Top positive review
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A love letter to London
on 28 April 2008
I love London. The buildings, the tube, the bustle. A few years ago I finally went to South London and discovered a different London. One that doesn't come with map, that is louder, stranger, a mish-mash of cultures - sounds, smells and sights - squashed next to each other in shops less picture postcard and even more alluring for that.
`The Room of Lost things' is set in this area, which is painted in a loving yet real fashion, with no grotty archway or uncomfortable issue (race/sex/politics)glossed over in favour of making it seem desirable to outsiders, and the descriptions in this book are almost poetic at times.
Stories with too many characters can be confusing and distracting, but this, although heavily casted, is not like that. You can picture Stefan the commitment-phobe dancer; Akeel the terrified and conflicted father to be, Marilyn with her tight clothes and massive appetite, and of course, there's Robert, the protagonist - owner of the dry cleaners and many, many secrets.
His story had me going. I couldn't wait to find out more about him, but this wasn't because of any overly dramatic devices or cheesy revelations. Like the character his story was slow, steady and well-thought out.
I've been a fan of Duffy's since finding Immaculate Conceit in Manchester's Central Library many years ago, and her writing has matured, progressed and is even better, which as I love her other books, was a lovely surprise.