Imagined London: A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City

Imagined London: A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City

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by Anna Quindlen
     
 

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Anna Quindlen first visited London from a chair in her suburban Philadelphia home - in one of her beloved childhood mystery novels. She has been back to London countless times since, through the pages of books and in person, and now, in Imagined London, she takes her own readers on a tour of this greatest of literary cities. While New York, Paris, and Dublin are also

Overview

Anna Quindlen first visited London from a chair in her suburban Philadelphia home - in one of her beloved childhood mystery novels. She has been back to London countless times since, through the pages of books and in person, and now, in Imagined London, she takes her own readers on a tour of this greatest of literary cities. While New York, Paris, and Dublin are also vividly portrayed in fiction, it is London, Quindlen argues, that has always been the star, both because of the primacy of English literature and the specificity of city descriptions. She bases her view of the city on her own detailed literary map, tracking the footsteps of her favorite characters: the places where Evelyn Waugh's bright young things danced until dawn, or where Lydia Bennett eloped with the dastardly Wickham. With wit and charm, Imagined London gives this splendid city its full due in the landscape of the literary imagination.

Editorial Reviews

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Dr. Watson once described London as "that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained." Fortunately, others have experienced the city on the Thames more sympathetically. In Imagined London, American novelist Anna Quindlen describes her lifelong love affair with London.
Pamela Paul
Rather than lead us to the usual landmarks, Quindlen muses on her real passion: English literature and its London legacy. No literary snob, she veers from Henry to P. D. James and explores Sherlock Holmes's beat, Nancy Mitford's romps and Evelyn Waugh's targets, with room for plenty of Dickens. Best read by committed Anglophiles, Quindlen's appreciation of the literary city shows just how much a reading experience can enrich the physical journey.
The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This latest entry in National Geographic's series of famous writers on famous cities is like the British dish bubble and squeak: a hash of thrown together bits and pieces that might be tasty but isn't very filling. An avid reader, Quindlen (Living Out Loud, etc.) developed an acute case of literature-induced Anglophilia at an early age. As a precocious youngster, she was enchanted by the terrace houses, green squares and horse-drawn carriages of the written worlds of Daniel Defoe, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charles Dickens and Henry James's London. Later swept away by Virginia Woolf and the Mitford sisters, Quindlen doesn't actually visit London until her mid-40s while on a trip to promote one of her own books. Quindlen's narrative essays, while thematic, lack enough specific locations to make them consistently interesting. While she comments on the extraordinary fact that one can still find one's way around London based on 18th-century literary plot points, she doesn't take explicit literary tours herself, leaving readers to wonder to what extent the expectations of a lifelong love affair with the London of her mental library are met. Instead, Quindlen shifts the focus away from herself and toward her experience of traveling with her 20-something writer son, comparing and contrasting their generational impressions of the city. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Quindlen indulges her love of London with a short but satisfying tour of the real and the imagined city. Though she has visited London innumerable times in the pages of literature, she did not make her first real trip there until 1995. Here, she takes the reader with her as she discovers her imagined London and recalls the pages and places of writers from Shakespeare and Dickens to Kathleen Winsor, Martin Amis, and Zadie Smith. Musing on London as literary home for both writers and their stories, Quindlen finds a familiar presence in the streets, squares, and landmarks, notes the blue enamel plaques designating writers' houses, recognizes the slang, and runs into literary ghosts around every bend. Recommended for public and undergraduate libraries, and all Anglophiles. [Quindlen's book is the latest entry in the "National Geographic Directions" series, in which literary greats e.g., Robert Hughes in the recently released Barcelona reflect on their favorite places. Ed.] Melissa Stearns, Franklin Pierce Coll. Lib., Rindge, NH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426201820
Publisher:
National Geographic Society
Publication date:
11/28/2006
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
747,341
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Anna Quindlen is the author of three best-selling novels, Object Lessons, One True Thing, and Black and Blue. Her latest novel, Blessings, came out in 2002. Her New York Times column "Public and Private" won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992; a selection of those columns was published in the book Thinking Out Loud. She is also author of a collection of her "Life in the 30's" columns, Living Out Loud; a book for the Library of Contemporary Thought, How Reading Changed My Life; and two children's books, The Tree That Came to Stay and Happily Ever After. She is currently a columnist for Newsweek and resides with her husband and children in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
July 8, 1952
Place of Birth:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:
B.A., Barnard College, 1974
Website:
http://annaquindlen.net/

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Imagined London: A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
SAJ1 More than 1 year ago
A brilliant book but I would say that wouldn't I as a Brit - but living in New York! I love her sense of irony - something not many Americans understand plus her honesty with the language differences. Yes there are a lot of references to well written English literature so if you are a Philistine don't bother on the other hand if you have a passion for reading plus an interest in London then this is definitely the book for you. I couldn't put it down and intend re-reading it very soon!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
If you love London (either from personal visits or through history and literature), don't miss this book. I disagree completely with the previous reviewer---this book is well worth your time and attention. It is indeed an essay of sorts (and definitely not a novel). The whole point of the book is to visit the London with reference to books the author has read....I did not find it boring at all. On the contrary, I was up very late finishing the book! I have read some, but not all, of the books referenced by the author: it's not necessary to know each individual literary reference to enjoy this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in London, or to anyone who enjoys Anna Quindlen's writing style.
Brian_A More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book, but it becomes too much a reference to great authors of fiction. Not an easy read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would not recommend this book. It's more of a really long essay than a novel. The author writes in such a way that if you haven't read every book she's describing (and trust me, there are a LOT), you cannot understand nor enjoy the book. A few of the authors frequently mentioned are Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle and Virginia Woolf. Not your favorites? Don't read this book! I have read some of the books described in this novel, and I STILL nearly slept through it. Definately not worth your time.