My thanks to HQ – Harper Collins – for letting me join this blog tour for This Lovely City – an insightful and emotional debut from the talented Louise Hare.
The drinks are flowing.
The music is playing.
But the party can’t last.
With the Blitz over and London reeling from war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Fresh off the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door.
Touring Soho’s music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home – and it’s alive with possibility. Until, one morning, he makes a terrible discovery.
As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And, before long, the newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart.
Atmospheric, poignant and compelling, Louise Hare’s debut shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects. But, also, that there is always hope.
‘Full of life and love… it made my heart soar, and should be on every Londoner’s shelf’ Stacey Halls, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Familiars
Our Author – Lou R Hare
Louise Hare is a London based author. Her debut novel This Lovely City is due to be published by HQ (Harper Collins) on March 12th 2020 and House of Anansi (N. America) on April 7th 2020. She has an MA in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Birkbeck, University of London.
My Review – This Lovely City
I was lucky enough to attend HQ New Voices launch event, back in February and managed to get a copy of the wonderful This Lovely City then and see Louise speak about why she’d written the book. She said it was because growing up she would have loved to read a book like this, but books about coloured or mixed race people didn’t exist. So, she wrote one.
And it is joyous, you can feel the everyday struggle of post war rationing still experienced by Evie and Mrs Coleridge, the shortage of any luxuries. That and the threat of losing their jobs for the most ridiculous of reasons, often no reason at all, at any moment was always constant. The bigotry and always being referred to as a collective ‘your sort’ and constantly getting the blame.
Lawrie Matthews came ashore from The Empire Windrush ship, that docked bringing migrants to the UK, due to the war and lack of labour to fulfil the job roles – cleaners, manual labour, nursing jobs that were available, and yet the problems Lawrie encountered trying to get a job where taking its toll on him. He would have loved to earn enough playing music at night, that mean he didn’t have to get a job, but that was dream that wouldn’t pay the bills. He eventually managed to get a job as a Postman, with the help of Rose Armstong, a wanton married woman who acquaints herself with Lawrie and is only too keen to show him around.
Evie Coleridge – the prettiest girl in This Lovely City catches his eye and he hers, after a few bumps in the road they start to go out on regular dates, each Tuesday to the pictures. Evie’s Ma, is waiting for Lawrie to declare his intentions, and is saving up to do so properly by running a delivery, for a friend, after work one day he finds the body of a baby in a pond and the Police believe he was responsible. All manner of interviews and questioning of ‘their sort’ occurs. Nearly everyone is deemed guilty by association. And it takes some delving to find the real culprit.
All the lies and deceit come spilling out and with it real truths and hurt. A life time of lost love and families destroyed. Evie and Lawrie can only watch as everything they knew isn’t what they thought.
A uplighting and evocative book it is so incredibly written you wouldn’t believe its a debut from the clearly talented Louise Hare. The scenes set in the dance halls are so that you can hear Lawrie playing his clarinet along with the band as Jonny croons and the band play. Feel the smoky atmosphere, and taste the rum. Louise’s use of words and language excel any preconceived ideas of what this book may bring.
To buy This Lovely City https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/This-Lovely-City-by-Louise-Hare-author/9780008332570
THIS LOVELY CITY has been included in the biggest 2020 round-ups:
One of OBSERVER’S 10 best debut novelists of 2020
WOMAN & HOME Best of 2020
GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Best of 2020
EVENING STANDARD Best books of 2020
MAIL ON SUNDAY 2020 Highlights
I Best of 2020
@LouRHare @HQStories #ThisLovelyCity