This Lovely City

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Pub Date 12 Mar 2020 | Archive Date 17 Mar 2022

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*As seen on the new BBC TWO TV book club, Between the Covers*

Longlisted for the HWA Debut Crown Award

Indie Book of the Month for March, selected by the Booksellers Association

One of OBSERVER’S 10 best debut novelists of 2020 / WOMAN & HOME Best of 2020 / EVENING STANDARD Best books of 2020 / MAIL ON SUNDAY 2020 Highlights / I Best of 2020

* * * *

‘Full of life and love . . . it made my heart soar, and should be on every Londoner’s shelf’ Stacey Halls, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Familiars

‘The writing is wonderful; London’s energy runs right through it; the characters leap off the page. I was truly sad to leave them behind’ Adam Kay, Observer

‘Convincing and involving’ Sunday Times

‘Fans of Zadie Smith and Andrea Levy won’t want to miss Louise Hare’s enthralling debut novel’ Elle

* * *
The drinks are flowing.
The music is playing.
But the party can’t last.

With the Blitz over and London reeling from war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Fresh off the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door. Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home – and it’s alive with possibility. Until, one morning, 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, the newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart.

Atmospheric, poignant and compelling, Louise Hare’s debut shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects. But, also, that there is always hope.
* * *


‘I loved, loved, loved it’ Cathy Rentzenbrink, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Last Act of Love

‘Full to the brim with such complete joys and heart-aching tragedies . . . you can feel the warmth and colour emanating from the pages’ Magic Radio Book Club

*As seen on the new BBC TWO TV book club, Between the Covers*

Longlisted for the HWA Debut Crown Award

Indie Book of the Month for March, selected by the...

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ISBN 9780008332570
PRICE £12.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

After I finished This Lovely City, Louise Hare appeared in a Guardian newspaper feature on the top ten debut writers in 2020. It is a deserved accolade. The novel really moved me, in its' evocation of Afro-Caribbean lives in London. My maternal grandfather came over from Guyana before the Windrush, and had four daughters with a Welsh white woman, living in London. The experience of growing up black and mixed-race in Britain is a scarring one, but what really comes across is the resilience of Lawrie and Evie. Just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Lawrie is scapegoated in the worst possible way by both Rose and the deeply unpleasant policeman, Rathbone. Hare upends the cliche of Afro-Caribbean family breakdown, and creates a wonderful sense of family in Lawrie, his bandmates, Aston and Evie. A must read.

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This is a wonderful book set in London in 1948 – 50 and basically about some of the passengers from the “Empire Windrush”. Although WW2 has been over for a few years there is still widespread rationing and many bombsites, leading to a shortage of housing. The British government decided that more manpower was needed due to wartime casualties so they offered cheap passage to England for men from the Caribbean. However, the men who arrived found that little provision had been made for housing them and jobs were difficult to find, especially skilled ones.

Against this background, Lawrie, Aston, Sonny, Moses and others struggle to integrate and support themselves and their families. There are those who prey on these desperate men and, a very few, who help them. Many of these men find solace in music, drink and drugs, but most of them try to work hard and keep their heads down. Discrimination against people of other races/colours/religions is rife in certain circles and these people tend not to be given the benefit of the doubt. When a dead child is discovered in a pond on Clapham Common suspicion immediately falls on the local coloured people. The story includes flashbacks to show how people arrived at their current situations and to suggest a number of different culprits. The story builds to a climax with a satisfying twist at the end.

Highly recommended.

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I really loved this book. The main characters are appealing, and I was completely drawn into the story. I found it hard to put down, and I will definitely be recommending it.

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Louise Hare has written a wonderful, poignant novel about a Jamaican man living in postwar England and the girl next door in South London. The promised welcome for the men who arrived on the Windrush is non existent and young, sweet natured Lawrie, navigates daily racism as he works as a postman by day and a musician by night. Lawrie has fallen in love with Evie, his South London neighbour and there, at least, seems the potential for happiness. That is, until Lawrie makes a horrible discovery on Clapham Common. The vulnerability felt, both socially and in the eyes of the law, as a black person in England at that time comes across powerfully in Louise Hare’s novel. We hear both Lawrie and Evie’s voice as the story develops, the time structure flipping between 1948 and a couple of years later. All of the difficulties Lawrie and Evie experience are caused or compounded by racism. The story has a few good surprises up its sleeve and the author has succeeded in finding some hope and joy in what might have been a bleak story. She has empathy and insight into all her characters and I highly recommend This Lovely City.

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Wow what a breath of fresh air. I throughly enjoyed the story and it isn’t like anything I can remember reading. It struck a cord with me and left me wondering and thinking which is what the best books do.
The characters came alive from the pages and told their story.
I would happily purchase this book for friends. Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this book.

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