27 Apr 2009 – Amazon voucher from birthday

This book came to my attention when it passed through my hands at work.  Having had a look inside, and checking the price on Amazon, this seemed like a book I really should own, rather than reading the library copy.  And I had a nice big voucher, so the price didn’t impact too much.  

I’m very glad I bought myself a copy.  London has come up as a theme in our Iris Murdoch A Month challenge, but this really brought home the way the city is woven into almost all of Murdoch’s novels (only the two Irish ones don’t have it as a character, and there still manages to be a reference to The Red And The Green in this book).

The book takes themes for the chapters – Under The Net and the characters’ picaresque wanderings through the city; art galleries and churches; the Post Office Tower; the Thames.  Huge amounts of research inform these sections and after each one there is a delightful walk, again full of detail and knowledge, with a hand-drawn map and beautiful sketches courtesy of Paul Laseau.  I particularly enjoyed the walks as they are mainly based around areas I know myself, so I can imagine them in my mind, and imagine taking myself along one of them next time I’m in London.

The crowning triumph of the book is the London Glossary, which lists every single London location mentioned in the books, with a list of the scenes in which it appears. So you can see Murdoch returning again and again to a favourite location; not just the Peter Pan Statue but Charing Cross Road, Chelsea….

So – a fascinating book. Not too "academic" although literary and psycho-geographical theory make themselves known a few times, readable, and re-readable.

I’m going to see about joining the IM Society, too!