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The Streets [Paperback]

Anthony Quinn
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Oct 2012
In 1882, David Wildeblood, a 21-year-old from rural Norfolk, arrives in London to start work at the offices of a famous man. As an 'inspector' for Henry Marchmont's hugely successful weekly The Labouring Classes of London, his job is to investigate the notorious slum of Somers Town, near the new St Pancras Station, recording house by house the number of inhabitants, their occupations and standard of living. By mapping the streets in this way, Marchmont intends to show the world the stark realities of poverty in its greatest city. Befriended by Jo, a young coster, and his sister Roma, David comes to learn the slang of the hawkers and traders, sharpers and scavengers, magsmen and mobsmen, who throng the teeming byways of Somers Town. It is the place of a Darwinian struggle for survival. And the deeper he penetrates the everyday squalor and destitution the more appalled he is by mounting evidence that someone is making a profit from people's suffering. A dinner at the Kensington home of his godfather Sir Martin Elder introduces him to Kitty, Elder's only daughter, and to a cabal of prominent citizens who have been plotting a radical solution to the problem of London's poor. David belatedly realises that a conspiracy is afoot. Passionate but reckless in his urge to uncover it he finds his life in danger, sustained only by the faithfulness of a friend and, ultimately, the love of a woman. In The Streets Anthony Quinn reconstructs an unforgettable picture of Victorian London, encompassing the extremes of privilege and privation, from the baronial mansions of the rich to the 'whited tombs' of the slums. With shocking poignancy and pin-sharp detail he brings to life a world of terrible degradation, yet one redeemed by dark comedy, profound fellow-feeling and the enduring possibility of love.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd (4 Oct 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 9780224096928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224096928
  • ASIN: 0224096923
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.3 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,663,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"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

A tale of love and conspiracy in Dickens' London. From the author of Half of the Human Race.(Channel 4 TV Book Club). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow burning Dickensian Tale 19 Nov 2012
By Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the third novel from Anthony Quinn, and his writing does show the assuredness of one who is at ease with his craft. This is the story of one David Wildeblood, he is newly arrived from Norfolk to the big dark and dirty city that was Dickensian London. He is to go into the employ of a newspaper man, Henry Marchmont, who publishes a weekly news sheet that chronicles the plight of the inhabitants of the slum areas of London, particularly near St Pancras, and other areas.

He is only concerned with reportage and not in addressing their plight or the exorbitant rents charged by the invisible landlords, who are mostly `gentleman' who exploit their tenants in an endless orgy of naked greed. Our Mr Wildeblood is young, inexperienced but keen as a new puppy to get involved. Problem is his accent and lack of street savvy prove to be a barrier to getting close to the people he is supposed to be reporting on. Then after a serendipitous meeting with a young costermonger, called Jo, he makes a true ally and friend who is not only able but also willing to aid him in his job. He is also rather taken with the sultry sister of his new chum, the young Rosa.

Well then he goes off on a campaign to expose the shenanigans of what is happening to the poor folk, and gets himself into all sorts of bother. So what, if anything, is wrong with this book? Well it was just unengaging, I loved the writing style, as it is done as if contemporary to the time it is set in, so a sort of Dickens tale in many ways. The use of language is excellent and very much accomplished, it is just that the story itself is a bit laboured, the characters are well fleshed out, but I found myself not really caring about them, except Jo, that is, who seemed to be a real salt of the earth type.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. Couldn't put it down and collided with a number of trees whilst walking to work, kindle firmly in hand, totally absorbed in Victorian London. The city came alive in a way that only Dickens or Wilkie Collins had conjured up for me before although Sarah Waters had a good stab at it. Quinn has an ear for dialogue and a command of vocabulary reminiscent (in a non naval way) of Patrick O'Brian.
Reflecting on it, however, I have to say that unlike Dickens the characters are, whilst not quite one dimensional, somewhat difficult to see from the side. Paradoxically they are described in a Dickensian manner, just not drawn with as much love or detail - a sketch rather than an oil or even a watercolour. The plot is sound and has been laid out in a little too much detail elsewhere but the naļveté of the country bumpkin is a little tenacious for my taste. The build up to the denouement is shockingly delayed and brief, the actual event, like so many things in life, is over all too quickly- in summary the pace is inconsistent. Furthermore, there are minor loose ends at the end of the book which I generally would find intensely irritating, yet here they add to the veracity of the tale.

It has great charm and I strongly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story from old Victorian days 25 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A good read, kept me interested all the way through. Excellent descriptions of dismal run down streets and poverty and squalour of the poor of Old London - you could have been there so good was the detail. Interesting story line too. I just hate it when good characters don't appear to be who they really are - so there are twists aplenty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Atmospheric and Engrossing Story 19 Jun 2013
We are in Victorian London; the year is 1882 and twenty-one-year-old David Wildeblood arrives in Fleet Street, to start work as a journalist for Henry Marchman, on Marchman's weekly paper: 'The Labouring Classes of London'. David's job is to familiarize himself with the infamous slum area of Somers Town, near St Pancras, and to report on the people living and working in this area and on their standard of living. David's boss, Henry Marchman, has plans to map all of the streets in the slum area and, in doing so, he intends to reveal to the world the extent of abject poverty affecting a huge number of London's population.

As David begins his investigations, he finds his job fascinating, but difficult and even dangerous on occasion; however, once he befriends a young costermonger, Jo, and his striking-looking sister, Roma, his presence among the poor becomes more acceptable, allowing him to delve deeper into dreadful situation of those living a life of deprivation and squalor. David hopes that his work will in some way help to make a difference to the lives of the people around him - however, when through contacts of his godfather, Sir Martin Elder, David discovers that the agencies set up to help provide a solution to the problem, have an agenda of their own, and that unscrupulous people are making profits from the dreadful suffering of others, he realizes that there is a conspiracy to uncover. David is now on a mission to discover the truth, but his naivety, passion and hotheadedness put not just his own safety at risk, but also affects the lives of those around him.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A slow burning but eventually engrossing read
I stumbled upon this book completely by accident. The bulk of my reading is in women's crime fiction at the moment but a passage of 'The Streets' came up when I was searching on... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Christine Burns
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes you deep into 19th century London
I found this book thoroughly interesting, the descriptions of London`s deprived streets in the 1880`s took you straight there. Read more
Published 2 months ago by M. Bailey
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
the two stars are for something of a potboiler but contemporary themes dressed up in thin stage costumes vaguely Victorian.
Published 2 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars The Streets
In 1882, David Wildeblood starts employment as an investigator for the weekly The Labouring Classes of London, Henry Marchmont's paper. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Keen Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book
Interesting reading.I know the area so I can hold the slum pictures he creates, in words,in my mind..Anthony Quinn is a good writer
Published 11 months ago by mrs.evelyn clemens
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointing
This book is very difficult to read as the print is so small. You would need to read it in a good light and possibly with a magnifying glass. Read more
Published 12 months ago by anna
5.0 out of 5 stars A very Doogheno book
Anthony Quinn's "The Streets" is set in London in the early 1880s in the area known as Somers Town, which to those not familiar with London geography is the area around Euston, St... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ripple
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Persevering With
The Streets is an historical novel with a difference. Anthony Quinn draws a very stark portrait of Victorian London contrasting the life of privilege and indulgence lived by the... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Brett H
5.0 out of 5 stars The streets of London are certainly not laced with gold..
The Streets by Anthony Quinn for me was not only a read which kept me entertained but one which I learned what life was really like in the streets of London. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Petra "I love to read"
5.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue and romance in the slums of 1870's London
Comparisons with Dickens are likely to put off some readers that would warm to Quinn's less tragic style. It can be read as lighthearted entertainment. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Prof TBun
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