Information

What did the word “fascist” mean in an early 1930's novel set in Italy?


Today the word "fascist" is used by many people as not much more than a swear word, due to how World War 2 unfolded. However, what precise meaning did it carry when used to describe a person in the 1930's?

In a novel written and set in the 1930's, the main character is a tourist on a trip in Italy, misses a train, gets lost, and enjoys this experience so much that he intentionally avoids being found for several weeks. Two times is the word "fascist" used in the novel, once a "young fascist" asks him for a light for his cigarette, and another time a "fascist" is described to stop him at a train station, says he recognized him from the newspapers as the lost foreign tourist, and says his wife is looking for him. The main character quickly scribbles a telegraph message to tell his family he is all right, gives this message with some money to cover the telegraph fee, and the "fascist" lets him go, and fulfills the task of bringing the telegraph to the post office.

What kind of person did this word describe? Was it like a job description? If so, what did they do? From the novel it seemed to be like a kind of detective or policeman, but he didn't detain or question the "lost person". If not, then what else could it mean? As fascism was the current political system in Italy at that time, what information could this word carry, would it be similar to call some random person in the Soviet Union a communist, or a random person in a democratic country a democrat (not in the USA, where it is more specific to a political party)? Otherwise what, a political activist? How would he then be recognized as such in a train station, and what kind of information or description would the author want to deliver with it?

The novel itself doesn't seem to carry any kind of political message or sociological commentary. It simply focuses on the private life of a few people without any focus on the political landscape of the era.

I wish to simply know what kind of person I should imagine this character as.


The term would be used for people who were identifiable as members of the National Fascist Party or its subsidiary organisations. They tended to wear uniforms (to an extent that has no parallel in US politics) so they would be fairly easy to identify.

Reading about the party will give you an idea of the opinions they were likely to hold, and act on, but none of those would have involved giving well-behaved foreign tourists a hard time.


Simply, a member of a fascist youth organization. They possibly had some uniform or a badge that would identify them. This is like a boy-scout in the USA.


Aspects of the Novel

Aspects of the Novel is the publication of a series of lectures on the English language novel, delivered by E. M. Forster at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1927. Using examples of classic works by many of the world's greatest writers, he discusses seven aspects he deems universal to the novel: story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.

Forster dismisses the method of examining the novel as a historical development, in preference to an image of all novelists throughout history writing simultaneously, side by side. He first establishes that, if nothing else, a novel is a story that takes place over a period of time. He stresses the importance of character, maintaining that both "flat" and "round" characters may be included in the successful novel. He regards the necessity of plot, which creates the effect of suspense, as a problem by which character is frequently sacrificed in the service of providing an ending to the novel. Fantasy and prophecy, which provide a sense of the "universal," or spiritual, Forster regards as central aspects of the great novel. Finally, he dismisses the value of "pattern," by which a narrative may be structured, as another aspect that frequently sacrifices the vitality of character. Drawing on the metaphor of music, Forster concludes that rhythm, which he defines as "repetition plus variation," allows for an aesthetically pleasing structure to emerge from the novel, while maintaining the integrity of character and the open-ended quality that gives novels a feeling of expansiveness.


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IN 2016, a 45-year-old schoolteacher in Athens, Greece, arrived at the emergency room of the Hygeia Hospital. A non-smoker with no major health issues, she presented with unusual symptoms— a fever over 103 degrees, a dry cough and severe headache. When the ER doctor examined her, it was noted that the lower part of her left lung was rattling when she breathed, and a chest X-ray confirmed an abnormality.

Thinking this a case of bacterial pneumonia, doctors treated her with antibiotics. But over the next two days, the woman’s condition deteriorated—and the pneumonia lab test came back negative. As her breathing began to fail, she was supplied with oxygen and a new set of medications. Meanwhile, she was tested for a broad variety of possible culprits, including various strains of the flu, the bacteria that cause Legionnaires disease, whooping cough, and other serious respiratory diseases. All came back negative, as did tests for SARS and MERS.

In fact, only one test turned up positive, but it was a result so surprising that doctors ran it again. The result was the same: the patient was suffering from a familiar but inscrutable infection known as 229E—the first human coronavirus ever discovered.

The severity of the schoolteacher’s condition would have come as a surprise to the researchers in the early 1960s who discovered 229E. That’s because they were looking for the viruses responsible for the common cold. By the mid-20th century, scientists had worked out techniques to isolate some viruses, but their research left many strains unaccounted for—about 35% of people with colds had viruses that scientists weren’t able to identify.

In 1965, Dorothy Hamre, a researcher at the University of Chicago, took this medical blind spot as a challenge. As she studied the tissue cultures of students with colds, she discovered a new kind of virus, which became known as 229E.

NASAL DRIP: Dr. David Tyrrell places a common cold virus into the nostril of a patient during a research trial in 1966.

PA Images via Getty Images

At the same time, a group of researchers in England, led by Dr. David Tyrrell, was learning more about the common cold. They, too, isolated what appeared to be a new type of virus in tissue culture. When Tyrrell’s team examined it under an electron microscope, they found that it resembled a virus that had been isolated in the 1930s from chickens with bronchitis. It was a coronavirus—the first proven to infect humans.

“These were always very important viruses in animals,” says Dr. Ken McIntosh, a researcher at Harvard Medical School. “There was this virus called Avian Bronchitis Virus in chickens. It was very important commercially and vaccines were available.”

There is a fascinating time capsule aspect to this early research. Whereas biological studies are conducted today with strict containment and safety procedures, things were a bit more freewheeling a half-century ago. A contemporary newspaper account of Tyrrell’s findings noted how his team ensured that the virus they had isolated wasn’t already present in the organ cultures they were growing it in. “They put samples of the medium into the nose of 113 volunteers. Only one caught a cold. That took care of that.”

COLD WARRIOR: Dr. Ken McIntosh of Harvard Medical School was part of the team that discovered OC43, an early coronavirus, in 1967.

Boston Children Hospital Archives

At the time of Hamre and Tyrrell’s discoveries, Dr. McIntosh was part of a team at the National Institutes of Health that was also looking at causes for the common cold. (“Quite independently,” he adds, as those teams hadn’t published any research yet.) Dr. McIntosh’s team discovered what is now known as OC43, another common human coronavirus that still leads to respiratory infections today. In 1968, the term “coronavirus” was coined, based on how, under an electron microscope, its crown-like surface resembled the Sun’s outer layer, called the corona.

While the discovery of novel coronaviruses like 229E and OC43 generated great media interest at the time—one article boldly proclaimed that “science has tripled its chance for eventually licking the common cold”—Dr. McIntosh recalls that the scientific community didn’t actively focus on investigating coronaviruses again until the emergence of SARS in 2003. Because 229E and OC43 caused relatively mild illnesses in people, doctors could treat them much like colds caused by other viruses: fever reducers, cough suppressants and the occasional bowl of chicken soup.

Then came the 2003 SARS outbreak, which began with a coronavirus in China and ultimately spread to 29 countries. Though that disease was ultimately confirmed to have infected just 8,096 people, there were 774 deaths attributed to it—a shockingly high mortality rate that caused researchers to take a second look at the virus class. “When SARS came along, the world of coronaviruses suddenly changed and it became much larger and much more technical,” Dr. McIntosh recalls.

Since then, two more coronaviruses that also cause colds—NL63 and HKU1—have been discovered. And it wasn’t until 2012—nearly 50 years after its discovery—that the complete genome of 229E was finally sequenced. In the meantime, a number of case reports were published showing that 229E could potentially cause severe respiratory symptoms in patients with compromised immune symptoms, though for most healthy people its impact is mostly limited to a cold.

Despite the intense scrutiny that coronaviruses have undergone since SARS, it’s still not altogether clear why three coronaviruses—SARS-CoV-1, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 (the source of the COVID-19 pandemic)—have led to far more severe symptoms and a higher mortality rate, while the other four known human coronaviruses remain much milder.

One thing they all have in common: bats. All known coronaviruses that infect humans appear to originate in bats. The viruses then typically spread to another animal—global “wet markets” and open-air food stalls are perfect cross-species breeding grounds for this—before eventually making it to humans. With OC43, for example, it was passed to humans by cattle and may have been circulating since the 18th century. While MERS-CoV, by contrast, transferred to humans from camels. Animal intermediaries are suspected for the other human coronaviruses as well, including SARS-CoV-2.

The schoolteacher in Greece eventually recovered from her illness and thankfully never required the use of a ventilator to aid her breathing. Scans of her lungs taken two years after her original trip to the ER showed that they had recovered and were healthy. Still, this severe response to what most people consider “just a cold” highlights one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with coronaviruses—they produce a vast range of symptoms with a wide amount of health impacts across the population.

VIRUS HUNTER: Dr. Wayne Marasco, who worked on SARS and MERS outbreaks, is investigating antibodies that can be used to treat COVID-19.

Bryce Vickmark, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

“If you take a look at the spectrum of diseases in the outbreak right now,” says Dr. Wayne Marasco, a researcher at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who has studied SARS, MERS and COVID-19, “there are people who are asymptomatic and people who are dying.”

Dr. McIntosh suspects that coronaviruses will continue to perplex researchers. First, because coronaviruses are large and complex, and second because they can change relatively easily on a genetic level. He notes that these viruses can also recombine fairly easily within the same cell, and that such mutations are likely what led to both the coronavirus that causes SARS and the novel coronavirus that has caused the current pandemic.

“Coronaviruses have the largest RNA genome of any of the animal viruses,” Dr. McIntosh says. “And it has a lot of secrets.”


100 Must-Read Novels Set in London

There&rsquos a reason cities are such fertile terrain for novels: they&rsquore full to the brim with people, in all their variety. Rich, poor, hopeless or spurred by the dream that brought them to the city in the first place, they come from all over the world and speak many languages, many varieties of each of those languages. London epitomizes all of those things, and so here is your list of 100 novels set in London, whether wholly or partly set there &mdash in different parts of the city, in different sort of communities, at different points in history.

This is, of course, not an exhaustive list, and like all non-exhaustive lists the choices made for its content are, to some extent, subjective. But nonetheless, these novels set in London will give you a good feel for the history, culture, and geography of the city.

&ldquoIdentical twins, Georgia and Bessi, live in the loft of 26 Waifer Avenue. Their Nigerian mother puts cayenne pepper on her Yorkshire pudding and has mysterious ways of dealing with homesickness their father angrily roams the streets of Neasden. Older sister Bel discovers sex, high heels and organic hairdressing, the twins prepare for a flapjack empire, and baby sister Kemy learns to moonwalk for Michael Jackson. How will Georgia and Bessi cope in a world of separateness and solitude, and which of them will be stronger?&rdquo

&ldquoTwenty-three-year-old Zhuang arrives in London to spend a year learning English. Struggling to find her way in the city, and through the puzzles of tense, verb and adverb she falls for an older Englishman and begins to realise that the landscape of love is an even trickier terrain&hellip&rdquo

&ldquoDorothy has walked away from a bad thirty-year marriage, an affair gone sour and a dangerous obsession. Between her visits to the doctor and the music lessons she gives to bored teenagers, she is trying to rebuild a life. It&rsquos not immediately clear why her neighbour, Solomon, is living in the village, but his African origin suggests a complex history that is at odds with his dull routine of washing the car and making short trips to the supermarket.&rdquo

&ldquoAnna Browne is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life. Her day job as a receptionist in bustling London isn&rsquot exactly her dream, yet she has everything she wants. But someone thinks Anna Browne deserves more&hellip When a parcel addressed to Anna Browne arrives, she has no idea who has sent it. Inside she finds a beautiful gift &ndash one that is designed to be seen. And so begins a series of incredible deliveries, each one bringing Anna further out of the shadows and encouraging her to become the woman she was destined to be. As Anna grows in confidence, others begin to notice her &ndash and her life starts to change. But who is sending the mysterious gifts, and why?&rdquo

6. A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

&ldquoLondon, the week before Christmas, 2007. Seven wintry days to track the lives of seven characters: a hedge fund manager trying to bring off the biggest trade of his career a professional footballer recently arrived from Poland a young lawyer with little work and too much time to speculate a student who has been led astray by Islamist theory a hack book-reviewer a schoolboy hooked on skunk and reality TV and a Tube driver whose Circle Line train joins these and countless other lives together in a daily loop.&rdquo

&ldquoAt thirty-six, Will is as hip as a teenager. He&rsquos single, child-free, goes to the right clubs and knows which trainers to wear. He&rsquos also found a great way to score with women: attend single parents&rsquo groups full of available (and grateful) mothers, all hoping to meet a Nice Guy. Which is how Will meets Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old on the planet. Marcus is a bit strange: he listens to Joni Mitchell and Mozart, looks after his mum and has never owned a pair of trainers. But Marcus latches on to Will &ndash and won&rsquot let go. Can Will teach Marcus how to grow up cool? And can Marcus help Will just to grow up?&rdquo

&ldquoLondon, 1958. A new phenomenon is causing a stir: the teenager. In the smoky jazz clubs of Soho and the coffee bars of Notting Hill the young and the restless &ndash the absolute beginners &ndash are revolutionising youth culture and forging a new carefree lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock&rsquon&rsquoroll. Moving in the midst of this world of mods and rockers, Teddy gangs and trads., and snapping every scene with his trusty Rolleiflex, is MacInnes&rsquo young photographer, whose unique wit and honest views remain the definitive account of London life in the 1950s and what it means to be a teenager.&rdquo

&ldquoRichard Troy used to be the hottest actor in London, but the only thing firing up lately is his temper. We all love to love a bad boy, but Richard&rsquos antics have made him Enemy Number One, breaking the hearts of fans across the city. Have the tides turned? Has English rose Lainie Graham made him into a new man? Sources say the mismatched pair has been spotted at multiple events, arm in arm and hip to hip. Could the rumours be right? Could this unlikely romance be the real thing? Or are these gifted stage actors playing us all?&rdquo

&ldquoHarry Preston says goodbye to the provinces and comes to London looking for life and adventure. It is the mid-50s and he soon finds himself in the impoverished and slightly seedy world of the emerging Beat Generation. As he progresses through the ranks of would-be artists and deluded romantics of Soho and Notting Hill, he begins to make sense of the world and his role in it.&rdquo

11. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

&ldquoIfemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion &mdash for each other and for their homeland.&rdquo

&ldquoMichael Holme is a violinist, a member of the successful Maggiore Quartet. He has long been haunted, though, by memories of the pianist he loved and left ten years earlier, Julia McNicholl. Now Julia, married and the mother of a small child, unexpectedly reenters his life and the romance flares up once more.&rdquo

13. Atonement by Ian McEwan

&ldquoOn a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment&rsquos flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia&rsquos childhood friend. But Briony&rsquos incomplete grasp of adult motives&mdashtogether with her precocious literary gifts&mdashbrings about a crime that will change all their lives.&rdquo

&ldquoJulian Fellowes&rsquos Belgravia is the story of a secret. A secret that unravels behind the porticoed doors of London&rsquos grandest postcode. Set in the 1840s when the upper echelons of society began to rub shoulders with the emerging industrial nouveau riche, Belgravia is peopled by a rich cast of characters. But the story begins on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. At the Duchess of Richmond&rsquos new legendary ball, one family&rsquos life will change forever.&rdquo

15. Brick Lane by Monica Ali

&ldquoAfter an arranged marriage to Chanu, a man twenty years older, Nazneen is taken to London, leaving her home and heart in the Bangladeshi village where she was born. Her new world is full of mysteries. How can she cross the road without being hit by a car (an operation akin to dodging raindrops in the monsoon)? What is the secret of her bullying neighbour Mrs. Islam? What is a Hell&rsquos Angel? And how must she comfort the naïve and disillusioned Chanu?&rdquo

&ldquoAs Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.&rdquo

&ldquoSet against the backdrop of the Brixton race riots in London in the 1980s, this novel tells a story of overcoming obstacles from a teen&rsquos perspective. Brenton Brown, a 16-year-old mixed-race youth, has lived in a children&rsquos home all his life and is haunted by the absence of his mother. Complications arise, however, when he finally meets his mother and then falls dangerously in love with his half-sister. Killer Terry Flynn also scars Brenton&rsquos life and leaves him wanting revenge. Through it all, this determined teen is driven to pursue education and recognize his true self in the midst of chaos.&rdquo

&ldquoIt&rsquos 2008 and things are falling apart: Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers are going under, and the residents of Pepys Road, London&mdasha banker and his shopaholic wife, an old woman dying of a brain tumour and her graffiti-artist grandson, Pakistani shop owners and a shadowy refugee who works as the meter maid, the young soccer star from Senegal and his minder&mdashare receiving anonymous postcards reading &ldquoWe Want What You Have.&rdquo Who is behind it? What do they want?&rdquo

&ldquoWhen a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman&rsquos severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible&ndashand Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on one of the suspects, Strike and Robin delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them&hellip&rdquo

20. Chasing Charlie by Linda McLaughlan

&ldquoWhen unlucky-in-love Sam bumps into her first boyfriend, the charming but roguish Charlie, she falls head first for him all over again. Even though he broke her heart, she&rsquos determined to win him back &ndash even if she has to chase him all over London.&rdquo

&ldquoIn London&rsquos changing heartland, architect Matthew Halland is aware of how the past and the present blend. It stirs memories of his boyhood, the early years of his daughter Jane and the failed marriage that he has almost put behind him. Here too is the London of prehistory, of Georgian elegance, of the Blitz. But Matthew is occupied with constructing a new future for London in Docklands, and with it he begins to forge new beginnings of his own.&rdquo

&ldquoMeet Rebecca Bloomwood. She has a great flat, a fabulous wardrobe full of the season&rsquos must-haves, and a job telling other people how to manage their money. She spends her leisure time &hellip shopping. Retail therapy is the answer to all her problems. She knows she should stop, but she can&rsquot. She tries Cutting Back, she tries Making More Money. But neither seems to work. The letters from the bank are getting harder to ignore. Can Becky ever escape from this dreamworld, find true love, and regain the use of her credit card?&rdquo

&ldquoThe Coram man takes babies and money from desperate mothers, promising to deliver them safely to a Foundling Hospital in London. Instead, he murders them and buries them by the roadside, to the helpless horror of his mentally ill son, Mish. Mish saves one, Aaron, who grows up happily unaware of his history, proving himself a promising musician. As Aaron&rsquos new life takes him closer to his real family, the watchful Mish makes a terrible mistake, delivering Aaron and his best friend Toby back into the hands of the Coram man.&rdquo

&ldquoOn a sultry afternoon in the summer of 1936 a young woman is witness to an attempted murder in a London hotel room. Nina, a West End actress, faces a dilemma: she shouldn&rsquot have been at the hotel in the first place, and certainly not with a married man. But once it becomes apparent that she has seen the face of the man the newspapers have dubbed &lsquothe Tie-Pin Killer&rsquo she realises that unless she acts quickly, more women will die.&rdquo

&ldquoDamage is the gripping story of a man&rsquos desperate obsession and scandalous love affair. He is a man who appears to have everything: wealth, a beautiful wife and children, and a prestigious political career in Parliament. But his life lacks passion, and his aching emptiness drives him to an all-consuming, and ultimately catastrophic, relationship with his son&rsquos fiancée.&rdquo

26. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

&ldquoWhen Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she&rsquos shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals. Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty &ndash these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.&rdquo

&ldquoFrances Burney&rsquos first and most enduringly popular novel is a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life in late eighteenth-century London. As she describes her heroine&rsquos entry into society, womanhood and, inevitably, love, Burney exposes the vulnerability of female innocence in an image-conscious and often cruel world where social snobbery and sexual aggression are played out in the public arenas of pleasure-gardens, theatre visits, and balls. But Evelina&rsquos innocence also makes her a shrewd commentator on the excesses and absurdities of manners and social ambitions &ndash as well as attracting the attention of the eminently eligible Lord Orville.&rdquo

&ldquoNeve is a writer in her mid-30s married to an older man, Edwyn. For now they are in a place of relative peace, but their past battles have left scars. As Neve recalls the decisions that led her to this marriage, she tells of other loves and other debts, from her bullying father and her self-involved mother to a musician who played her and a series of lonely flights from place to place. Drawing the reader into the battleground of her relationship, Neve spins a story of helplessness and hostility, an ongoing conflict in which both husband and wife have played a part. But is this, nonetheless, also a story of love?&rdquo

&ldquoLondon, 1939, and in the grimy publands of Earls Court, George Harvey Bone is pursuing a helpless infatuation. Netta is cool, contemptuous and hopelessly desirable to George. George is adrift in a drunken hell, except in his &lsquodead&rsquo moments, when something goes click in his head and he realises, without a doubt, that he must kill her. In the darkly comic Hangover Square Patrick Hamilton brilliantly evokes a seedy, fog-bound world of saloon bars, lodging houses and boozing philosophers, immortalising the slang and conversational tone of a whole generation and capturing the premonitions of doom that pervaded London life in the months before the war.&rdquo

30. Hearts and Minds by Amanda Craig

Rich or poor, five people, seemingly very different, find their lives in the capital connected in undreamed-of ways. There is Job, the illegal mini-cab driver whose wife in Zimbabwe no longer answers his letters Ian, the idealistic supply teacher in exile from South Africa Katie from New York, jilted and miserable as a dogsbody at a political magazine, and fifteen-year-old Anna, trafficked into sexual slavery. Polly Noble, an overworked human rights lawyer, knows better than most how easy it is to fall through the cracks into the abyss. Yet when her au pair, Iryna, disappears, Polly&rsquos own needs and beliefs drag her family into a world of danger, deceit and terror.

&ldquoTwo women two different worlds. Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold. Nina is sophisticated and independent &ndash entirely in control. When the pair meet, Nina generously draws Emma into her life. But this isn&rsquot the first time the women&rsquos paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did&hellip But what exactly does Nina want from her? And how far will she go in pursuit of it?&rdquo

32. Here&rsquos Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane

&ldquoDespite the oddballs that keep turning up on her dates, Anna couldn&rsquot be happier. As a 30-something with a job she loves, life has turned out better than she dared dream. However, things weren&rsquot always this way, and her years spent as the &lsquoItalian Galleon&rsquo of an East London comprehensive are ones she&rsquod rather forget. So when James Fraser &ndash the architect of Anna&rsquos final humiliation at school &ndash walks back into her life, her world is turned upside down. But James seems a changed man. Polite. Mature. Funny, even. People can change, right? So why does Anna feel like she&rsquos a fool to trust him?&rdquo

33. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

&ldquoWhen Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. The girls move to Elspeth&rsquos flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt&rsquos neighbours, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including&ndashperhaps&ndashtheir aunt, who can&rsquot seem to leave her old apartment and life behind.&rdquo

34. Honour by Elif Shafak

&ldquoPembe follows her Turkish husband, Adem, to London, where they hope to make new lives for themselves and their children. In London, they face a choice: stay loyal to the old traditions or try their best to fit in. After Adem abandons his family, Iskender, the eldest son, must step in and become the one who will not let any shame come to the family name. And when Pembe begins a chaste affair with a man named Elias, Iskender will discover that you could love someone with all your heart and yet be ready to hurt them.&rdquo

&ldquoMichael Dobbs&rsquo entertaining tale of skulduggery and intrigue within the Palace of Westminster has been a huge hit with the public. Its scheming hero, Chief Whip Francis Urquhart, who uses fair means and foul to become Prime Minister, is one of the best-known characters of the last decade &ndash the politician we all love to hate.&rdquo

&ldquoEmma has a job in television which is distinctly less glamourous and exciting than it sounds. She&rsquos managed to claw her way up the ranks from Tea-Maker and Rubbish-Collector to 2nd Assistant Director. So when she finds she&rsquos accidentally very pregnant and at the same time accidentally very sacked, she knows things are going to have to change.&rdquo

&ldquoTala, a London-based Palestinian, is preparing for her elaborate Middle Eastern wedding when she meets Leyla, a young British Indian woman who is dating her best friend. Spirited Christian Tala and shy Muslim Leyla could not be more different from each other, but the attraction is immediate and goes deeper than friendship. As Tala&rsquos wedding day approaches, simmering tensions come to boiling point and the pressure mounts for Tala to be true to herself.&rdquo

&ldquoHome is where the heart is. Right? Angela Clark has fallen in love with America &mdash and it&rsquos starting to love her back. Throw one expired visa into the mix, and things quickly take a turn for the worse. She might love her life as a Brit in New York, but now she has no choice but to return to London. Not only does she leave behind her gorgeous boyfriend Alex &mdash she must also face unfinished business back on home turf. There&rsquos the ex-boyfriend &mdash who she moved to New York to get away from. Then there&rsquos her best friend, with her perfect new baby. And there&rsquos her mum. Now, there&rsquos another wedding in the offing &mdash and everyone remembers how well the last one went &hellip&rdquo

39. King Solomon&rsquos Carpet by Barbara Vine and Ruth Rendell

&ldquoTom Murray is a promising musician reduced to illegal busking in Underground stations and a sad little love affair with his accompanist Alice, who left her husband and newborn baby, taking only her violin. Together with Jasper Darne, another dropout from his family who likes to ride on the tops of Underground carriages, and Jed Lowrie, a Safeguard volunteer who&rsquos left behind his own family to live for his hunting hawk Abelard, they live in a failed schoolhouse&ndashwhose bell tolled for the only time in memory when the headmaster hanged himself from its rope.&rdquo

&ldquoOn a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilisation.&rdquo

41. London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins

&ldquoIt is 1938 and the prospect of war hangs over every London inhabitant. But the city doesn&rsquot stop. Everywhere people continue to work, drink, fall in love, fight and struggle to get on in life. At the lodging-house at No.10 Dulcimer Street, Kennington, the buttoned-up clerk Mr Josser returns home with the clock he has received as a retirement gift. The other residents include faded actress Connie tinned food-loving Mr Puddy widowed landlady Mrs Vizzard (whose head is turned by her new lodger, a self-styled &lsquoProfessor of Spiritualism&rsquo) and flashy young mechanic Percy Boon, whose foray into stolen cars descends into something much, much worse&hellip&rdquo

42. London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

&ldquoMeet Alex, a recent college graduate from Tallahassee, Florida in love with London, pop culture, and comic cons. It&rsquos not easy being twenty-one-years-old, and Alex has never been the most popular girl. She&rsquos an outsider, a geeky fangirl &hellip with dreams of becoming a playwright in a city she&rsquos loved from afar, but never visited. Fleeing America after a devastating betrayal, she believes London is where she&rsquoll be understood, where she belongs. But Alex&rsquos past of panic attacks and broken relationships is hard to escape. When her demons team up with a jealous rival determined to destroy her new British life, Alex begins to question everything: her life-long dream, her new friends, and whether London is where she truly belongs.&rdquo

43. London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning

&ldquoSeventeen-year-old Sunny&rsquos always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she&rsquos sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she&rsquos got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London &ndash starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can&rsquot even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.&rdquo

&ldquoLondon Does Not Belong To Me was written by Lee during his return to Malaya from England by sea in 1954 and was only published posthumously in 2003. It was partly based on his experience as a student in London. The novel has a nameless Chinese protagonist whose love for an Australian woman is unfulfilled. This novel resonates a post-colonial themes and inclinations which echoed in subsequent international anglophone literature.&rdquo

&ldquoEveryone is always out there searching for someone and something, usually for a lover, usually for love. And this is a love story. But the murderee &ndash Nicola Six &ndash is searching for something and someone else: her murderer. She knows the time, she knows the place, she knows the motive, she knows the means. She just doesn&rsquot know the man.&rdquo

&ldquoEdward Rutherford&rsquos classic novel of London, a glorious pageant spanning two thousand years. He brings this vibrant city&rsquos long and noble history alive through the ever-shifting fortunes, fates, and intrigues of half-a-dozen families, from the age of Julius Caesar to the twentieth century.
Generation after generation, these families embody the passion, struggle, wealth, and verve of the greatest city in the world.&rdquo

&ldquoThree hospital outpatients all find that they hear voices &ndash the voices of London&rsquos past. As they explore the city of their present day, they also explore its recent past and its forgotten people. Through the lives of those on the fringe of society, we learn what it is like &ndash and what it has always been like &ndash to live in the great, sprawling, polyphonic, multicoloured capital.&rdquo

48. Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo

&ldquoBarrington Jedidiah Walker is seventy-four and leads a double life. Born and bred in Antigua, he&rsquos lived in Hackney since the sixties. A flamboyant, wise-cracking local character with a dapper taste in retro suits and a fondness for quoting Shakespeare, Barrington is a husband, father and grandfather &ndash but he is also secretly homosexual, lovers with his great childhood friend, Morris. His deeply religious and disappointed wife, Carmel, thinks he sleeps with other women. When their marriage goes into meltdown, Barrington wants to divorce Carmel and live with Morris, but after a lifetime of fear and deception, will he manage to break away?&rdquo

49. Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

&ldquoSociety hostess, Clarissa Dalloway is giving a party. Her thoughts and sensations on that one day, and the interior monologues of others whose lives are interwoven with hers gradually reveal the characters of the central protagonists. Clarissa&rsquos life is touched by tragedy as the events in her day run parallel to those of Septimus Warren Smith, whose madness escalates as his life draws toward inevitable suicide.&rdquo

50. My Best Friend&rsquos Girl by Dorothy Kroomson

&ldquoBest friends Kamryn Matika and Adele Brannon thought nothing could come between them &ndash until Adele did the unthinkable and slept with Kamryn&rsquos fiancé, Nate. Worse still, she got pregnant and had his child. When Kamryn discovered the truth about their betrayal she vowed never to see any of them again. Two years later, Kamryn receives a letter from Adele asking her to visit her in hospital. Adele is dying and begs Kamryn to adopt her daughter, Tegan. With a great job and a hectic social life, the last thing Kamryn needs is a five year old to disrupt things. Especially not one who reminds her of Nate. But with no one else to take care of Tegan and Adele fading fast, does she have any other choice?&rdquo

&ldquoUnder the streets of London there&rsquos a world most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet. Richard Mayhew is a young businessman who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre. There&rsquos a girl named Door, an Angel called Islington, an Earl who holds Court on the carriage of a Tube train, a Beast in a labyrinth, and dangers and delights beyond imagining . . . And Richard, who only wants to go home, is to find a strange destiny waiting for him below the streets of his native city.&rdquo

&ldquoSchoolteacher Barbara Covett has led a solitary life until Sheba Hart, the new art teacher at St. George&rsquos, befriends her. But even as their relationship develops, so too does another: Sheba has begun an illicit affair with an underage male student. When the scandal turns into a media circus, Barbara decides to write an account in her friend&rsquos defence&mdashand ends up revealing not only Sheba&rsquos secrets, but also her own.&rdquo

&ldquoClaire Flannery has quit her job in order to discover her true vocation &ndash only to realize she has no idea how to go about finding it. Whilst everyone around her seems to have their lives entirely under control, Claire finds herself sinking under pressure and wondering where her own fell apart. &lsquoIt&rsquos fine,&rsquo her grandmother says. &lsquoI remember what being your age was like &ndash of course, I had four children under eight then, but modern life is different, you&rsquove got an awful lot on.&rsquo&rdquo

&ldquoThe story of the orphan Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens&rsquos tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters &mdash the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy. Combining elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and popular melodrama, in Oliver Twist Dickens created an entirely new kind of fiction, scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery.&rdquo

55. One Day by David Nicholls

&ldquoIt&rsquos 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day&mdashJuly 15th&mdashof each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.&rdquo

&ldquoOne May evening in London, as a result of a chance encounter and a split-second decision, the young climatologist Adam Kindred loses everything &ndash home, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, money &ndash never to get them back. With the police and a hit man in merciless pursuit, Adam has no choice but to go underground, joining the ranks of the disappeared, struggling to understand how his life has unravelled so spectacularly. His journey of discovery will take him along the Thames from Chelsea to the sink estates of the East End. On the way he encounters aristocrats, priests, prostitutes and a policewoman &ndash but will he ever find himself again?&rdquo

&ldquoFour disparate characters find themselves linked together in Paradise City. Howard Pink is a wildly successful businessman still struggling to cope fifteen years after his nineteen-year-old daughter disappeared. Beatrice Kizza fled persecution from Uganda where homosexuality is illegal. She now works as a maid at a hotel Howard frequents. Esme Reade, an ambitious staff reporter on a Sunday tabloid, is desperate to get the Howard Pink interview for which all London reporters froth at the mouths. Carol Hetherington, a widow who has time to keep an eye on her neighbours&rsquo actions, makes an astonishing discovery.&rdquo

&ldquoEleven-year-old Harrison Opoku, the second best runner in Year 7, races through his new life in England with his personalised trainers &ndash the Adidas stripes drawn on with marker pen &ndash blissfully unaware of the very real threat around him. Newly-arrived from Ghana with his mother and older sister Lydia, Harri absorbs the many strange elements of city life, from the bewildering array of Haribo sweets, to the frightening, fascinating gang of older boys from his school. But his life is changed forever when one of his friends is murdered. As the victim&rsquos nearly new football boots hang in tribute on railings behind fluorescent tape and a police appeal draws only silence, Harri decides to act, unwittingly endangering the fragile web his mother has spun around her family to keep them safe.&rdquo

&ldquoPeter Grant, having become the first English apprentice wizard in fifty years, must immediately deal with two different but ultimately inter-related cases. In one he must find what is possessing ordinary people and turning them into vicious killers, and in the second he must broker a peace between the two warring gods of the River Thames.&rdquo

&ldquoIn the late 1960&rsquos, Adah, a spirited and resourceful woman manages to move her family to London. Seeking an independent life for herself and her children she encounters racism and hard truths about being a new citizen.&rdquo

&ldquo1815. Peter and Paul Skillen, identical twins and fearless thief-takers, stalk all who dare to walk in the shadow of the hangman. When they catch a notorious burglar, they claim a handsome reward and infuriate the Bow Street Runners who believe they have a monopoly on policing in the capital. The Home Secretary, Viscount Sidmouth, faces a crisis. During a massacre of American prisoners of war at Dartmoor, two escape and come to London in search of retribution. If their demands are not met, Sidmouth will be killed. The Skillen brothers are hired to catch the fugitives and must compete with the Runners to bring the villains to justice in a compelling tale of murder, kidnap, revenge, intrigue and political machination.&rdquo

62. Small Island by Andrea Levy

&ldquoHortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer&rsquos daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve.&rdquo

&ldquoTo think Hannah ever believed that Americans differed from Brits mainly in pronunciation, sophistication and dentistry. That&rsquos been the understatement of a lifetime. She lands upon England&rsquos gentle shores with no job, no friends and no idea how she&rsquos supposed to build the life she&rsquos dreaming of. Armed with little more than her enthusiasm, she charges headlong into London, baffling the locals in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself.&rdquo

&ldquoSofia Khan is single once more, after her sort-of-boyfriend proves just a little too close to his parents. And she&rsquod be happy that way too, if her boss hadn&rsquot asked her to write a book about the weird and wonderful world of Muslim dating. Of course, even though she definitely isn&rsquot looking for love, to write the book she does need to do a little research&hellip&rdquo

&ldquoAt his wit&rsquos end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers&mdashone of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain&mdashventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England&rsquos magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain&mdashand the world at large&hellip&rdquo

&ldquoThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of twelve short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, featuring his fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. It was first published on 14 October 1892 the individual stories had been serialised in The Strand Magazine between June 1891 and July 1892.&rdquo

&ldquoThe Ballad of Peckham Rye is a wickedly farcical tale of an English factory town turned upside-down by a Scot who may or may not be in league with the Devil. Dougal Douglas is hired to do &ldquohuman research&rdquo into the lives of the workers, Douglas stirs up mutiny and murder.&rdquo

&ldquoLONDON, 1986: Bequeathed an old portrait by her grandmother, Kate Darling begins to unpick the tapestry of her family&rsquos secret history in a journey that takes her to Corsica, Paris and back to the heady days of the Roaring Twenties where it all began. PARIS, 1939: Alice Eversley and Thomas Stafford meet once again in the City of Light. Tom is now a world-famous artist, Alice is much-changed too &ndash bruised from the events of the last decade. Perhaps they can lose themselves in the love story that ignited by a moonlit lake all those years ago? But sometimes there&rsquos no place for happy endings &ndash and there&rsquos no hiding from the shadow of war &hellip&rdquo

69. The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi

The hero of Hanif Kureishi&rsquos debut novel is dreamy teenager Karim, desperate to escape suburban South London and experience the forbidden fruits which the 1970s seem to offer. When the unlikely opportunity of a life in the theatre announces itself, Karim starts to win the sort of attention he has been craving &ndash albeit with some rude and raucous results.

In The Colour of Memory, six friends plot a nomadic course through their mid-twenties as they scratch out an existence in near-destitute conditions in 1980s South London. They while away their hours drinking cheap beer, landing jobs and quickly squandering them, smoking weed, dodging muggings, listening to Coltrane, finding and losing a facsimile of love, collecting unemployment, and discussing politics in the way of the besotted young&mdashas if they were employed only by the lives they chose.

&ldquoSugar, 19, prostitute in Victorian London, yearns for a better life. From brutal brothel-keeper Mrs Castaway, she ascends in society. Affections of self-involved perfume magnate William Rackham soon smells like love. Her social rise attracts preening socialites, drunken journalists, untrustworthy servants, vile guttersnipes, and whores of all kinds.&rdquo

&ldquoThe love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession.&rdquo

&ldquoRachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She&rsquos even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. &lsquoJess and Jason&rsquo, she calls them. Their life &ndash as she sees it &ndash is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It&rsquos only a minute until the train moves on, but it&rsquos enough. Now everything&rsquos changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she&rsquos only watched from afar. Now they&rsquoll see she&rsquos much more than just the girl on the train&hellip&rdquo

74. The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O&rsquoFarrell

&ldquoWhen the sophisticated Innes Kent turns up on her doorstep, Lexie Sinclair realises she cannot wait any longer for her life to begin, and leaves for London. There, at the heart of the 1950s Soho art scene, she carves out a new life. In the present day, Elina and Ted are reeling from the difficult birth of their first child. Elina struggles to reconcile the demands of motherhood with her sense of herself as an artist, and Ted is disturbed by memories of his own childhood that don&rsquot tally with his parents&rsquo version of events. As Ted begins to search for answers, an extraordinary portrait of two women is revealed, separated by fifty years, but connected in ways that neither could ever have expected.&rdquo

&ldquoBorn into luxury but disinherited and cast out onto the streets of Agra, Pran Nath must become a chameleon. Chasing his fortune, he will travel from the red light district of Bombay to the green lawns of England to the unmapped African wilderness. He will play many different roles &mdash a young prize in a brothel, the adopted son of Scottish missionaries, the impeccably educated young Englishman headed for Oxford &mdash in order to find the role that will finally fit.&rdquo

&ldquoAdam and Rachel are getting married at last. Childhood sweethearts whose lives and families have been intertwined for years theirs is set to be the wedding of the year. But then Rachel&rsquos cousin Ellie makes an unexpected return to the family fold. Beautiful, reckless and troubled, Ellie represents everything that Adam has tried all his life to avoid &ndash and everything that is missing from his world. As the long-awaited wedding approaches, Adam is torn between duty and temptation, security and freedom, and must make a choice that will break either one heart, or many.&rdquo

77. The L Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks

&ldquoSet in the late 1950s, the 27-year-old unmarried Jane Graham arrives alone at a run-down boarding house in London after being turned out of her comfortable middle class home by her shocked father who has learned she is pregnant. Jane narrates the story as we follow her through her pregnancy and her encounters with the other misfits and outsiders who reside at the boarding house.&rdquo

&ldquoIn the hopeful aftermath of war they flocked to the Mother Country&mdashWest Indians in search of a prosperous future in the &lsquoglitter-city&rsquo. Instead, they have to face the harsh realities of living hand to mouth, of racism, of bone-chilling weather and bleak prospects. Yet friendships flourish among these Lonely Londoners and, in time, they learn to survive.&rdquo

&ldquoHarry Starks, club owner, racketeer and porn king, is trying to jump the queue into legitimacy. This swinging sixties novel reveals the seedier side of London where the low life met the high life in the city&rsquos dark underbelly.&rdquo

&ldquoBorn of Indian heritage, raised in the British-dependent Caribbean island of Isabella, and educated in England, forty-year-old Ralph Singh has spent a lifetime struggling against the torment of cultural displacement. Now in exile from his native country, he has taken up residence at a quaint hotel in a London suburb, where he is writing his memoirs in an attempt to impose order on a chaotic existence. His memories lead him to recognize the cultural paradoxes and tainted fantasies of his colonial childhood and later life: his attempts to fit in at school, his short-lived marriage to an ostentatious white woman. But it is the return to Isabella and his subsequent immersion in the roiling political atmosphere of a newly self-governing nation &ndash every kind of racial fantasy taking wing &ndash that ultimately provide Singh with the necessary insight to discover the crux of his disillusionment.&rdquo

&ldquoLouisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him &ndash the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target&hellipunless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.&rdquo

&ldquoIn a London of the future, the drudgery of capitalism and bureaucracy have worn the human spirit down to the point where it can barely stand. When a pint-sized clerk named Auberon Quinn is randomly selected as head of state, he decides to turn London into a medieval carnival for his own amusement. One man, Adam Wayne, takes the new order of things seriously, organizing a Notting Hill army to fight invaders from other neighbourhoods. At first his project baffles everyone, but eventually his dedication proves infectious, with delightful results.&rdquo

&ldquoThis is the story of four Londoners &ndash three women and a young man with a past, drawn with absolute truth and intimacy. Kay, who drove an ambulance during the war and lived life at full throttle, now dresses in mannish clothes and wanders the streets with a restless hunger, searching. Helen, clever, sweet, much-loved, harbours a painful secret. Viv, glamour girl, is stubbornly, even foolishly loyal, to her soldier lover. Duncan, an apparent innocent, has had his own demons to fight during the war. Their lives, and their secrets connect in sometimes startling ways. War leads to strange alliances&hellip&rdquo

84. The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi

&ldquoMaja was five years old when her black Cuban family emigrated from the Caribbean to London, leaving her with one complete memory: a woman singing &ndash in a voice both eerie and enthralling &ndash at their farewell party. Now, almost twenty years later, Maja herself is a singer, pregnant and haunted by what she calls &lsquoher Cuba&rsquo.&rdquo

&ldquo1521. Henry VIII rules over a fashionable court alive with pageant and celebration, the lack of a son his only threat. When young Mary Boleyn arrives at court, she becomes his new mistress, an unwitting pawn in the ambitions of the powerful Boleyn and Howard families. As Henry&rsquos interest begins to wane, the Boleyns scheme to put forward Mary&rsquos sister, Anne. Yet Anne Boleyn, newly returned from the French court, won&rsquot agree to be Henry&rsquos mistress &ndash only his wife. Pitting the king&rsquos desperation for an heir against the advice of his powerful advisors, Wolsey and Cromwell, what follows will change the course of a country&rsquos history.&rdquo

&ldquoAs Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigour while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world.&rdquo

87. The Report by Jessica Francis Kane

&ldquoIt is an early spring evening in 1943 when the air-raid sirens wail out over the East End of London. From every corner of Bethnal Green, people emerge from pubs, cinemas and houses and set off for the shelter of the tube station. But at the entrance steps, something goes badly wrong, the crowd panics, and 173 people are crushed to death. When an enquiry is called for, it falls to the local magistrate, Laurence Dunne, to find out what happened during those few, fatally confused minutes. But as Dunne gathers testimony from the guilt-stricken warden of the shelter, the priest struggling to bring comfort to his congregation, and the grieving mother who has lost her youngest daughter, the picture grows ever murkier. The more questions Dunne asks, the more difficult it becomes to disentangle truth from rumour &ndash and to decide just how much truth the damaged community can actually bear. It is only decades later, when the case is reopened by one of the children who survived, that the facts can finally be brought to light &hellip&rdquo

&ldquoIn the wake of factory closings and his beloved wife&rsquos death, Lev makes his way from Eastern Europe to London, seeking work to support his mother and his little daughter. After a spell of homelessness, he finds a job in the kitchen of a posh restaurant and a room in the house of an appealing Irishman who has already lost his family. Never mind that Lev must sleep in a bunk bed surrounded by plastic toys&ndashhe has found a friend and shelter. However constricted his life in England remains, he compensates by daydreaming of home, by having an affair with a younger restaurant worker, and by trading gossip and ambitions via cell phone with his hilarious friend Rudi, who, dreaming of the wealthy West, lives largely for his battered Chevrolet.&rdquo

&ldquoSet in a modern world filled with both mayhem and miracles, the story begins with a bang: the terrorist bombing of a London-bound jet in midflight. Two Indian actors of opposing sensibilities fall to earth, transformed into living symbols of what is angelic and evil.&rdquo

&ldquoMr Verloc, the secret agent, keeps a shop in London&rsquos Soho where he lives with his wife Winnie, her infirm mother, and her idiot brother, Stevie. When Verloc is reluctantly involved in an anarchist plot to blow up the Greenwich Observatory things go disastrously wrong, and what appears to be &ldquoa simple tale&rdquo proves to involve politicians, policemen, foreign diplomats and London&rsquos fashionable society in the darkest and most surprising interrelations.&rdquo

&ldquoYoung, gay, William Beckwith spends his time, and his trust fund, idly cruising London for erotic encounters. When he saves the life of an elderly man in a public convenience an unlikely job opportunity presents itself &ndash the man, Lord Nantwich, is seeking a biographer. Will agrees to take a look at Nantwich&rsquos diaries. But in the story he unravels, a tragedy of twentieth-century gay repression, lurk bitter truths about Will&rsquos own privileged existence.&rdquo

&ldquoThe Way We Live Now is a scathing satirical novel published in London in 1875 by Anthony Trollope, after a popular serialisation. It was regarded by many of Trollope&rsquos contemporaries as his finest work. One of his longest novels (it contains a hundred chapters), The Way We Live Now is particularly rich in sub-plot. It was inspired by the financial scandals of the early 1870s, and lashes at the pervading dishonesty of the age, commercial, political, moral, and intellectual. It is one of the last significant Victorian novels to have been published in monthly parts.&rdquo

&ldquoIt&rsquos 1940. In a small advertising agency in Soho, London, Catrin Cole writes snappy lines for Vida Elastic and So-Bee-Fee gravy browning. But the nation is in peril, all skills are transferable and there&rsquos a place in the war effort for those who have a knack with words. Catrin is conscripted into the world of propaganda films. After a short spell promoting the joy of swedes for the Ministry of Food, she finds herself writing dialogue for &lsquoJust an Ordinary Wednesday&rsquo, a heart-warming but largely fabricated &lsquotrue story&rsquo about rescue and romance on the beaches of Dunkirk. And as bombs start to fall on London, she discovers that there&rsquos just as much drama, comedy and passion behind the scenes as there is in front of the camera&hellip&rdquo

&ldquoIt is now beyond a doubt that a mole, implanted decades ago by Moscow Centre, has burrowed his way into the highest echelons of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of its most vital operations and its best networks. It is clear that the double agent is one of its own kind. But which one? George Smiley is assigned to identify him. And once identified, the traitor must be destroyed.&rdquo

95. Tunnel Vision by Keith Lowe

&ldquoUntil now Andy&rsquos interest in the London Underground has been relatively harmless. Rachel, his long- suffering fiancée, has long since learnt to put up with it. But on the eve of their wedding, in a fit of last-minute nerves, Andy makes a drunken bet which threatens to ruin everything. His task is to travel to every tube station on the system in a single day. As part of the challenge his passport, his honeymoon tickets and his credit cards have been hidden in various places along the way &ndash he has just 20 hours to find them all and complete his journey or the wedding is off. Tired, hungover, amazed at his own foolishness, he sets out on his journey at 5am with Brian, a drunk he picks up in Morden. He knows he can win his bet, and at first he seems to be making good progress. But then everything starts to go wrong&hellip&rdquo

96. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery

&ldquoVanity Fair follows the fortunes of two contrasting but inter-linked lives: through the retiring Amelia Sedley and the brilliant Becky Sharp, Thackeray examines the position of women in an intensely exploitative male world.&rdquo

&ldquoIn the years following the First World War a new generation emerges, wistful and vulnerable beneath the glitter. The Bright Young Things of twenties&rsquo Mayfair, with their paradoxical mix of innocence and sophistication, exercise their inventive minds and vile bodies in every kind of capricious escapade &ndash whether promiscuity, dancing, cocktail parties or sports cars. In a quest for treasure, a favourite party occupation, a vivid assortment of characters, among them the struggling writer Adam Fenwick-Symes and the glamorous, aristocratic Nina Blount, hunt fast and furiously for ever greater sensations and the fulfilment of unconscious desires.&rdquo

&ldquoGeorgie Sinclair&rsquos life is coming unstuck. Her husband&rsquos left her. Her son&rsquos obsessed with the End of the World. And now her elderly neighbour Mrs Shapiro has decided they are related. Or so the hospital informs her when Mrs Shapiro has an accident and names Georgie next of kin. This, however, is not a case of a quick ward visit: Mrs Shapiro has a large rickety house full of stinky cats that needs looking after and that a pair of estate agents seem intent on swindling from her. Plus there are the &lsquoUselesses&rsquo trying to repair it (uselessly). Then there&rsquos social worker who wants to put her in a nursing home. Not to mention some letters that point to a mysterious, painful past. As Georgie tries her best to put Mrs Shapiro&rsquos life back together somehow she much stop her own from falling apart&hellip&rdquo

99. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

&ldquoOn New Year&rsquos morning, 1975, Archie Jones sits in his car on a London road and waits for the exhaust fumes to fill his Cavalier Musketeer station wagon. Archie&mdashworking-class, ordinary, a failed marriage under his belt&mdashis calling it quits, the deciding factor being the flip of a 20-pence coin. When the owner of a nearby halal butcher shop (annoyed that Archie&rsquos car is blocking his delivery area) comes out and bangs on the window, he gives Archie another chance at life.&rdquo

&ldquoEngland in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?&rdquo

Editor&rsquos Note: 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff removed as it&rsquos nonfiction.


7 Frequently Tested AP® US History Concepts from Period 3: 1754-1800

1. Bill of Rights

After the U.S Constitution had been written and ratified there were many who still feared the strict wording of the document. The document was generous in the power it gave to the federal government but some felt that it granted the federal level too much power. Penned by James Madison, the document attempted to assuage the fears of those who unhappy with a strong, monarch-like centralized government.

The Bill of Rights refers directly to the first ten amendments to the Constitution, guaranteeing things like freedom of speech and religion, but the Bill of Rights ultimately came to represent the fluid nature of the Constitution. Its impact lies in how it was interpreted during many historic Supreme Court cases. In this way, the Bill of Rights will appear most frequently within landmark court cases. A strong understanding of the BoR will help you unpack seminal court cases.

2. Boston Massacre

The truth surrounding the Boston Massacre has been clouded by competing narratives, but we do know Americans of the time considered it to be a first step toward the Revolutionary War. In reality, the event was more of a scuffle between colonist settlers and British soldiers, but the propaganda that rose around it whipped the colonies into a frenzy.

In 1770 Great Britain sent troops to Boston as a means to protect officials trying to administer legislation recently upheld by Parliament. A crowd led by Crispus Attucks, a slave, began to harass British soldiers who fired upon the crowd. Several Americans were killed and the episode was heralded as a turning point where colonial sentiment turned from support of the British crown toward independence. The Boston Massacre commonly pops up on the test in questions involving the road to the Revolution, propaganda, and resistance.

3. Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party was the final straw in a series of events that led to the American Revolution. The event started as a protest of Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, which gave the East India Company a monopoly in selling tea in the colonies. The Sons of Liberty, a liberation-focused rebellion group, saw this as an intentional act to weaken the local, colonial economy and merchant class, and they would not stand for it.

Men of Boston disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians and boarded the East India Company ships that were held in the harbor and began to toss the tea shipment overboard. The Boston Tea Party is often seen on the test in questions surrounding the causes of the Revolutionary War, the philosophy of liberty, and nonviolent resistance.

4. Checks and Balances

One of the most important concepts in the foundation of the American government is checks and balances. Checks and balances is a political framework that separates power into a three-way system, preventing one portion of government from gaining dominance over the other two. The United States government is divided into the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches. Each of these branches is granted a very specific scope of power that the other branches do not.

Also each branch of government is given powers that allow it to keep its counterparts in check. The significance of this model cannot be understated because it was and continues to prevent a seizure of absolute power by a single man or body politic. Understanding checks and balances, then, is essential to fully understanding America’s handling of power, legislation, and executive actions at large.

5. The Constitution

The U.S Constitution is one of the most important documents in United States (and really, global) history. It established the three-branch system that the United States government has come to depend on, and it instituted a Congress comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate. It also granted military power to the President of the United States, and it offered the right of the Supreme Court to interpret law as it applies for every citizen of the United States. Understanding the Constitution is vital to understanding how the US government was not only constructed but also how it operates today.

6. Declaration of Independence

Written by Thomas Jefferson and approved by the Continental Congress in 1776, this seminal document embraced the official formation of a new nation. With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Congress deemed it important to outline their reasoning for breaking from the British throne and forming their own nation.

The body of the document claimed that all men were created equal and guaranteed the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It also outlined the crimes committed by the British throne and denounced Parliament for its treatment of the colonies. By its ratification, the American colonies bound themselves on the path of self-governance and sovereignty. This document appears most frequently on DBQs, questions involving revolution, liberty, and rhetoric.

7. Sons of Liberty

Who were the Sons of Liberty exactly? They were a group of colonists who lived in Colonial America that were unhappy with the practices of the British Crown. They formed in order to defend the colonists from further injustices at the hands of Great Britain and to combat any further taxation they deemed unfair.

Names you might recognize among the ranks of the Sons of Liberty were notable men like Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere. Another famous member was Patrick Henry who spoke the words, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” The Sons of Liberty represent one of the most pivotal groups in carrying out the Revolution.


Religious verse

If few poems can be dated accurately, still fewer can be attributed to particular poets. The most important author from whom a considerable body of work survives is Cynewulf, who wove his runic signature into the epilogues of four poems. Aside from his name, little is known of him he probably lived in the 9th century in Mercia or Northumbria. His works include The Fates of the Apostles, a short martyrology The Ascension (also called Christ II), a homily and biblical narrative Juliana, a saint’s passion set in the reign of the Roman emperor Maximian (late 3rd century ce ) and Elene, perhaps the best of his poems, which describes the mission of St. Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine, to recover Christ’s cross. Cynewulf’s work is lucid and technically elegant his theme is the continuing evangelical mission from the time of Christ to the triumph of Christianity under Constantine. Several poems not by Cynewulf are associated with him because of their subject matter. These include two lives of St. Guthlac and Andreas the latter, the apocryphal story of how St. Andrew fell into the hands of the cannibalistic (and presumably mythical) Mermedonians, has stylistic affinities with Beowulf. Also in the “Cynewulf group” are several poems with Christ as their subject, of which the most important is “ The Dream of the Rood,” in which the cross speaks of itself as Christ’s loyal thane and yet the instrument of his death. This tragic paradox echoes a recurring theme of secular poetry and at the same time movingly expresses the religious paradoxes of Christ’s triumph in death and humankind’s redemption from sin.

Several poems of the Junius Manuscript are based on the Old Testament narratives Genesis, Exodus, and Daniel. Of these, Exodus is remarkable for its intricate diction and bold imagery. The fragmentary Judith of the Beowulf Manuscript stirringly embellishes the story from the Apocrypha of the heroine who led the Jews to victory over the Assyrians.


Did you know …

  • In addition to being the first American writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Lewis was also the first to decline the Pulitzer Prize, which he won in 1926. Lewis objected to the idea that the prize championed everything that was supposedly wholesome in U.S. society, and he also claimed that prizes were corrupting to writers. Some critics, however, suggested that Lewis turned the prize down because he was angry that Babbitt had been snubbed.
  • Despite his harsh criticism of U.S. society and culture, Lewis was much read and admired by a wide audience. His books remained consistently on bestseller lists throughout the 1920s.

The Long Tail of ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’

In the summer of 2018, Putnam published an unusual debut novel by a retired wildlife biologist named Delia Owens. The book, which had an odd title and didn’t fit neatly into any genre, hardly seemed destined to be a blockbuster, so Putnam printed about 28,000 copies.

A year and a half later, the novel, “Where the Crawdads Sing,” an absorbing, atmospheric tale about a lonely girl’s coming-of-age in the marshes of North Carolina, has sold more than four and a half million copies. It’s an astonishing trajectory for any debut novelist, much less for a reclusive, 70-year-old scientist, whose previous published works chronicled the decades she spent in the deserts and valleys of Botswana and Zambia, where she studied hyenas, lions and elephants.

As the end of 2019 approaches, “Crawdads” has sold more print copies than any other adult title this year — fiction or nonfiction — according to NPD BookScan, blowing away the combined print sales of new novels by John Grisham, Margaret Atwood and Stephen King. Putnam has returned to the printers nearly 40 times to feed a seemingly bottomless demand for the book. Foreign rights have sold in 41 countries.

Industry analysts have struggled to explain the novel’s staying power, particularly at a moment when fiction sales over all are flagging, and most blockbuster novels drop off the best-seller list after a few weeks.

For the past several years, adult fiction sales have steadily fallen — in 2019, adult fiction sales through early December totaled around 116 million units, down from nearly 144 million in 2015, according to NPD BookScan. In a tough retail environment for fiction, publishers and agents frequently complain that it has become harder and harder for even established novelists to break through the noise of the news cycle.

“Crawdads” seems to be the lone exception. After a burst of holiday sales, it landed back at No. 1 on The Times’s latest fiction best-seller list, where it has held a spot for 67 weeks, with 30 weeks at No. 1.

“This book has defied the new laws of gravity,” said Peter Hildick-Smith, the president of the Codex Group, which analyzes the book industry. “It’s managed to hold its position in a much more consistent way than just about anything.”

The novel is resonating with a swath of American readers at a moment when mass media are deeply fragmented and algorithm-driven entertainment companies like Netflix and Amazon feed consumers a stream of content tailored to their particular tastes. “Crawdads” instead seems to appeal to a wide demographic of American readers. According to a survey of nearly 4,000 book buyers conducted by the Codex Group, respondents who read “Crawdads” came from across the political spectrum, with 55 percent identifying as progressive, 30 percent as conservative and 15 percent as centrists.

For a book about a girl who is isolated in the wilderness and wrestling with loneliness, “Crawdads” has had an oddly unifying effect in a time of rapid technological advances and constant social media connectivity. And its success has upended Ms. Owens’s own solitary existence. This fall, she went on her fifth tour for the novel, with appearances in Georgia, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Florida and New York, where a talk at the New York Botanical Garden reached capacity, with an additional 100 people signing up for the wait list.

“I have never connected with people the way I have with my readers,” she said in an interview. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Like the movie industry, publishing has become a winner-take-all business, with a handful of blockbusters commanding all the attention and sales, so surprise breakout hits have become increasingly rare. But “Crawdads” had several things going for it. The plot seemed tailored to appeal to a wide audience, with its combination of murder mystery, lush nature writing, romance and a coming-of-age survival story. The novel also got an early boost from independent booksellers, who widely recommended it, and from the actress Reese Witherspoon, who selected “Crawdads” for her book club and plans to produce a feature film adaptation of the novel, and appeared in a bubbly video with Ms. Owens on Instagram this year.

But even those factors fail to fully account for why the book took off as it did, and continues to sell so robustly.

One of the most surprising things about the success of “Crawdads” is that sales began to accelerate months after it came out — an anomaly in publishing, where sales typically peak just after publication, aided by the initial advertising and marketing around a title.

This past January, six months after its release, the novel hit No. 1 on The Times’s fiction best-seller list. That same month, it appeared at the top of Amazon Charts’ Most Sold and Most Read fiction lists, and maintained its dominant position for the next 16 weeks, the longest streak that any book has occupied the top of both Amazon weekly lists. In February, it began selling well at big box stores like Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club. By March it had sold a million copies two months later, it had sold two million.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in 30 years,” said Jaci Updike, president of sales for Penguin Random House, who has overseen strategies for best sellers like “The Da Vinci Code,” “The Girl on the Train” and “Gone Girl.” “This book has broken all the friggin’ rules. We like to have a comparison title so that we can do sales forecasts, but in this case none of the comparisons work.”

The combination of word-of-mouth buzz and the novel’s prominence on the best-seller list set off a self-fulfilling cycle: The book’s visibility drove sales, and sales drove visibility. Merriam-Webster added “crawdad” to its list of the top 10 words of 2019, noting that searches for “crawdad” on its online dictionary spiked by 1,200 percent this year.

“Once it took off, it fed on itself and it’s been remarkably resilient,” said Kristen McLean, the executive director of business development at the NPD Group.

No one seems more caught off guard by the book’s success than Ms. Owens.

“I never really thought I could write a novel,” she said.

Ms. Owens began working on it a decade ago, when she got the idea for a story about a girl who grows up alone in the marshes of North Carolina in the 1950s and ’60s after her family abandons her, and becomes an outcast who is later charged with murdering a young man.

Though the story is invented, Ms. Owens said she drew on her experience living in the wilderness, cut off from society. “It’s about trying to make it in a wild place,” she said.

For most of her life, she lived as far away from people and as close to wild animals as she could get. Growing up in Georgia, Ms. Owens spent most of her free time outside in the woods. Inspired by Jane Goodall, she studied zoology at the University of Georgia and later got her doctorate in animal behavior from the University of California, Davis.

In 1974, she and her husband at the time, Mark Owens, set off to study wildlife in Africa. They set up a research camp in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, where they spent their days closely observing lions and hyenas, studying their migration patterns and social behavior.

The Owenses later became renowned for their foundation’s work in Zambia, where they provided job training, microloans, health care and education to villagers. But they also generated controversy. Mr. Owens, trying to stop poachers from killing elephants and other wildlife, turned their base camp into “the command center for anti-poaching operations” — which Ms. Owens thought was risky, according to her account in their memoir “The Eye of the Elephant.”

In 1995, one of the anti-poaching missions ended in tragedy when a suspected poacher was apparently shot and killed, an incident that Slate reported on this past summer and that The New Yorker wrote about in 2010. Mark and Delia Owens, who weren’t present at the shooting, left the country and haven’t been back since. After returning to the United States in 1996, they settled in northern Idaho, on a secluded 720-acre ranch. Several years ago, after more than 40 years of marriage, they divorced, and this year, Ms. Owens moved to the mountains of North Carolina, near Asheville.

Mr. Owens wasn’t available to comment, according to the Owenses’ friend and former lawyer Bob Ivey, who confirmed that there were never any charges filed and that there haven’t been any recent developments in the case.

Ms. Owens said she had nothing to do with the shooting and was never accused of wrongdoing but declined to elaborate on the circumstances.

“I was not involved,” she added. “There was never a case, there was nothing.”

She brought the conversation back to her novel and likened her experience to the ordeals faced by her fictional heroine Kya Clark, who is subjected to vicious rumors and ostracized.

“It’s painful to have that come up, but it’s what Kya had to deal with, name calling,” Ms. Owens said during an interview in New York this fall. “You just have to put your head up or down, or whichever, you have to keep going and be strong. I’ve been charged by elephants before.”

Later that evening, Ms. Owens, who still seems unaccustomed to the spotlight, invoked charging elephants again, when she took the stage at the Botanical Garden and faced a crowd of more than 400 people. Looking slightly unsettled, Ms. Owens compared the experience of addressing the audience to the adrenaline rush she felt many years before when, in an effort to escape an elephant that was rushing at her, she jumped into a crocodile-infested river.

“I’ve lived in remote settings for most of my life,” she told the crowd. “There are more people in this room than I would see in six months.”


Suggested Research Topics

  • Identify the impact of movies on the public as a means of escape from the economic depression existing in the country during the 1930s. How did the "movie palaces" create exotic atmospheres for the fantasies of films? What was the role of the Marx Brothers in Hollywood in the 1930s? [Chico Marx (1886–1961), Harpo Marx (1888–1964), Groucho Marx (1890–1977), Gummo Marx (1893–1977), and Zeppo Marx (1901–1979)]
  • Discuss the technological developments in photography, animation, sound, and color that enabled the movie industry to develop and grow despite the economic hard times of the Depression.
  • Describe the economic impact that the movie industry had in the 1930s when the majority of businesses were struggling to stay afloat.
  • Assess the role of movie stars and development of American popular culture shaped by films in the 1930s. Even when most "Westerns" were B-Movies, why were they so popular and sources of stardom for cowboy actors? How were African Americans portrayed in Gone With the Wind, the Little Colonel, and other popular films of the 1930s? How were Will Hays and the "Production Code" important to the direction Hollywood films took in the 1930s?

The Emmet’s Inch: Small History in a Digital Age

Digitization has usually been considered a facilitator of what has been called “big” history. While digital history projects increasingly make good and sensitive use of individual and granular records and use them to bring human complexity into a larger analysis, the digitization of published material and archives have mostly been discussed by historians in aggregate: they are valued chiefly for their ability to give us “big data” about phenomena in the past. Yet for those interested in questions and methodologies of microhistory, biographical history, history from below, and other kinds of what we might call “small” history, the digitization of archives and individual records is an equally transformative development. This article will examine the way that digitization has changed how historians discover, concatenate, and communicate small stories in their narratives and arguments. I will consider the practice and the ethics of telling and digitizing individual histories, and I will suggest some different ways of dealing with the new boundaries—and boundlessness—that the “mass digitized turn” throws up, particularly for historians working in the period after 1800. Finally, amidst an increased emphasis on digitization and big data in the field of history, I want to assert the continuing power of all kinds of small histories to explain the past and to connect it to our present, and ourselves.