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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 (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 455,265 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

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D Webster VINE VOICE on 27 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reading this, I felt completely plunged into London of the late 19th century. The language and more specifically the register of the dialogue - from politicians of the day to poor folk in the workhouse is pitch perfect. I really enjoyed the singing of David Wildeblood's unlikely friend Jo Garrett and his sister Roma which reminded me a little of a Terence Davis film. This is an eye opener as to how our forefathers lived. Quinn paints people of every demographic so well he is like a master painter for detail.

My only caveat was the structure of this glorious novel. I felt that the acute ear for the language and conditions of the past took precedence over the structure. I felt that the dramatic finale with Sir Martin Elder was a bit of hyperbole - I couldn't imagine our narrator David behaving in quite this way. Crimes - most of them innocuous or just seeking information all result in or nearly result in tremendous punishment. It is just as likely that real criminals go unpunished.

Unfairness is the rule of the day for the have-nots who far outnumber the haves. Wildeblood meets one intriuging character called Duckenfield whose happy-go-lucky attitude almost rises above everyday need. I would have liked to get to know him a little better. Maybe he will be in Quinn's next novel?

I am a convert to this writer and plan to buy a copy of this for my brother who has lived in Austrailia for the last 25 years and who is more nostalgic than he knows about England. I think this will be just the job as although it is about the past it seems to obliquely to say something essential about our national character and even present day conditions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Kemp on 16 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover
London 1882, and the young David Wildeblood starts work on Henry Marchmont’s staff as researcher/journalist on the weekly publication The Labouring Classes of London. Wildeblood has been given the increasingly impoverished area known as Somers Town, located between the rail stations of Euston and St Pancras in north London, to investigate the conditions of the poor who live there. Marchmont is based very closely upon the real Henry Mayhew, who was an indefatigable reporter on the conditions of London’s poorer classes. Wildeblood, who has a few secrets of his own, is an articulate and intrepid defender of the poor in his patch. He begins to uncover a network of shady practices by wealthy and uncaring landlords and soon finds himself drawn into a dangerous pursuit of justice. He has a loyal ally in Jo, a costermonger in the area, and slowly develops the trust of Jo’s attractive sister, Roma.
There are a series of violent confrontations as the novel reaches its conclusion. The writing is capable if not of the quality of the best literary fiction. There a few thumping coincidences, clichés, and occasional overuse of selected words – rebarbative appears to be a big favourite of the writer. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining read, which rumbles along quite pleasantly.
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1 of 1 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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1 of 1 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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