  I just wanted to keep reading, totally absorbed in the characters lives.

This was a brilliant read, i highly recommend it!

Thank you to Netgalley, Louise Hare and the publishers!
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What a great read.  Set in the late 1940's to early 1950 in London.  Based on the Caribbean immigrants off the Windrush ship (and others) and their subsequent assimilation into UK life.  After WWII there was clearly a need for labour and the call was sent out to Jamaica and other UK territories to come to the UK an help rebuild the nation.  Only problem was that an organised welcome was lacking and there was resentment from the locals.  This book describes how poorly the immigrants were treated, the racial tensions, and the misconceptions and poverty that had to be overcome, whilst telling the story of a family's problems brought about by the conceiving of a child by a white girl who'd had a relationship with a black American GI.  The book ends with hope, but we know that racial misconceptions and inequality still exists today.
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I sped through this book in a. couple of days as I really wanted to know how things would turn out for the main characters.It tells the story of Lawrie,a jazz musician who came to London in 1948 on HMS Windrush, and Evie, a mixed race girl from London.Lawrie is caught up in a murder investigation when he finds the body of a baby in a pond, and although he has nothing to do with the murder,he is immediately a suspect because of his race.The story jumps between 1948 and 1950, and gives a very clear picture of the prejudice and racism the new arrivals faced,which completely went against everything they were led to expect when they came from Jamaica..
There is all sorts of period detail about life in post-war London and the characters are well drawn and believable.Definitely recommended.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in return for an honest review which reflects my own opinions.
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The only thing I didn’t like about This Lovely City by Louise Hare, were the attitudes of a lot of the (predominantly) white, male Londoners. And there’s not a thing that the author could do about that. 

In 1948 answering a call from the Homeland, Lawrie and hundreds of mainly young men like him, arrived in London, fresh off the Empire Windrush from Jamaica. They were there to help rebuild England after the Blitz and the end of the Second World War. We see this story mainly from Lawrie’s point of view, so we see the racism, the way he was turned away from jobs because the other men wouldn’t want to work with ‘his type’. It was a shock to see the use of the ‘n’ word so often, and the blatant hostility towards Lawrie and his friends. 

This story isn’t just about that though. There’s a bit of a love story and a mystery to solve as well. Lawrie makes an upsetting discovery, and rather than being thanked for it, he is immediately under suspicion. Again, solely down to the colour of his skin. 

I loved this book. It gave me an insight into the lives of the Windrush generation as they began their lives here. Lawrie and his girlfriend Evie were great characters to read about - I WANTED all to be well for them, as I did for the other Jamaican characters, if I’m honest. 

If this is Louise Hare’s first book, I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for my copy of this wonderful book.
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An easy and evocative read that perfectly captures 1950's London and offers a 'murder mystery' and love story all rolled into one.  I wasn't expecting to gain so much insight into the 'windrush generation' and the trials and challenges of the West Indians who emigrated to the UK after WW2, but this was a welcome education and an uncomfortable but necessary reminder of the institutional racism that beset that era.  A captivating and moving story.
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A brilliant debut by Louise Hare. It follows Lawrie as he settles in London (the somewhat ironic Lovely City), off the Empire Windrush. We all know the basic story of the Windrush generation but I have to admit that I've never thought about their experience in much detail before – this book changed that. They certainly weren't welcomed with open arms into the promised land that's for sure. 
It is also a great story, full of mystery, romance and hope.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This was such a good read I’ll probably go back to it again. As well as having a great story told with a love of the subject, it is clearly well researched and I learned a lot about this period of history. The characters are well drawn and the author deftly avoids cliche and stereotype. I loved the writers style and will look out for further titles she has written.
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Lawrie Matthews arrives at Tilbury Docks, as one of the many hopeful men and women who believe they have come to England as British citizens, who would be welcomed as they help to rebuild the ravaged streets following the bombings of WWII. The reality is hard to stomach. Looked at with suspicion, fearful of violence and racist taunts, he feels he doesn't belong. He does however begin to build a new life, finding work as a postman, playing clarinet in a jazz band, and finding love with Evie. But his precarious world is about to be shook, on the fateful day he responds to a  cry for help, and rescues an abandoned baby, sadly already dead. DS Rathbone arrests him, and despite no evidence, continues to harass him. Lawrie feels the weight of suspicion hanging over him. But Rathbone then turns his focus on Evie. Why did she leave London for months? As Rathbone continues digging, he discovers a birth certificate that changes everything for Evie. She is forced to confront the truth of a betrayal so deep that the wound will never fully heal. This Lovely City is a compelling read and confronts the reality of life for the Windrush generation, but with a powerful sense of hope amongst the tragedy, it will ultimately leave the reader uplifted.
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The author has created a very strong sense of pace in this novel and I devoured it within 24 hours. The Windrush generation are firmly in the spotlight and I feel like the author demonstrates just how much prejudice they faced on their arrival in the UK. Whilst there is an element of the whodunnit about this novel, what made me so keen to read on were the characters. Louise Hare’s characters are all written with great skill and she really has a talent for evoking sympathy from her audience for these characters, all of whom are flawed in their own personal way.
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In my opinion...


An atmospheric debut novel which will challenge and stay with you long after you’ve finished it.

Lawrie and Evie are such likeable, well drawn and believable characters, that you feel as though you are living the story with them. The book goes between two timelines and also via letters from Evie’s mother to her sister, but it is easy to follow, and this is a good way of explaining the back story.

Much of the subject matter covered is uncomfortable & distressing as Louise Hare does not shy away from horrific racist comments, which, sadly, are all too realistic. That is countered however by a tender love story, and an intriguing mystery. 

In the light of the Windrush scandal, this is very much a novel of our time, raising numerous questions which are relevant today. Equally it feels as though it does accurately portray the post war 40s and early 50s in London.

I look forward to whatever subject Louise Hare tackles next, as this is such a very strong start to her published career
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This Lovely City by Louise  Hare

A book set in Brixton London after the war an everyone where people not local or different were very downtrodden and treated badly by some out of ignorance and fear.

 A well written book very much of the current climate.  I found it upsetting, as I do about any bigotry, the book does forget there are some very honest and kind people that are not bigoted. Although they were minority of that time. I can’t abide bigotry & racism but they treat us all as guilty because of a few 
.
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I found this book really interesting, I didn’t really know a lot about the windrush before this book, so it was very insightful for me. Well written and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Thank you NetGalley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.
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This one reminded me of some of the books forced upon me at university in a module I didn't enjoy. I think that made me biased and made this particular story hard to get through. I've seen innumerable 5-star reviews for This Lovely City so am aware that I am in the minority but I just didn't gel with the narrative at all. The mystery was predictable and I am just not a lover of historical fiction of any sort it seems... I really need to stop requesting everything that pops up in my email inbox as the next best seller!
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