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The London Novels Paperback – 25 Apr 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Allison & Busby (25 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749083689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749083687
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.1 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 569,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'MacInnes is a lyrical celebrator of London, and above all, a writer with a purpose' -- The Observer


Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Life in London in the 1950's as portrayed by Colin Macinnes. A wonderful up-beat, humorous and interesting account. Lovely characters and social settings and clever criticism. All three mini novels are a real tonic and very good fun to read!
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the best bits of writing I've ever come across. The moment is captures absolutely perfectly with a very distinctive, readable style. Wonderful characters and a perfectly described time stamp. Good subject matter, sympathetically explored. You can read these novels over and over again and still thoroughly enjoy them.
My only disappointment is that McInnes didn't ever rise to these heights again.
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Format: Paperback
In this trilogy MacInness superbly evokes the era of 50’s London as experienced by immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, along with the trials of integration into a hostile society.
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Format: Paperback
Back to the 80's when I first read these books. Now in one easy package.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x886d05ac) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x888479d8) out of 5 stars Three novels in one volume, one of which is fantastic. 11 May 2006
By C. B Collins Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was able to read 2 of the 3 novels included in the volume. The first novel, City of Spades, was excellent and I would give it 5 stars. The second novel, Absolute Beginners, was likeable and I would give it 4 stars. In this review I will compare these first two novels.

In City of Spades we have the story of a Nigerian, Jonny Fortune, coming to America, full of energy and optimism and good will. He is the narrator for half the chapters in the book. The other chapters are narrated by Montgomery Pew, a white civil servant who becomes captivated by the African and West Indians in London and becomes increasingly entangled in their lives and culture. This literary device of having two nieve narrators, each becoming more familiar and integrated into each other's culture works superbly. But MacInnes is devious and entertaining when he has Montgomery Pew become involved in the worst aspects of African immigrant culture, interacting with pimps, drug dealers,and gangsters. At the same time he has Jonny Fortune become more integrated with a lower class white family that he seeks out because the mother in the family has a mixed race son that is Jonny's half brother. Jonny soon becomes the lover of his half brother's white sister but later is trapped in a criminal conspiracy by her older prostitute sister who accusses Jonny of being a pimp.

In contrast to Montgomery and Jonny, in Absolute Beginners, we have a 19 year old English photographer, Colin, who is wise and mature far beyond his years, who makes wise-guy commentary on the London life all around him, particularly the increasing tensions between African immigrants and lower-class working-class white males. Colin is a wise-guy in the Holden Caulfield, Catcher in the Rye, tradition.

The plot of City of Spades was one in which characters are seen first through the eyes of one narrator, and then through the eyes of the other and the actions of both narrators integrate them more fully in each other's lives. Characters are revealed from multiple perspectives and their interactions continue to complicate the lives of our two protagonists. Absolute Beginners on the other hand is very linear, our protagonist encounters a series of characters, some a bit stereotypical and two-dimensional, over short periods of time,who eventually show back up to assist the protagonist or further complicate the plot.

City of Spades has a sense of discovery that is really delightful. Montgomery Pew becomes so enchanted with Africans that he allows a dance company to move into his apartment, squeezing him out. Jonny becomes so entangled with white women with criminal connections that he nearly goes to prison. Montgomery comes to understand and love Africans more with each chapter, whereas Jonny comes to be disillusioned and disappointed with white London culture until he returns to Nigeria in defeat. In contrast to City of Spades, Absolute Beginners, has a narrator who is a wise-guy and thus does not discovery wonders around him or change internally. He remains slightly preachy and moralistic while making a living as a pornography photographer.

In City of Spades, we are gradually pulled into the London underground of criminals and fringe characters. In Absolute Beginners we get a taste of this world but we also get a taste of the world of White Suprematists among the working class.

In one way the two novels are complimentary in that in City of Spades the characters reveal racial relationships through personal entanglements whereas in Absolute Beginners we see societal clashes.

The most amazing observation to me was that City of Spades was written in 1957 and Absolute Beginners in 1959 and yet the feel of gay and lesbian characters, criminals, ethnic types, and street youth all seem totally contemporary even 50 years later. This is a reminder to me that maybe the social structure of the underground remains similar, generation after generation.

If I had to give the two books a numerical score, I would give CIty of Spades a 98 out of 100, whereas Absolute Beginners would get an 85.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x88800390) out of 5 stars novels about London 26 Jan. 2006
By Bonnie Neely - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
LONDON NOVELS by Colin Macinnes is a collection of three brief, new novels (about 225 pages each) centered around different types of characters in the London scene in the 1950's. The interesting characterizations of Londoners, who do not fit the normal reader's expectations, make the novels informative in that immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean interact within London society. In the first novel, The City of Spades, the main character is part of the British Ministry who must oversee immigration from former British Colonies, and he interacts with a man from Nigeria. In the second novel, Absolute Beginners, you get a look at the teen culture in London's lower middle class in the 1950's when drug problems were just beginning. It shows how crime for the main characters becomes glamorized. The third novel, Mr. Love and Justice, shows the under-belly of London life; therefore, the reader learns, through these settings and characters in various levels of society in a recent historical setting, aspects that made London what it is today. These novels, with vivid descriptions and characters, show the influences of major changes in the 1950's which markedly changed London society. An interesting and informative read, especially for Brits and for anyone traveling to the British Isles. The author shows a good comprehension of his native land.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x887b9c48) out of 5 stars Worth a few bucks 13 Aug. 2007
By Zelie Nic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're into the time period or the whole mod thing, then these books are definatley worth the $10. I agree with the other reviewer though; while a good snapshot of the period, these aren't really the best books. They are by no means terrible...
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8878be7c) out of 5 stars Would be interesting if I was 16 1 Jun. 2007
By vonspector - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Nice document of the time period, but not that great of a book.
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