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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, this is real Bloomsbury, 6 Mar 2011
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ILONACAT (WIRRAL, ENGLAND) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Real Bloomsbury (Real Series) (Paperback)
When most native speakers of English hear the word "Bloomsbury" they are likely to think of the Bloomsbury group of writers, artists and intellectuals who flourished in and around that particular London locale in the first half of the 20th century. What this book does is to embrace the many Bloomsburys that have existed and exist today, not only the one centred on Virginia Woolf. So what we get is not a book tinged with nostalgia or laced with lots of anecdotes about VW, her sister Vanessa, Lytton Strachey, and the rest of them.

Bloomsbury has a long history of thinkers, writers and radicals dating back to the seventeenth century when it was mainly fields and when it contained that all-too-rare sight nowadays, a liquorice garden. We meet some of those people here, men and women, Christians and humanists, people who lived and studied in Bloomsbury and who quite often wrote about it too. But in these pages we also meet shopkeepers, printers, booksellers and cafe-owners without whom writers and their associated ilk would have a thin time. There is even a section on one of my favourite places, the London Review of Books bookshop and its adjoining cafe. There is a Welsh Bloomsbury and a Bengali Bloomsbury, as well as the more famous Bloomsbury immediately adjacent to the British Museum. It is only towards the end of the book that we meet the Bloomsbury Group, the famous one, in detail. VW and her associates are neither debunked nor canonized but are simply given their place.

This is a well-written book with plenty of wit in it. It is well-researched but not stuffy.

Why 4 stars rather than 5 ? Two reasons. One, although the author mentions the large number of migrant-workers and students who dwell temporarily in Bloomsbury, I don't think he quotes directly from any of them. And two, the book could have done with more maps. The only one it contains is at the back of the book, and it is not very detailed. I think an improvement for the second edition would be detailed maps at the beginning of each chapter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It made me long to visit the area again, 21 Mar 2012
This review is from: Real Bloomsbury (Real Series) (Paperback)
An excellent guide to this area - mixing the erudite with the anecdotal.

I learnt a lot about the history and complexity of this area - and I agree with Nicholas Murray's rather caustic appraisal of the "Bloomsbury Group". However, as he points out, there is far more to Bloomsbury than the eponymous group. There is a lot of detail about contemporary life in this book in contrast to some London guide books that portray London as a period piece.

It made me long to visit this part of London again - with maps. I agree with the previous reviewer that the book would have benefited from more maps and with greater detail than the one sketchy map at the end. That is my only carp.
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Real Bloomsbury (Real Series)
Real Bloomsbury (Real Series) by Nicholas Murray (Paperback - 15 Oct 2010)
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