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Novel set in London: portrait of an ever-changing city

15th April 2024

Our London Lives by Christine Dwyer Hickey, novel set in LONDON; a portrait of an ever-changing city.

Novel set in London: portrait of an ever-changing city

“…those few moments of glory on the Euston Road. Wading through the fumes of early-morning traffic…”

This is the story of Milly and Pip, whose lives intersect across London over several decades. The novel opens in 1979 and closes in 2017.

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From the outset we accompany a very young Milly, fresh off the boat from County Louth, who is looking for work in London. She is a savvy lass but unbeknownst to her she is already pregnant and later in the book we have a brief insight into the events leading up to her pregnancy. She finds work and accommodation in a pub in Clerkenwell and there she meets Pip – their eyes meet over Watney’s Red Barrel and Worthington E…. He is involved in the boxing club nearby and is clearly starting to struggle with alcohol addiction.

Novel set in London: portrait of an ever-changing cityAs the years pass they happen upon each other as they are at different stages of their lives. A tentative relationship develops but the trajectories of the lives make it unsustainable.. They each embark on relationships but there is a connection between the two that never fades and when they meet, the flame of kindred souls is reignited.

Their story is set against a hugely evocative London backdrop, at a time when the Irish diaspora faced considerable prejudice, given the attacks by the IRA across the city. The author captures the ever changing city skyline, set against major events, time and place are vividly evoked. The Grenfell Tower disaster affects one of the characters which binds the story even more to the city.

“This is London, there’s always a smell of spice. It’s on the breath of the city; it’s coming out through the pores of its skin..”

This is an edgier One Day by David Nicholls, told with a ferocity that explores the lives of these two people in a real, gritty and evolving London setting. An immersive and propulsive read.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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