#Blogtour This Lovely City by Louise Hare @LouRHare @HQstories #ThisLovelyCity

This Lovely City by Louise Hare
HQ Stories

The drinks are flowing.
The music is playing.
But the party can’t last.

With the Blitz over and London reeling from war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Fresh off the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door.

Touring Soho’s music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home – and it’s alive with possibility. Until, one morning, he makes a terrible discovery.

As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And, before long, the newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart.

Atmospheric, poignant and compelling, Louise Hare’s debut shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects. But, also, that there is always hope

My Review

Post war, post blitz London, homes still lay in ruins, it’s inhabitants attempting to rebuild their lives. The Government, in its infinite wisdom decided to invite members of the Jamaican population to make their home in England, to rebuild their cities and enjoy its perceived richness.

But is that what really happened? Did they find a better life and more importantly how were they received.

Hare’s novel This Lovely City went a long way to answer those questions and what a way she did it.

She gave us the most wonderful characters in Lawrie and Evie, both young and in love, their whole future ahead of them.

Evie, intelligent, bubbly, forever felt she had to pay for being her mother’s mistake in an era where a child outside marriage was frowned upon.

Lawrie, the new arrival, a talented clarinet player, hardworking postman, had to work that extra bit harder to justify his place in society. His wrong time, wrong place kicked off actions and events that in today’s modern world would be frowned upon.

You will find yourself getting angry, frustrated as Lawrie had to fight against ignorance, racism and brutality all because he was black. What you had to bear in mind as you read was that this was the 1950’s, Jamaican immigrants were seen as a problem, people who took the jobs of the white, their culture alien, viewed with suspicion. Hare didn’t leave anything out, but it was always measured and balanced, tempered with those who accepted and embraced them.

It wasn’t just about race, it was also about perception, what was seen as acceptable, right or wrong. Women seen as outcasts if they dared to get pregnant out of wedlock, to be free in their associations with men and even women. There was the accepted abuse of women by men, the husband who ruled the household, who had the last say.

Hare did all this so cleverly and wonderfully, that you could feel the tension, the anger, the frustration the characters experienced. Their struggle with wider society but also their beliefs, their own struggles came across so clearly that you couldn’t help but feel huge empathy, to become involved in their lives.

The story itself propelled the characters on a collision course, the outcome unknown until the last shocking revelation.

Did Lawrie and Evie find their happy after, survive the taboos of 1950’s society, or did they find themselves torn apart, cast adrift in a sea of change?

I almost want Hare to write a sequel, to meet them once again, to follow their onward journey!

There will be no spoilers from me, only encouragement to read This Lovely City for yourself and immerse yourself in 1950’s London, both the good and the bad. You will not be disappointed.

I would like to thank HQ Stories for a copy of This Lovely City to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Louise Hare is a London based author. Her debut novel This Lovely City is due to be published by HQ (Harper Collins) on March 12th 2020 and House of Anansi (N. America) on April 7th 2020. She has an MA in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Birkbeck, University of London.

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