March 31, 2020
Sacred Reads: London Belongs to Me, Norman Collins
London Belongs to Me was written by Norman Collins who, in addition to writing 16 novels and two plays, created the first daily radio serial, Dick Barton, and later became the controller of the BBC. Set in South London between 23 December 1938 and the height of the Blitz in Christmas 1940, it follows the lives of the inhabitants of a south London boarding house and is packed with memorable period detail - a world of séances, bizarre political societies and smoky Mayfair clubs waiting for the next police raid. Despite the difficulties the characters inevitably face - loved ones are called up, bombs drop - the tone is brisk, shot with a wry humour that makes it hugely entertaining. It's also a nice fat book, giving the reader plenty of time to escape a little from the current circumstances and wallow in Collins' very convincing fictional world - in which gin plays a small but pivotal role.