Imagined London by Anna Quindlen

9780792265610Anna Quindlen’s Imagined London – “A Tour of the World’s Greatest Fictional City –  will vicariously lead you through familiar landmarks, and maybe introduce you to a few new sites from the pages of well-known authors.  Waiting patiently for Quindlen’s latest book from my library wait list (Still Life with Bread Crumbs), I found this nonfiction guide to London – actually Quindlen’s long essay on her own introduction to the city.

Of course, Quindlen dedicates a chapter to the narrow alleys of Dickens’ novels, as well as the author’s house; John Galsworthy also merits a chapter – motivating me to find The Forsythe Saga. Other famous authors appear – Agatha Christie, Virginia Woolf, Doris Lessing, mystery writer Martha Grimes.  Quindlen has repetitive references to some of her favorite books:  Anthony Trollope’s The Prime Minister as well as Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love (another book I plan to find).

Although she never mentioned books from two of my favorite authors – Jane Gardam and Fay Weldon – she did reference one I had not thought about in a long time – Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber.  Like Quindlen, I remember reading this banned book under a brown cover (we both went to Catholic school) that probably would not be as shocking today as it was then.  I will have to find an old copy to reread and decide.

With references to British history – kings, great fire, wars – and a chapter on the inconsistency of language and idiosyncratic phrasing, Quindlen’s book has her easy conversational style, and is an enjoyable foray into travel writing.  If you are a writer or a lover of British authors, as I am, you may find a special affinity in its pages.  I plan to reread it before I visit London again.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Reading for High Fliers

What do you read on those long flights or while waiting for your next connection? Dominique Browning in her article for the New York Times – High-Brow Lit for High Fliers? Not Me – suggests you forget about catching up on the heavy classics of great literature or “back issues of sobering magazines.”

Instead, she recommends riveting best selling authors like Scott Turow and John Grisham; plot driven mysteries by P.D. James; thrillers by Ruth Rendell. Browning advises…

Next time you are facing a long flight (and predictable delays) swap out those classics for these entertaining paperbacks. At least your trip will feel shorter.”

I still catch up on my pile of New Yorker magazines on my trips, but some of my favorite flying companions are Roald Dahl’s BFG, teen vampires from the Twilight series, and handsome dukes from romances by Catherine Coulter (but I usually hide the steamy cover).

What do you read en route?