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Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood Hardcover – 19 Jun 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln (19 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0711234906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711234901
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 331,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"A wonderful study of this iconic London street."

(Michael Bond, author of Paddington Bear)

‘Underneath the veneer of hedge funders, boutiques and gym-fit wives lurk traces of the original Portobello rediscovered by Julian Mash. From the last costermongers in the vegetable market to the antiques traders and music scene, the author uncovers a distinctive world and vibe that could only belong to this street.’

(The Lady)

'... you need this book on your shelf'

(The Londonist)

"a fascinating look at a fascinating part of London"

(Robert Elms BBC London)

"elegy for a lost community"

(Evening Standard)

"a charming addition to the canon.  The 'Lives' in the subtitle - a colourful cast of rock stars, bohemians, hustlers and slum landlords - are brought to life in such detail, you can almost smell the jerk chicken."

(Easyjet Traveller)

About the Author

JULIAN MASH graduated from the University of East Anglia with an MA in Creative Writing in 2011. He spent much of his twenties running a record label and playing in a band before becoming a bookseller. He has lived and worked in and around Portobello Road for the last ten years, half of which was spent working at the Travel Bookshop, a local institution and the inspiration for the bookshop in the film Notting Hill. He is currently manager of the Idler Academy and literary events manager for End of the Road Festival. He was a recipient of a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction in 2013. 


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Top Customer Reviews

By Susie B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 21 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover
Julian Mash used to work in The Travel Bookshop which was situated in Blenheim Crescent off the Portobello Road - yes, the one that was made famous by the film Notting Hill and where he worked from 2007 until its closure in 2011. Julian was constantly amazed by the number of tourists that flocked to the shop - not to buy books and to appreciate the fact that it was a marvellous bookshop in itself, but to find the 'Blue Door' and to experience a flavour of the film. Aware of the area's rich recent history, and concerned about the plight of the individual shops along the Portobello Road and its environs being forced out of the area with huge rent increases, Julian set out to interview a variety of local residents, shopkeepers and stallholders, in order to record their stories. So, as we turn the pages of this book, we travel along the Portobello Road with the author and learn about the shops and market stalls from the past and present, and we have the opportunity to meet third generation stall holders, pub landlords, antique dealers and independent shopkeepers, selling everything from vintage clothes (and a mention of the shop that in 1966 sold Mick Jagger a red grenadier guardsman jacket, which he wore later that day on TV and started a trend in military style jackets) to vinyl records, silver spoons and organic wholefoods. Not forgetting, of course, information about the Notting Hill Carnival and the race riots, and there is also mention of the super rich who have moved into the area and are changing the character of the neighbourhood.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
This is an immaculately woven tapestry of one of London's dreamiest and most iconic streets. Like most Londoners who don't live there, Notting Hill has always conjured up thoughts of gleaming white-stucco houses, searing August afternoons and the bacchanalian chaos of the Carnival, when the streets are showered in jerk chicken bones and cigarette butts. I had no idea that Portobello Road, the epicentre of Notting Hill, had such an extraordinary history. This is not a conventional narrative telling the story of Portobello Road. It's a luminous tapestry, stitched together from the individual stories - uplifting, sad, strange, inspiring - of a range of Portobello denizens, whom the author has interviewed and deftly characterised. Thus the story of Portobello Road emerges from these mini-biographies - akin to Iain Sinclair's 'Hackney: that Rose-Red Empire' but more intelligible, more accessible, dare I say it more real. I really liked how the author poured himself into the narrative, interweaving his own personal experiences with those of the interviewees, giving the book soul. Working as a bookseller and musician for the last decade, he really knows what he's talking about and shares some great stories. Mash's prose is amazingly fluent - so much so that it's easy to forget you're reading a book. I read a third of it in a single sitting - on a bus (not, sadly, to Notting Hill but windy King's Cross). The author doesn't labour the point and is generous about the future of Notting Hill, but his writing can only generate a tinge of nostalgia for the lost world he so tirelessly chronicles as bohemians are supplanted by bankers; musicians, yummy mummys.
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Format: Hardcover
Having traded on Portobello market and lived in the area I was looking forward to reading this book and it didn't disappoint. From the beautiful cover and photographs scattered throughout it has been designed really well and would make a superb present for anyone interested in this famous street in West London. Julian Mash weaves his interviews around his own experiences of life in the neighbourhood and we meet all the characters that have helped make it such a unique place to live. From rock n roll originals like Nike Turner from Hawkwind to vintage clothes traders who have put Portobello on the world fashion map. He even chats to Richard Curtis the writer of the film Notting Hill that helped put Portobello on the tourist map after it was released in the late 1990s, I remember I used to get tourists asking for the Blue Door often and they still continue to flock here! This book is a joy to read and I came away feeling very nostalgic for my time in the neighbourhood. This is a great book for anyone interested in the cultural history of London and for anyone who has ever walked down Portobello Road.
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Format: Hardcover
As a former resident of the Goldborne Road I am so happy to see that someone has finally documented the history and complexities of that end of the Portobello Road so comprehensively and with so much accuracy. The rich folk who live in Notting Hill have been the public face of this Neighbourhood for too long. What's gone on at the bottom of the hill all these years is far more interesting and has a culture that has influenced the world..and that's all captured here. Wonderful book Mr Mash, thank you so much.
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Format: Hardcover
'Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood' explores the people who live and work on and around the road, the industries which thrive along it, and the processes of evolution that have transformed this little pocket of West London over the past fifty years or so. The author, Julian Mash, once sold books at the Travel Bookshop - the inspiration for Hugh Grant's bookshop in the film 'Notting Hill' - and has watched the area change over the years. Economically and socially, Portobello Road has experienced plenty of shocks and stresses, from rent increases to the arrival of new breeds of home-owners. The Travel Bookshop was itself a casualty of these rent hikes, and, when it folded, Mash found himself unemployed and disheartened about the area he had known and worked in for so many years. But despite this unfortunate starting point, his book is an engaging and lively tale of change, people and cityscapes.

As Mash sets out, through interviews and research, to write this book and to re-explore the neighbourhood, you feel his initial sadness about the changes in this neighbourhood subside. Lamenting the loss of earlier celebrated heroes of the Portobello Road - Claudia Jones, credited as 'the mother of Caribbean Carnival', for example - he finds plenty more still living and working in and around the neighbourhood. From the dentist-cum-stand-up-comedian to the boxing champion turns grocer, everyone seems to have multiple, diverse strings to their bows in these parts. But they all share a love for the Portobello Road, its patterns of daily life, its community, and its grimy, uncomfortable, yet always vibrant, past.

'Portobello Road' is a great read for city-lovers, city-dwellers and anyone who is interested in urban neighbourhoods and communities.
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