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The Streets Hardcover – 4 Oct 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (4 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224096915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224096911
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 464,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Ambitious, gripping and disturbingly well done." (Kate Saunders The Times)

"Quinn’s most mature novel yet… His picture of poverty’s shaming, dehumanizing effect is powerful, and the recurrent call for pity heartfelt. Ms Eliot and Mr Dickens would surely approve." (Holly Kyte Sunday Telegraph)

"Cements his reputation as an accomplished and challenging novelist… Though it takes place 130 years ago, the questions that The Streets poses about how, as a society and individuals, we tackle deprivation arguably remain just as pertinent." (Peter Stanford Independent)

"Quinn blends his history, his political concerns, his ideals, his plot and his characters elegantly, with a light hand and the pace of a thriller." (Louisa Young Daily Telegraph)

"Displays the unsentimental yet powerful flair for romance that characterized his previous novel, Half of the Human Race. Perhaps most exciting of all, there is a sense that he is still writing within himself." (Tom Cox Sunday Times)

Book Description

Poverty, corruption, loyalty and love in the teeming slums of Dickensian London - another compelling, deeply moving novel by the author of the highly praised Half of the Human Race (Channel 4 TV Book Club). Shortlisted for the 2013 Walter Scott Prize.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Penny Waugh on 18 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Set in 1882, this story is told by David Wildeblood, forced off his career path by an indiscretion that landed him in prison, who becomes a journalist in London. It is also, and even more pertinently, a story of poverty, starvation, villainy and corruption, as David finds as he walks the streets of Somers Town, painfully learns the ways of the place and the argot, and gradually discovers the ploys of criminal landlords who have thought up a great racket for defrauding their tenants, tearing down houses without thought of relocating those tenants who have little to look forward to except the workhouse.
Or not really without thought. Hand in hand with the property scams goes a scheme to remove the 'undeserving' poor from the streets of London where they are seen as a threat to the rich, to sinister new communities in the countryside. David is horrified and at considerable personal cost begins to fight the landlords.
This is a good story, exciting and moving, and though sometimes it begins to read as rather dry social history, it always has the element of surprise and an engaging set of characters, from David himself, Jo the coster monger and his sister Roma, and Henry Marchmount, the newspaper proprietor too fond of gambling, to upper class Kitty and her father, David's godfather, and to the people of the streets, including tragic Mrs Nicholls and the happy wanderer William Duckenfield.
It is too easy to forget how, relatively recently, the warring worlds of the British upper and underclasses had reached such depths. For all the poverty and crime the residents of the slums clung to what they knew and were terrified of upheaval and change.
An excellent and extremely thought-provoking book. The detail is often horrific; the reality must have been appalling.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Denise4891 TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anthony Quinn's third novel The Streets tells the story of David Wildeblood, a troubled young man from Norfolk who arrives in London to work on a weekly publication which charts the lives of the people who live in the areas around St Pancras station. David is somewhat naive when he first arrives in the capital, and is thrown in at the deep end when his boss and mentor, Henry Marchmont, takes him on a tour of Somers Town and opens his eyes to the squalor and poverty which exists there.

David is horrified by what he finds; once grand houses split into ramshackle dwellings with families of six or more sharing one damp, lice-infested room. He's even more shocked by the realisation that the profiteering landlords of these properties are `respectable' local businessmen who turn a blind eye to the degradation and filth in which their tenants scrape an existence.

Despite Marchmont's warning that "Our mission is to observe, to enquire, to report. It is not ours to interfere", David finds himself drawn to the cause of the downtrodden inhabitants of Somers Town and with the help of Jo, a local costermonger, and his sister Roma, his investigations take him deeper and deeper into a web of corruption and deceit.

David is our narrator, and a fine job he makes of it; his voice growing in confidence as the story progresses. It's a very atmospheric novel which captivated me from the beginning. I've read quite a few modern/Victorian novels which chronicle the plight of the poor and destitute of London.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It is 1881 and David Wildeblood is a young man who comes to London and begins work as the latest recruit for a successful weekly periodical, "The Labouring Classes on London." For the last two years the owner, Mr Marchmont, has investigated the lower classes and chronicled the findings, his aim to understand the causes and conditions of poverty. At first, David has immense problems carrying out his task of speaking to the inhabitants of the area he has been assigned. He doesn't understand the slang, the accents and the people who live there are suspicious of his motives. Then David meets Jo Garrett, who befriends him and accompanies him on his travels, and his mysterious sister Roma.

This is a novel which is very evocative of the time and place where it is set. The author has a wonderful hero in David Wildebood. He is a little uncomfortable, well meaning and totally naive, but always has the best intentions. While in London he meets his mysterious godfather, Sir Martin Elder, and his beautiful daughter Kitty. He also investigates the slum landlords in the area and uncovers a conspiracy during his travels. This book weaves the conspiracy plot, Victorian views of the poor, the horrors of slum housing and the fear of the workhouse, social reform and corruption in an interesting novel. It would be ideal for reading groups with much to discuss and think about, as well as a great storyline and characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sue K VINE VOICE on 30 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Anthony Quinn has given us a wonderful insight into Victorian London of the 1880s - drawing parallels between the well heeled and the abject poor. He describes the area of Somers Town as if you were walking through the streets yourself. David Wildeblood is a young, somewhat naive journalist new to London from Norfolk where he is assigned work on a weekly paper called The Labouring Classes of London. It doesn't take him long to realise that his job is more about investigation than reporting on the lowly souls, uncovering some unsavoury goings on with dodgy slumlords and bogus leaseholders which puts young Wildblood's life in jeopardy.

I enjoyed the dramatic content of the book but it was hijacked by the author's ready acknowledgment of drawing on two big studies of London in the 1880s by Henry Mayhew and Charles' Booth, and at times the information gleaned from this studies rather overtook the drama being played out - which made me feel disengaged at times with Wildeblood and his associates.

I did however enjoy this well written book though, and felt I had surely learnt a lot more about the poor and downtrodden of Victorian London and the story will stay with me for a while.
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