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Heads and Straights: The Circle Line (Penguin Underground Lines)

Heads and Straights: The Circle Line (Penguin Underground Lines) [Kindle Edition]

Lucy Wadham
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Description


[Praise for Lucy Wadham]: Penetrating insight and dry observation (Independent)

Beautifully clever and intellectually challenging (Good Housekeeping)

Effortless wit and keen intelligence (New Statesman)

Product Description

From Lucy Wadham, the bestselling author of The Secret Life of France, Heads and Straights is an autobiographical tale of bohemians, punk, the King's Road in the 1970s and family - part of a series of twelve books tied to the twelve lines of the London Underground, as Tfl celebrates 150 years of the Tube with Penguin

'A rich, vital family saga, and a feat of narrative compression' The Times

'Authors include the masterly John Lanchester, the children of Kids Company, comic John O'Farrell and social geographer Danny Dorling. Ranging from the polemical to the fantastical, the personal to the societal, they offer something for every taste. All experience the city as a cultural phenomenon and notice its nature and its people. Read individually they're delightful small reads, pulled together they offer a particular portrait of a global city' Evening Standard

'Exquisitely diverse' The Times

'Eclectic and broad-minded ... beautifully designed' Tom Cox, Observer

'A fascinating collection with a wide range of styles and themes. The design qualities are excellent, as you might expect from Penguin with a consistent look and feel while allowing distinctive covers for each book. This is a very pleasing set of books' A Common Reader blog

'The contrasts and transitions between books are as stirring as the books themselves ... A multidimensional literary jigsaw' Londonist

'A series of short, sharp, city-based vignettes - some personal, some political and some pictorial ... each inimitable author finds that our city is complicated but ultimately connected, full of wit, and just the right amount of grit' Fabric Magazine

'A collection of beautiful books' Grazia

[Praise for Lucy Wadham]:

'Penetrating insight and dry observation' Independent

'Beautifully clever and intellectually challenging' Good Housekeeping

'Effortless wit and keen intelligence' New Statesman

Lucy Wadham was born in London and has lived in France for the past twenty years. She is the author of Lost, shortlisted for the Macallan Gold Dagger for Fiction. Her most recent book is The Secret Life of France.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 191 KB
  • Print Length: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Mar 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ADNP4Y6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,523 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Lucy Wadham is a London-born novelist who has lived in France all her adult life and raised four children there. She started writing fiction as a teenager, mostly poems and short stories with a darkish bent. While reading English at Oxford University she, like many aspiring female writers, developed a fixation with Virginia Woolf and begun mooning about in long cardigans and sensible shoes. She had her first child at 21 and was pregnant with her second when she sat her final exams in 1987, after which she moved to France to be with her French husband.

Her first novel, 'Lost', published by Faber and Faber in 2000, was a thriller about a woman whose son is kidnapped while they are on holiday in Corsica. Highly acclaimed for its pace and passion, 'Lost' was nominated for the Golden Dagger crime fiction award and was twice optioned for the screen .

'Castro's Dream', another thriller, was inspired by her work as a freelance journalist investigating the Basque separatist movement, ETA. It tells the story of the love and rivalry between Astrid and Lola, two sisters whose involvement with the terrorist organisation catches up with them after twenty years when their friend and former lover, Mikel, is released from prison.

'Greater Love' "...Twins Aisha and Jose are brought up in Coelhoso, a remote hill-top village only just out of the Middle Ages. The product of a neglected childhood - their mother was raped - Jose never learns to speak, while Aisha, age 20, escapes to Paris. Jose eventually joins his sister, inauspiciously arriving in the city on September 11 2001. The two siblings carve out new lives: Aisha learning about sex and philosophy under the guidance of a Left Bank intellectual; Jose finding his voice with the help of a charismatic Muslim sheikh. At the heart of the ambitious literary saga lies Aisha's quest to understand her brother, and her own part in his final, catastrophic breakdown. Moving from Portugal to Paris, Morocco to California, Wadham manages to endow each chapter of Aisha's life - any section of which might have made a novel in itself - with a stark authenticity." (The Independent).

Her latest book and first work of non-fiction, 'The Secret Life of France', is a memoir of her marriage to a Frenchman and her discovery of a culture that has, over the past 20 years, baffled, appalled, charmed and conquered her.

She is currently working on a novel loosely based on her experience of growing up in a family of five powerful women.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A little gem 19 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's long been a bit of a mystery to me why Lucy Wadham isn't a more celebrated or recognised writer. Certainly I found her last full-length novel 'Greater Love' stunningly evocative and powerful - more so than anything Ian McEwan or Sebastian Faulks have managed in their last couple of books.

For those who have yet to discover her, this lovely (and beautifully produced) short book is a great place to start. It's less of a meditation upon the Circle Line or Tube than a deeply personal account of growing up in 70s Chelsea. I never lived in that part of the world but it was a place of pilgrimage (by Tube) for me and my mates: it was where you went to discover what was new, what was fashionable, what was 'going down' amidst the Head trendsetters of London. Wadham doesn't say it outright but for the young Londoner looking to grow wings and escape the clutches of a Straight home - in her case, a fabulously colourful but not entirely nurturing milieu - the Tube was nothing less than a lifeline.

Reading this, I found the atmosphere of that time vividly re-evoked. She is very good at capturing the questing spirit of youth, the arrogance that it needs to redefine the world on its terms, and the sadness that comes with understanding all this only when it's too late to do anything with such insight. A little gem of a book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We're all heads on this bus 9 Mar 2013
In Wadham's London of the late 70s, early 80s, the world was up for grabs. Anything vaguely "establishment" was worthy of a kick in the teeth. But, as Wadham so deftly shows, even in the maelstrom of change where her family withstands the strains of drugs, sex and Thatcher, the kids still need tending to. The freewheeling family in this book manages to both go appropriately crazy in those crazy times while they also keep a watchful eye on each other. I love this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A window into a different era 12 May 2013
I am a 90s baby; I was born in 1992, but this account of a group of young girls growing up on the kings road had themes with which i could draw comparisons to my own life. A fascinating read.

Also, you can read it in a few hours which is refreshing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real 'Made in Chelsea' 26 Mar 2013
By Livia L
A gem of a book -- I was so sorry to finish reading it -- I wanted to know more about the family and about the narrator (so much so that now I am getting all her books). The narrator has a very appealing voice -- she is honest, intelligent, witty, incisive and warm in her account of her family; she's an intelligent, sympathetic insider at a very exciting time in 70's Chelsea, where it all was happening. Unmissable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So familiar 12 Mar 2013
By Nadia H
Lucy Wadham's story describes a turbulent, exciting time. I recognize the way she organizes the world in Heads and Straights. Like Wadham, I too experienced the 70's through a youthful, voyeuristic perspective. The older members of the family were more actively engaged with what was happening in the world. Wadham shares the story of loving her family and speaks of the craziness with equanimity. Her story is compelling and leaves me wanting to know more about the beautiful albeit fragile characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mind the gap! 27 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Although this volume represents the Circle Line in the recent Penguin series commemorating the London Underground it scarcely rates a mention. In fact, I can't recall any specific reference to "the Circle Line" throughout . At one stage near the end of the book we learn that Lucy regularly travelled from Gloucester Road to King's Cross, and there are regular references to Sloane Square, but that is about as far as it goes. That omission, however, does not detract from the attraction of the book which tells of Lucy Wadham's experience growing up during the late 1970s in an affluent background in Chelsea, just around the corner from the Kings Road.

While the family was affluent, it was not without its problems, and one of the rime focuses of the book is the reckless and relentless experimenting with drugs of her elder sisters, culminating in Florence (always known as "Fly) becoming addicted to heroin. We are introduced to Eileen, Lucy's maternal grandmother, who had an amazing story which included knowing Virginia Woolf, running a commercial stable, living in Kenya, marrying three times and then taking a Bosnian toy-boy for the last thirty years of her life.

One does feel for Wadham's parents, having their house overrun by their Bohemian daughters' friends and submerged under the scent of their copious drug abuse, though they seem not to have been too bothered, and the overall picture is one of a chaotic but supportive group.

I found it enchanting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful page turner
This book took me to forgotten places much love. laughter and outrageous behaviour. Its a good life. Thank you Lucy
Published 10 months ago by Amynta Cardwell
3.0 out of 5 stars Celebration of growing up and not about the Circle Line
Like the other reviewers, I think Lucy Wadham is a good writer. What the book isn't is a direct celebration of London's Underground transport system which the series of titles was... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Allen Tsui
5.0 out of 5 stars More Metropolitan than Circle, but none the worse for that
A lovely little book that follows the author's family tree; I read it at one sitting, in a Costa in Staines, and the excursion to 1970s Chelsea was very welcome. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Thomas Thurman
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this
An absolutly lovely book that gives you a very real slice of London in the 70's.
A family acting out the social changes of that period, written from the perspective of a... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Jo London
5.0 out of 5 stars Super!
What a super autobiographical snippet.
A lovely quick read, which took me back to the 80s.
Finally provides me the opportunity to claim to be straight - not that it's the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by H. Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hippies and Squares
I'll leave the definition of Heads and Straights to Lucy herself.'The King's Road, as my mother knew, was awash with drugs... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Elodie
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