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202
4.6 out of 5 stars
London: a Novel
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 1999
As I began a new job in the city, I purchased this book to read as I commuted. Over a thousand pages was a little daunting. However, I have been enthralled, excited and intrigued as Rutherfurd propelled me through a city which I now see with new eyes. From the quiet idyllic life before the Romans to the blasting of the city in the Blitz. One moment excited, the next sad. The injustice of some of the events. Right prevails - but not in every case. As the book developed, I felt part of what was happening. The grief, joy and intrigue - each character and family developing over the centuries as the city grows and develops also. This is the magic of fiction woven through the historical fact of the great city of London. It is the first book I have read by this author, I can't wait to begin another.
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88 of 94 people found the following review helpful
This was the first Edward Rutherfurd book I read and I was initially apprehensive at the vast number of pages it contain - over 1300 in fact! The book describes itself as a fictional biopic of London and that's exactly what it is, but the way in which it's done is quite superb, far better than I'd expected, and very much the formula used by Rutherfurd for his other books of different places.
At the front of the book, a family tree is shown detailing generations paths of five or six families over the path of the two thousand years covered by the book and the way in which they are related at various times (this in itself made me wonder what sort of book this would be as it looked as if the book would be remarkably difficult to follow).
The book is structured as a number of relatively short stories at a specific period of time, such as when the Tower of London is built, the Fire of London, The Globe theatre and Shakespeare, The Blitz and many others. In each of these chapters you are introduced to a new set of characters who invariably inherit some of their ancestor's attributes, such as a white streak of hair or webbed hands. You also see the rivalries and hatred shared by these families, covering all classes in the English system at the time of each chapter.
The book is superbly researched and incredibly well written, and I found that I'd actually got through the book far quicker than I'd expected without at any time feeling I was reading something equivalent to War and Peace. This is a definite recommendation from me, particularly if you're interested in the history of London and keen to read about it in a relatively easy manner.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2011
This book is a fantastic journey through London's history and brilliantly connects the key events through a family tree, showing how London and the people of London have changed through time. It is an interesting account of social history and has me talking about the city constantly, and wanting to know more. Once my husband has read the book we're going to complete a tour of the key areas, starting at St Mary Le Bow. I have already bought this book for a colleague as I'm desperate to have someone keep pace with me and share the tales of the Bulls, Carpenters and Flemings... 5 stars isn't enough!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2003
I have just finished reading London for the second time - I feel exactly as I did the first time almost in mourning as I feel the characters were my personal friends. Like other reviewers of this novel I feel I have learnt so much about the History of My City - no matter how useless the information it was something I didn't know before - I truly love this book and it is one of my All Time Great reads. I recommend it to everyone I meet who likes a good read and I defy anyone who loves to get involved in a book not to enjoy it.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2007
If you have a short attention span then this may not be for you. Rutherford's style is distinct but in a story made ou of so many stories rarely does it feel as if he is repeating himself. This is not serious history, this is very well written historical fiction. It is probably the easiest and most enjoyable way to learn about London's glorious and inglorious history. From little details like how streets and areas got their names to piesces of historical fact that were nearly forgotten. A very enjoyable read that should keep you going for some time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 1999
London is supremely woven tapestry charting the lives of families from Celtic tribes through the Roman occupation, the Middle, Stuart, Tudor, Georgian & Victorian ages to the 20th century. Painstakingly researched, Rutherfurd wonderfully melds the fictional with the famous against the backdrop of historical events to tell both a fascinating history lesson and sparkling novel of the City.
Do not be daunted by the 800+ pages. London is essentially a collection of short stories with common families and of course the same location. The high number of era's covered does ensure good pace throughout whilst doing justice to each. The book includes a family tree to assist and these are likely to be the most thumbed pages by any reader.
On the negative side, I did find some of the recurring features to be a little annoying in particular, Duckett's webbed fingers and Silversleeves nose. It also seems most unlikely that so narrow group of families would remain in virtual unbroken interaction for around 2000 years. But this is mere nit-picking, I found London to be an outstanding piece of work in terms of education and entertainment.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 6 February 2004
This is the first of three Rutherfurd books that I recently purchased from Amazon. It is undoubtedly a BIG book - 1229 pages! But once you get stuck, in the pages literally fly off your fingers. Its is a historical novel packed with well researched facts and details that will give you an insight into what was and is London. In the middle of all this, the author manages to deliver the mystery, intruige, passion and emotions that we expect of a novel. Striking this beautiful balance between fact and "fiction" is a feat that not many authors can achieve.
So what is London? I believe Mr Rutherfurd answers this question when begins his preface with the assertion - "London is, first and foremost, a novel". After reading this novel I dare say he was actually refering to the City!
Read it even if you think it might take you the good part of this year to get to the last page. You will not regret it and you might - like me - consider reading it a second time!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2007
Follows the fortunes of several London families from pre-Roman to present day, developing characters and storyline at times of particular historical interest. Jammed full of interesting information about how London evolved, it gives an amazing overview of our city of immigrants. Wonderful.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2011
This is easily in my top five best reads of my lifetime (so far!) :-)

An absolutely fabulous book teeming with historical fact intertwined with Rutherfurd's colourful, believable characters. The family trees devised for this work have been painstakingly constructed, and are interesting in themselves, I went over them a number of times while reading.

I live and work in London and envy the time that this author spent at the Museum of London researching this book. His description of the building works at the Tower of London from inception to completion and St Paul's (ditto) is breathtaking (these are but two of the many iconic buildings that have been covered in this work).

Packed with lively characters, humour, suspense, intrigue and romance 'London' is entertaining and absorbing. Populated with real people from the past whose stories are cleverly linked with Rutherfurd's families.

I've purchased this book for a number of friends and relatives since I read it because I want to share it but need to keep my own copy and read it again (and again).

I haven't yet read any of the other titles written by Edward Rutherfurd, but my mother bought me a copy of `The Forest'The Forest and `Dublin' Dublin will be my next purchase.

Any review for this book with fewer than five stars is a mystery to me, but each to their own I guess.

In my opinion, few people will have reason to regret spending their hard earned on this brilliant, scholarly novel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2007
I have just finished "London" with a real sense of loss and wish that there had been another 1000 or so pages to read. The book is an absolute delight from start to finish, and please do not be put off by the number of pages (1300) - they simply fly by.

The author introduces you to the various characters and their families in such a way that you are immediately familiar with future generations as and when they appear which really helps the book flow. As well as being a highly entertaining novel, the historical facts it presents are always enlightening so one gets the best of both worlds; also there is always a convenient place to stop with relatively small passages within each chapter.

I was not overly keen on Russka, but Sarum was excellent and London better still.

In short, I cannot recommend this book too highly.
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