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London    by Louise Nicholson & Richard Turpin order for
by Louise Nicholson
Order:  USA  Can
Frances Lincoln, 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

An old friend of mine, herself a Londoner, once told me that she treated the city like a series of villages. Louise Nicholson's London takes a similar approach, exploring the great city neighborhood by neighborhood, and revealing its layers of history, antiquities and modern wonders to us via Richard Turpin's splendid photographs. At the back of the book are a detailed map and a chronology of the city.

Nicholson starts with a brief history of Britain's longest river, the Thames, which we are told twists and turns through London for twenty miles, and once was the city's main highway. From there, we're led to the Docklands and the East End of London, with a page of traditional street signs, including a cat with a fiddle, and a grasshopper. We see St. Paul's, 18th century streets of Spitalfields, and the Sunday market of Petticoat Lane, before continuing on to the 'Seat of Power' in Westminster. Next, come sites of 'Law, Learning and Entertainment' such as Fleet Street, Covent Garden, and Leicester Square.

Moving up through society's hierarchy, we arrive at St. James, Mayfair, and the aristocratic Grosvenor Square. Then on to the the 'Prince Regent's London', transformed by the architectural vision of John Nash. This is followed by the parks and museums of West London (there's a lovely photo of a Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens), and the 'Embassy Heartland'. Pub signs are featured in the section on 'North London Villages'. There are palaces and parks in Hampton Court and Richmond, and lovely photos of sunrises and sunsets on the South Bank.

London gives a panoramic picture of the city, moving between its neighborhoods and melding ghosts of past pageantry with snippets of history, literary quotes, and information on modern life and industry. If you're an Anglophile, have visited London, or plan to spend time in that bustling city, then you'll enjoy this beautiful and very informative volume.

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