Our London Lives

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Pub Date 5 Sep 2024 | Archive Date 10 Sep 2024

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Discover a timeless story of the heart: fierce, tender and yearning.

That first time, she barely saw him at all...

1979. In the vast and often unforgiving city of London, two Irish outsiders seeking refuge find one another: Milly, a teenage runaway, and Pip, a young boxer full of anger and potential who is beginning to drink it all away.

Over the decades their lives follow different paths, interweaving from time to time, often in one another's sight, always on one another's mind, yet rarely together.

Forty years on, Milly is clinging onto the only home she's ever really known while Pip, haunted by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, traipses the streets of London and wrestles with the life of the recovering alcoholic. And between them, perhaps uncrossable, lies the unspoken span of their lives.

Dark and brave, this epic novel offers a rich and moving portrait of an ever-changing city, and a profound inquiry into character, loneliness and the nature of love.

Discover a timeless story of the heart: fierce, tender and yearning.

That first time, she barely saw him at all...

1979. In the vast and often unforgiving city of London, two Irish outsiders seeking...

Advance Praise

'A profound love story...Like Barbara Kingsolver, Hickey captures the pulse of the living moment' COLUM McCANN

'Huge of heart and soaring of soul' CLAIRE KILROY

Told with a wise and benevolent heart, this is a London novel that captures the living moment of the city across decades. Christine Dwyer Hickey is a national treasure' PAUL LYNCH

'A profound love story...Like Barbara Kingsolver, Hickey captures the pulse of the living moment' COLUM McCANN

'Huge of heart and soaring of soul' CLAIRE KILROY

Told with a wise and benevolent heart...

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ISBN 9781805461326
PRICE £20.00 (GBP)

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Average rating from 18 members

Featured Reviews

Christine Dwyer Hickey's latest novel is a sweeping epic of a novel, which takes us from the 1970s through the present day. Unlike most epic novels though, Dwyer Hickey's novel is intimate in detail, telling of the loves and lives of two people, Pip and Milly, who stories intertwine and separate through the decades. Her prose is simple, yet beautifully crafted, and one is easily swept up by the narrative, and one comes to care about these characters very quickly. She recreates the periods the novel is set in very well - I could smell the 1970s pub the novel spends much time in - I could see these people and their lives. This is a very fine novel with much to recommend it, especially to readers who enjoy their romantic tales of everyday folk.

I have not read anything by her before, but on the basis of this will be checking out her back catalogue.

Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for the ARC.

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Our London Lives - Christine Dwyer Hickey

Get to know the intricate details of Milly and Pip's love story. Will they won't they, what stops them getting together over the years, what in the background of their lives has made them what they are and how they are with each other. Both characters have their own painful traumas they are dealing with that in itself stall their relationship for the future. Get to know the London that they see over 40 years with London itself becoming one of the characters in the novel.

This was a beautifully written novel authentic to the times and the minor characters themselves Max, Dom, Trish and Mrs Oaks were wonderfully portrayed. Myself growing up during the same period of time made the novel even more plausible and believable.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was rooting for Milly and Pip the whole time. Without giving up the ending though oh my goodness did the author have to leave it like that.

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I really enjoyed this book. I was gripped by the story and the characters right from the very beginning and didn’t want to put it down. London itself becomes a character in the book and as a Londoner I really appreciated the way the author evoked the atmosphere, especially the changes over the time that story unfolds. It reminded me a little of the books of Patrick Hamilton but it is less dark, although there are certainly dark moments. The lives of the two main characters, Milly and Philip, are entirely believable and the environment in which they live - pubs, boxing clubs, run down streets - is very authentically brought to life. You can practically smell it. The minor characters are also very well drawn. At the heart of the book is a romantic love story but it’s also about the kindness of strangers which can draw unlikely people into a family of a different sort. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.

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This is not your usual love story. If it were, I would not have liked it,
This is more of a character study of two misfits, and the city of London starting from 1979, and beyond.
The characterisation is wonderful, and plot is 3./5. The writing style is not groundbreaking, but does the job.
Everything that comes with the spirit of the city (setting, mood) and the main characters Milly and Pip’s journey in life are exquisite: 5/5. And that is enough.

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This is a beautifully written novel following the fortunes of Milly and Pip, two Irish young people in London from the 1970s to the present day.
The novel is very atmospheric, The descriptions of London are so vivid I felt I was there.
A very moving story that stayed with me long after I had finished the book.
Highly recommended.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for an arc. All opinions are my own.

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Our London Lives tells the story of Milly and Pip, two Irish immigrants in London from the 1970s to today. The book follows their on-and-off relationship over forty years, set against a changing city.

Overall, this is a touching and memorable book, perfect for those who enjoy romantic reads with a touch of realism.

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This is a beautifully written epic novel leading the reader up to the present through the 1970s. I quickly became totally rapt by the fate of the characters, Pip and Milly, and though the essence of the novel is romance, this is really a novel about a time and a place, and the relationships between people. I'd be tempted to liken this to the 'kitchen-sink' domestic dramas of the 1960s, and I'd do that as a massive compliment to Dwyer, whose narrative style, though seemingly simple, is so evocative of place and interiority of character. Highly recommended, and my grateful thanks to NetGalley and to the publisher for the ARC.

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What a beautiful character driven novel, spanning four decades in the lives of two Irish immigrants, Milly and Pip. They are clearly fragile, vulnerable and slightly broken young people, whom we as readers come to care for from the opening pages .This is a book very much about deep love in its many forms, but please do not expect it to fit comfortably in the romance genre. This is a book about real life, all its warts and all - and there are some tough themes - alcoholism, adoption, child loss, sexual abuse, loneliness, alongside examining London pub life, sense of community and complex familial relationships, which are just some of the elements encompassed in this book.

London stands tall throughout, with its changing faces told with great authenticity, evoking both the eras and landscapes which are acutely drawn. We are also encouraged to consider the socio-economic impact of the gentrification of areas, and the displacement of those people whom called those areas home for pretty much all their lives.

What more can I say - except I absolutely loved every single page of this (apart from perhaps the last few pages - without giving anything away!) and you absolutely must read it.

Thank you to Net Galley for an ARC.

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Beautifully told tale of Irish diaspora in London : shades of Colm Toibin and Patrick Hamilton

From the cover, the London bar setting, and the natures of the two main characters, not to mention the subtle, clear writing, and the trajectories of their stories, I found myself within the particular melancholy tugs of Patrick Hamilton’s world : Hangover Square, Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, The Slaves of Solitude. For me, to be REMINDED of Hamilton by my own sense, rather than any publisher blurb, meant it was the quality of the writing which was doing this.

Ditto, to be reminded of Colm Toibin, and this was not just because the central characters (and indeed many others) are Irish, now relocated to London, for various reasons. Dwyer Hickey creates flawed, unique, complex, believable individuals who work their way inside the reader’s heart, and whom the reader cares deeply for, despite all their wrong turns and mistakes, just as Toibin does

This is very very far from being ‘just a romance’ though the central there and not there relationship between Milly and Pip, across 4 decades, is the point.

It is 1979, and Milly, late teens, arrives suddenly in London, alone, homeless and jobless, in circumstances which might be guessed at. This was at a time when general suspicions about Irish people were high, and it was not straightforward to get employment or to rent. Milly is looking for live in employment, and finds it, courtesy of a tip off from an Irish barman, in a Clerkenwell pub.

The clientele of the pub is varied, at all hours. Amongst the regulars are a group of often rowdy young men from a local boxing club. Amongst them is a dreamier, melancholic young Irish man, Pip, beautiful, potentially a rising star in the profession, but with his own interior darkness and secrets. What isn’t so hidden is his heavy drinking. He seems a slightly odd young man to be pursuing a professional career in boxing. His older brother, Dominic is an up-and-coming- or even already come, jazz trumpeter.

Milly, reserved, in many ways an innocent, and unsuited to the rough and tumble of bar work, spots something in Pip, some connection of pain and secrecy.

The third main character in this thoughtful, immersive book is London itself, and the particular area of its settings. Dwyer Hickey tells the story of the prevailing and changing culture and social history through the place as much as through the people living in it.

And – no spoilers, but the ending is stunning, pitch perfect

I am grateful to the publishers and NetGalley for allowing me this wonderful book as an ARC. I didn’t know this author before, but will now be exploring her back catalogue for sure

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A beautifully written love story with rich multi layered characters and a vivid London setting. The prose is accomplished and the storyline is bittersweet and poignant. The chemistry between Milly and Pip feels authentic and I was fully invested in their relationship. Such tragic souls, all I wanted was them to find their happy ever after.

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