A street in London, the people who live there, their lives, hopes, dreams, trials and all the things that influence their rise in fortune or their demise. I was only at the end of the second page when I realised that I had seen this as a TV series. I loved the show and I loved the book. Having seen the story, or should I say stories, played out on the screen, I had faces and impressions and it made it seem very real. I loved the circular way you meet the characters and follow along with them. I didn’t dislike any of them despite their serious flaws, they are all very human and like all of us are imperfect and just mucking along as best they can. In some cases the world is cruel and their circumstances take a turn for the terrible, but in other cases things go their way and they end up in a better place than they had been at the beginning. This is like having an inside view of the goings on in the lives of a bunch of diverse people but all of whom are associated with the street.
The backdrop to all this is the time of the fall of Leyland Bros and the financial crisis of a few years ago. Money is at the heart of much of the book, property values soaring, the ability to become rich witout actually doing any hard work to get there, the crazy behaviour of those who have terrible spending habits (and I put myself amongst them for my bad shoe habit) and the entitled wives of the very well off and their grasping need to constantly improve their homes/bodies/children. I loved the stories of the immigrants trying to build better lives against incredible odds and the joys and tragedy they experience.
Great big meaty story that keeps humming along. I’ve read John Lanchester’s Fragrant Harbour and enjoyed it, but I think this one is my fave so far. Looking forward to reading more of his.