Bookreview of This Lovely City
This Lovely City where this book is set is London. This is not the London of the present day however but the London of the Windrush generation. It follows one man in particular, Lawrie, who comes fro m Jamaica and his story reveals so many more. I think that this novel is so much more than just a novel – I was taken to a new place and time, into a news story that has only been on our screens, and to the hearts and minds of people who moved half way across the world for a new life..
A fascinating read about the Windrush generation who come to London after the war. In search of a new life, they encounter poverty racism and more. This is a very timely read given the fact that the Windrush scandal has been in the news recently.
The story follows Lawrie who moves from Jamaica. He works as a postman and at night, the world of jazz and music come alive as we follow his time as an newly arrived immigrant. The new life takes some adjustment too but he copes well – it’s everyone else who seems to have a problem with ‘people like him’.
There’s another thread at the same time about a young mixed race woman who has been born and brought up in London by her white mother. With overtones of multiculturalism, racism and human endurance, this is one powerful read. This is a different time to now: we are in the 1940s in the novel, but in many ways it’s very similar. That is the sad thing. You could take the Windrush references and the references to music, politics etc and this could easily be a story in the modern day. Prejudice and discrimination have lingered throughout time and this is the sad realisation of the novel. How we treated people who were granted the chance to start afresh.
There’s one incident in the book in particular where an event tests the characters to the limit. This was very revealing in how the public and police treated ‘outsiders’. The book felt very sadly real at this point and I stopped reading. It made me think.
Having said that, this is also a novel of hope, human endurance and there’s quite a bit of humour here too. There’s a wonderful cast of characters who just jump from the page. And for a music/jazz lover like me, this was a cool chance to experience post-war London and the music which came from the Caribbean. I am still tapping my toes to it.
Recommended. I think this will provide a lot of discussion at bookclubs!