‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’ said Samuel Johnson. My life friendship with London started a couple of years ago, when I started to discover the city. Since then, I tried to refresh our friendship, by discovering new corners and meeting new people. Although I considered myself quite experienced in mapping and knowing more than the basics about London, after reading this very challenging guide, I discovered how far I am from this basic standpoint.
Heather Reyes collected the most important and interesting literary fragments dedicated to the city, from an array of authors – among them Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Karel Kapek, Julian Barnes, Joseph Conrad, Xialo Guo, Peter Ackroyd – and styles. The reader can have a wide perspective of the various historical stages stages the city went through. However, the book is not aimed to top-notch doctors in literature, but to anyone interested to find out more about the places and people that you should not only see in London, but also understand. The tour starts with love declarations to London, continues with a general tour that will be detailed by descriptions of various issues – ‘pomp and circumstances’, transportation and, of course, the weather – and geographical journeys – East End, West End. One of my favorite sections is that dedicated to the ‘Londoners – old and new’, because what is a city without its brave citizens?
What you will not have in this books are: information about shopping and discounts and the museums and their schedule. Plus, it is not a guide to have in your pocket while you try to find out which tube line will bring you to the next tourist destination. But you have instead the most important guidance for understanding the city regardless of the time spent within its – symbolical – walls. For me, nothing what I’ve read was known and the guide brought me to the real world of London. Four hours of intensive reading later, I see this interesting city with completely different eyes.
As I returned from there less than 24 hours ago, I might say that I will never get tired of life in London.