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penel523 Feb 15th, 2009 05:32 PM

Books set in London / England
Here is a companion post to the one about movies. What are some good novels that are set in London--or England in general?

A few years ago I posted the same question and got some interesting suggestions. It made me begin reading the Inspector Lynley mysteries.

Recently someone has suggested historical novels by Sharon Kay Penman, which I'm trying to get from my library.

What are some other suggestions?

DCJones Feb 15th, 2009 05:45 PM

Another police series which I enjoy is by Deborah Crombie with Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James working for the Met. It's set mainly in London, but does branch out.

GBbabe Feb 15th, 2009 06:50 PM

"London" by Edward Rutherford is a HUGE book, but I was able to slog all the way through it just before I spent three months in London. I found myself thinking about the history of the various parts of London as I walked around. It's not great literature, but it gave me a perspective of London.

Underhill Feb 15th, 2009 08:32 PM

Try "The Bastard's Tale," by Margaret Frazier. It's part of her excellent series about a nun--not all the books are set in London, but this one is. You'll never forget the last two chapters.

Many of Georgette Heyer's Regency books are set in London and are delightful reading.

The Matthew Shardlake historical mysteries by Sansome give a great feel of Tudor London; P. D. James rates "Dissolution" among her top five.

Finally, Christopher Fowler has an excellent series based in London; the first is "Full Dark House.

The Crombie books are some of the best around.

Mainhattengirl Feb 15th, 2009 08:51 PM

I liked "London" quite a lot. I also think "Pillars of the Earth" is good for background on England. Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island" is and excellent funny book, and I once read a , ebook by Paul Thouroux (sp) about riding the trains all around England especially the little gauge trains that are probably gone now. Though about trains, it was more about the towns on the way and the people in them. It was fascinating.

Mainhattengirl Feb 15th, 2009 08:53 PM

edit - should read "a book by Paul Thouroux", not "an e book". Have no idea if it is an e book or not.

Morgana Feb 15th, 2009 11:22 PM

Peter Ackroyd is an acknowledged 'expert' on London and has written some excellent fiction and non fiction books about the city.
I loved Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, some of which is set in London.
Another superb novel is Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

sheila Feb 15th, 2009 11:43 PM

A Tale of Two Cities?

farrermog Feb 16th, 2009 01:53 AM

That's Paul Theroux's <i>The Kingdom by the Sea; A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain</i> [by train and on foot].

For historical context and an explanation of the momentous social changes since the 1880s David Cannadine's highly entertaining and informative <i>The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy</i>.

avalon Feb 16th, 2009 01:54 AM

Not fiction, but the very best writings about London , including it's history are by H. V.Morton. There are 6 or 7 about London , some on English countryside, and some on Italy. He is an exceptional writer.

avalon Feb 16th, 2009 01:57 AM

The above link didn't work, use this instead.

Link to the H V Morton Society

farrermog Feb 16th, 2009 02:27 AM

For a survey of the London literary landscape, Donna Dailey &amp; John Tomedi's <i>London</i> in the Bloom's Literary Places series.

bilboburgler Feb 16th, 2009 03:02 AM

down and out in London and Paris

JoyceL Feb 16th, 2009 04:26 AM

All the detective novels written by Peter Lovesey are great, but especially his Peter Diamond series, set in the city of Bath. Lovesey is a terrific writer.

For non-fiction, I recommend &quot;The Anglo Files&quot; by Sarah Lyall, which I just finished reading. It is a very entertaining look at various aspects of English society and psychology.

yk Feb 16th, 2009 05:38 AM

Second the suggestion of Bill Bryson's <i>Notes from a Small Island</i>.

dorfan2 Feb 16th, 2009 12:06 PM

I LOVE the Agatha Raisin mysteries by M. C. Beaton (just finished reading the newest one). They are set in the Cotswolds. M. C. Beaton also wrote the Hamish Macbeth mysteries that were made into a television series shown on PBS years ago. They are also good, but are set in the Scottish highlands.

Also love the John Rebus detective novels by Ian Rankin - set in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Vttraveler Feb 16th, 2009 01:11 PM

For mysteries I agree Deborah Crombie's are good. Also
Reginald Hill
Robert Barnard
P.D. James
Ruth Rendell
Peter Dickinson

PEnelope Lively's City of the Mind is set in London

Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time

carolyn Feb 16th, 2009 02:42 PM

A great new one is <i>The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society</i>. It is written in the form of correspondence just after WWII, somewhat like Helene Hanff's delightful <i>84 Charing Cross Road</i>.

Muriel Sparks' <i>A Far Cry from Kensington</i> is excellent. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, who is wonderful, has a mystery series as well as an enormous historical series set in Yorkshire but dealing with all the wars from the War of the Roses forward and not yet up to date.

There are tons of English mysteries, my favorite genre. You can look at the site Stop, You're Killing Me to find series listed by date of publication. I agree re Deborah Crombie. Others I especially like are Peter Robinson, Charles Todd, Kate Charles, Bruce Alexander for 17th century, Anne Perry for Victorian, Patricia Hall's Simon Serrailler series, Will Thomas.

I can go on! And don't forget Agatha Christie.

ElendilPickle Feb 16th, 2009 04:37 PM

What? No one has mentioned Jane Bloody Austen? I am shocked - shocked, I tell you!

I'll second Margaret Frazer's Dame Frevisse series, and also suggest Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael mysteries, set in and around Shrewsbury Abbey.

P.G. Wodehouse is a must-read as well.

Lee Ann

lennyba Feb 16th, 2009 06:31 PM

A couple of the Narnia books are partly set in London.

Anything by Ruth Rendell or her alter ego Barbara Vine, the wonderful PD James, Ngaio Marsh. The series by Jasper Fforde - can't think what they're called but they're a takeoff on nursery rhymes.

There's a detective series set in Aberdeen, Scotland that I enjoyed. Stop You're Killing Me lists detective novels by locale if you're interested.

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