Norman Collins' `London Belongs to Me' starts in 1938 and chronicles the lives of a group of `ordinary' Londoners, set against a background of impending war, then WW2 itself - although this is not a novel specifically about the horrors of war. This is a novel about the lives, with all their trials and tribulations, and successes and failures, of a diverse group of people, struggling to cope with everyday life, in most cases on a very meagre budget. We are introduced to the lonely landlady, in whose house the main characters live, the ageing glamour girl with an eye to the main chance, and my favourite characters, Mr. & Mrs. Josser, adjusting to life with Mr.Josser newly retired, and other characters, too numerous to mention but all fascinating. Norman Collins really brings his characters to life - I felt as if I knew them all intimately and really cared about their lives and various predicaments. This is a big book - some 734 pages - but it wasn't long enough for me. I was really sorry to finish it and feel sure I'll read it again some day. On the basis of this book, I would compare Norman Collins favourably with Charles Dickens in his ability to observe and comment on characters and situations, with subtle underlying humour (although I would rate Collins far more readable than Dickens). There were many occasions when I laughed out loud and many, many more when I smiled to myself - I would rate this book an absolute masterpiece.