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An atmospheric and utterly compelling debut novel about a Jamaican immigrant living in postwar London, This Lovely City shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects ― but that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope. London, 1950. With the war over and London still rebuilding, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for labo An atmospheric and utterly compelling debut novel about a Jamaican immigrant living in postwar London, This Lovely City shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects ― but that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope. London, 1950. With the war over and London still rebuilding, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for labour. Arriving from Jamaica aboard the Empire Windrush, he’s rented a tiny room in south London and fallen in love with the girl next door. Playing in Soho’s jazz clubs by night and 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, while crossing a misty common, he makes a terrible discovery. As the local community rallies, fingers of blame point at those who were recently welcomed with open arms. And before long, London’s newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy that threatens to tear the city apart. Immersive, poignant, and utterly compelling, Louise Hare’s debut examines the complexities of love and belonging, and teaches us that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope.


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An atmospheric and utterly compelling debut novel about a Jamaican immigrant living in postwar London, This Lovely City shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects ― but that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope. London, 1950. With the war over and London still rebuilding, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for labo An atmospheric and utterly compelling debut novel about a Jamaican immigrant living in postwar London, This Lovely City shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects ― but that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope. London, 1950. With the war over and London still rebuilding, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for labour. Arriving from Jamaica aboard the Empire Windrush, he’s rented a tiny room in south London and fallen in love with the girl next door. Playing in Soho’s jazz clubs by night and 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, while crossing a misty common, he makes a terrible discovery. As the local community rallies, fingers of blame point at those who were recently welcomed with open arms. And before long, London’s newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy that threatens to tear the city apart. Immersive, poignant, and utterly compelling, Louise Hare’s debut examines the complexities of love and belonging, and teaches us that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope.

30 review for This Lovely City: the most inspiring and hopeful historical fiction novel of 2021, and a BBC Two Between the Covers book club pick

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    ‘This Lovely City ‘ follows a group of Windrush immigrants, recently arrived in the UK from Jamaica. In particular, it follows the lives of Lawrie Matthews and his friends in 1948 and 1950. Though this story is fictional, the so called Windrush immigrants were in reality brought over from the Caribbean by the British government, to cover severe labour shortages in the UK, in the wake of the Second World War. They were here to seek their fortunes, but as soon as most would be employers saw the co ‘This Lovely City ‘ follows a group of Windrush immigrants, recently arrived in the UK from Jamaica. In particular, it follows the lives of Lawrie Matthews and his friends in 1948 and 1950. Though this story is fictional, the so called Windrush immigrants were in reality brought over from the Caribbean by the British government, to cover severe labour shortages in the UK, in the wake of the Second World War. They were here to seek their fortunes, but as soon as most would be employers saw the colour of their skin, the job was no longer available, and the immigrants soon discovered that they weren’t going to be welcomed with open arms, indeed they were looked on with a great deal of suspicion, and suffered open racism. In one way, Lawrie is one of the lucky ones, he manages to get himself a job as a postman, and he makes a little extra cash at night playing his clarinet in Soho’s nightclubs along with his friends. He even gets himself a girlfriend, Evie, and things are really looking up. Luck however soon turns to misfortune when he comes across a terrible discovery on Clapham Common, and from there on in, his life is on a downward spiral. I loved Lawrie’s character - his good old fashioned values made me warm to him instantly. I loved the social history, the descriptions of the post war jazz era in the smoky nightclubs of Soho, the food during this time of rationing, and the culture both in relation to Britain, and the Caribbean. Louise Hare has written a beautiful novel, best described as a murder mystery, but it’s so much more than that - she’s conjured up post war austerity in Britain perfectly, rich in its detail, with the many bombed out derelict homes, and rationing for food, clothing and fuel, to name but a few things, still very much in place. This debut novel is an absolute gem, and I seriously think it will be a best seller! * Thank you to Netgalley and HQ for my ARC. I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange *

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    It is 1950 and a worn torn Britain is lacking in able bodied men. Answering this call the Windrush docks with a new labor force. Problem is, that many consider them the wrong color and are not willing to openly accept them. When a body of a toddler of mixed race is found in the river, these men of color are the first to be questioned. Although the death of the child and the who done it gives it the air of mystery, this book is so much more. It is about prejudice and the effort it takes to be acce It is 1950 and a worn torn Britain is lacking in able bodied men. Answering this call the Windrush docks with a new labor force. Problem is, that many consider them the wrong color and are not willing to openly accept them. When a body of a toddler of mixed race is found in the river, these men of color are the first to be questioned. Although the death of the child and the who done it gives it the air of mystery, this book is so much more. It is about prejudice and the effort it takes to be accepted, in some cases to never be accepted. It is also a love story between a mixed race girl and a young man from the Windrush. The plot is a long, unwinding of lives lived before and the lives to come. It is as much historical as it is suspense. It shows how easy it is to accuse without anything to back it up just because one is different. Easy to ruin lives with just an accusation. Even though this is set in the past, this is something that happens everyday. And unfortunately, will be unchanged in the future.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Whispering Stories

    Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com In 1948 to help with postwar Britain due to lots of buildings being destroyed and jobs needing filling, the UK advertised for people in the Caribbean to come to live here. The Empire Windrush arrived on the 22nd June 1948 carrying mainly young men. Lawrie Matthews was one of these men hoping for a new start in the UK, the land he had heard so much about. However, the people of the UK weren’t quite so welcoming as they had all been lead to believe. This wa Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com In 1948 to help with postwar Britain due to lots of buildings being destroyed and jobs needing filling, the UK advertised for people in the Caribbean to come to live here. The Empire Windrush arrived on the 22nd June 1948 carrying mainly young men. Lawrie Matthews was one of these men hoping for a new start in the UK, the land he had heard so much about. However, the people of the UK weren’t quite so welcoming as they had all been lead to believe. This was a nation of people that didn’t welcome change, especially if that change came with a brown body. Racism was rife. Having gotten himself a job as a jazz musician of a night-time, a postal worker during the day and a young lady, Evie, he was smitten with, Lawrie had hoped that people had come to accept him. Then he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as a woman noticed something in the pond of the local park and asked Lawrie for help. What Lawrie pulled out of the pond would haunt him forever and also make him the prime suspect for murder. A baby wrapped in an embroidered blanket no older than 9/10 months was dead. She was also a child of colour and the fingers of the local people and the police began to point. This Lovely City is a very poignant fictionalised novel about the arrival of the people from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush focusing mainly on just one immigrant, Lawrie. These were people who left their beautiful Caribbean islands behind to come to the UK to help build Britain back up after the second world war and to fill jobs that had become vacant through casualties of the war. We invited these people here and then treated them like they were worth nothing. The book did have me feeling enraged at what Lawrie was having to go through all because of the colour of his skin. He helped a woman out who noticed something in the water and whilst she was sent on her way being cleared of any wrongdoing Lawrie was taken to the police station and questioned and made to feel like he was guilty of a crime he hadn’t committed just because of the colour of his skin. The book moves back and forth between 1948 and the boat’s first arrival in the UK and then 1950 where the main section plays out. There are letters and newspaper articles within the pages too. There are some amazing characters, not only Lawrie and Evie but characters such as Derek who is a bit of a rascal, Mrs. Ryan who was Lawrie’s landlady and Arthur with his wise words. I absolutely adored this book. It is beautifully written, embraces 1950’s Britain vividly, both it’s good and bad sides and was very touching. It is one of those books where you think that you will read just one more chapter and then an hour passes by and you still haven’t put it down. I can see Ms. Hare being an author to watch out for in the future if this debut novel is anything to go by as she can certainly write with passion.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Bannister

    Actual rating 3.5 ⭐️ I liked the story and in particular the Windrush aspect and how people were treated, which as we know was appalling. But I had a few niggles along the way with how the characters reacted to each other.... Having said that, it was an enjoyable, very readable first book and I would definitely read another by this new author.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Haley Renee The Caffeinated Reader

    https://thecaffeinatedreader.com/2020... 4.5/5 I went into this thinking it looked like a fun lighthearted read, instead it was full of love, heartache and completely captured my heart. After the population was depleted from the tragic losses of WWII, Britain opened its arms to those who claimed it to be ‘the motherland’ at the time, many men leaving their homes in the Caribbean leaving to try their fortune in England. England, after all, needed the manpower to fill the jobs that were left open. Th https://thecaffeinatedreader.com/2020... 4.5/5 I went into this thinking it looked like a fun lighthearted read, instead it was full of love, heartache and completely captured my heart. After the population was depleted from the tragic losses of WWII, Britain opened its arms to those who claimed it to be ‘the motherland’ at the time, many men leaving their homes in the Caribbean leaving to try their fortune in England. England, after all, needed the manpower to fill the jobs that were left open. Thinking they were being offered a new home, the men were cautiously hopeful, they were needed. Unfortunately, England wasn’t as welcoming as it should have been. This is the story of not just one man, but the community around him and the country he and others are trying to make their home, and what happens when tragedy strikes. The writing style is full of life and the pacing makes it to where you never want to put it down. It was a vividly written world built on history and harsh truths we sometimes like to cover up but at the end of the day, there was love and hope. Fantastic read, four and a half cups of coffee and I now want to keep my eye on Louise Hare. Thank you to HQ for a copy of this in exchange for my honest review as part of the blog tour.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karen Flockhart

    Social history, murder mystery, love story, historical novel - it would be difficult to pigeonhole this brilliant story! Lawrie, fairly recently arrived in London from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush, discovers something terrible one morning that shakes the life he's been building for himself in the city. It ultimately send shock waves through the lives of everyone around him: housemates, neighbours, colleagues and friends. This Lovely City is a complete page-turner, full of a fantastic cas Social history, murder mystery, love story, historical novel - it would be difficult to pigeonhole this brilliant story! Lawrie, fairly recently arrived in London from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush, discovers something terrible one morning that shakes the life he's been building for himself in the city. It ultimately send shock waves through the lives of everyone around him: housemates, neighbours, colleagues and friends. This Lovely City is a complete page-turner, full of a fantastic cast of characters including London itself. I was super stoked to get an advance copy of this wonderful book which was an absolute pleasure to read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This Lovely City by Louise Hare is a marvellous historical murder mystery. It is a fabulous debut novel set between 1948 and 1950. The war is over. Britain needs rebuilding but hasn’t the population to do it so an invite is issued to Jamaican men to come over and start a glorious new life… but the reality is very different. “It didn’t matter what his passport said. A man with a black skin could never be considered British.” The Windrush men find that that they were lied to, racial prejudice is ri This Lovely City by Louise Hare is a marvellous historical murder mystery. It is a fabulous debut novel set between 1948 and 1950. The war is over. Britain needs rebuilding but hasn’t the population to do it so an invite is issued to Jamaican men to come over and start a glorious new life… but the reality is very different. “It didn’t matter what his passport said. A man with a black skin could never be considered British.” The Windrush men find that that they were lied to, racial prejudice is rife. “People looked and decided what he was without knowing a single thing about him.” There were terrible crimes committed against the men even from those in authority. Men were judged as guilty merely on the colour of their skin. It is horrifying to witness for the modern reader. These men were helping to rebuild Britain and yet they were judged and assaulted for the crime of being black. Mixed race relationships did occur but they were frowned upon and any children were judged too. It was a terrible, shameful time. Unmarried mothers were also looked down on and shipped off to the countryside to give birth and then forced to give babies up for adoption. They were seen as bringing shame to their families. It was awful for those poor women and babies. There are some kind hearts within the novel who help where they can, seeing the goodness in others and not the colour of their skin. This Lovely City introduces the reader to post war Britain. It should be a time of freedom but there is prejudice, poverty and rationing continues. Louise Hare is a talented new author who elicits feelings from the reader as we travel through her book. She has captured the atmosphere of the time. I am looking forward to much more by her. I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bookread2day

    My review on my website. www.bookread2day.wordpress.com. [email protected] I simply am stunned that This Lovely City is Louise Hare’s first novel. I hope TV rights snap up this book and turn it into a film. Immersive, poignant, and utterly compelling, Louise Hare’s debut examines the complexities of love and belonging, and teaches us that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope. Simply one of the best books combined with after the war and Empire Windrush, and a nightmare mystery My review on my website. www.bookread2day.wordpress.com. [email protected] I simply am stunned that This Lovely City is Louise Hare’s first novel. I hope TV rights snap up this book and turn it into a film. Immersive, poignant, and utterly compelling, Louise Hare’s debut examines the complexities of love and belonging, and teaches us that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope. Simply one of the best books combined with after the war and Empire Windrush, and a nightmare mystery dreadful discovery. In 1948, men, women and children, from Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean, land in Tilbury in Essex.After the war, Empire Windrush, arrived at the Thames. The majority of the passengers were men of working age. A number of new rivals were bused to the Clapham area. Lawrie Matthews who by night played Jaz at a clubs and by day he worked as a postman. He is in love with Evie the girl next door to him. When Lawrie was cycling during his postman delivery job at Clapham Common, he came to help a woman who’s terrier was soaked from the pond barking urgently at him. There was something in the pond. Lawrie carried out a dirty blanket finding a dead baby with dark curly hair. It’s dreadful in the way that Detective Sergeant Rathbone treated Lawrie trying to pinpoint the dead baby’s muder on him. Lawrie knew that the baby had to have at least one black parent and Lawrie only knew there were only so many black people around and a few women whose skin was dark enough. The police widen their investigation to question other people. Lots of more storytelling is Waiting for you all to sit back and enjoy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marie (UK)

    I received an ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review. This is a well written book about the early experiences of the Windrush immigrants set into a fictional narrative. This has a storyline which draws you in and good characterisation although the police leave much to be desired. I enjoyed it . as the blurb says a charming rood. Great for a rainy day but I am not sure that it deserves the ratings it is getting. Certainly the mystery of what happened to the baby is very predictable.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Tebb

    Sadly didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Enjoyable but not memorable. My absolute favourite time period to read stories about but found this lacking in something. Not entirely sure what but I wasn’t gripped by it and found myself putting it down a lot. I wanted more, more London, more jazz, more character depth. Didn’t go far enough for me. Would have loved more just on Lawrie’s character alone.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anika | Chapters of May

    This Lovely City is a spirited and kinetic historical tale with a meaningful insight into the Windrush generation. As the blurb says, it “teaches us that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope.” Lawrie is a Jamaican man, is fresh off the Empire Windrush, answering London’s call to help labour shortages. Lawrie expected to be welcomed with open arms and valued for his hard work, but quickly realised reality is far from what was promised. Still, he falls for Evie, a biracial girl This Lovely City is a spirited and kinetic historical tale with a meaningful insight into the Windrush generation. As the blurb says, it “teaches us that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope.” Lawrie is a Jamaican man, is fresh off the Empire Windrush, answering London’s call to help labour shortages. Lawrie expected to be welcomed with open arms and valued for his hard work, but quickly realised reality is far from what was promised. Still, he falls for Evie, a biracial girl who is finally among a community that makes her feel as though she belongs. Along with his friends, Aston, Sonny, and Moses, Lawrie find relief in music and jazz bars, as they navigate a racially tense city and search for a future of prosperity. But when a devastating discovery is made at Clapham Common, fingers point to the local Caribbean community, and more specifically to Lawrie. It’s fascinating how Hare portrays the way Lawrie faces societal racism as he works as a postman by day and a musician by night. I also love the post-war, South London atmosphere she built from the beginning of the book. There’s vivid detailing of the actualities of bomb-ruined homes, changing neighbourhoods and rationing for necessities during 1948 and 1950. It feels deeply authentic, and very easy to picture. I really struggled to stomach some of the prejudice aggressions and phrases used towards the Black characters in the book, but sadly, it’s accurate. And Hare doesn't hold back from displaying the truths of hatred and violence in post-war Britain. The characters of Evie and Lawrie make brilliant narrators for this book. Its chapters alternate between their POVs, as their young love blooms against the odds. I listened to the audiobook, and the use of Jamaican accents for Caribbean characters and jazz music between the chapters brought this book to life. The love between the two characters is an interesting backdrop to their own identity struggles, financial challenges, and other shortcomings. It inspires hope, and you can’t help but root for them. I really like the way the murder mystery narrative was laced with prejudices in British society just after the war and Lawrie and Evie’s hopeful love story. The pace was occasionally too slow for me, and some chapters felt too long. However, it’s both grounding and stirring, and filled with emotion. On the whole, This Lovely City is a stellar debut. For more book reviews and posts, check out my blog or follow along on Instagram 📚✨

  12. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Visit the locations in This Lovely City A fascinating read about the Windrush generation who come to London after the war. In search of a new life, they encounter poverty racism and more. This is a very timely read given the fact that the Windrush scandal has been in the news recently. The story follows Lawrie who moves from Jamaica. He works as a postman and at night, the world of jazz and music come alive as we follow his time as an newly arrived immigrant. The new life takes some adjustment too Visit the locations in This Lovely City A fascinating read about the Windrush generation who come to London after the war. In search of a new life, they encounter poverty racism and more. This is a very timely read given the fact that the Windrush scandal has been in the news recently. The story follows Lawrie who moves from Jamaica. He works as a postman and at night, the world of jazz and music come alive as we follow his time as an newly arrived immigrant. The new life takes some adjustment too but he copes well – it’s everyone else who seems to have a problem with ‘people like him’. There’s another thread at the same time about a young mixed race woman who has been born and brought up in London by her white mother. With overtones of multiculturalism, racism and human endurance, this is one powerful read. This is a different time to now: we are in the 1940s in the novel, but in many ways it’s very similar. That is the sad thing. You could take the Windrush references and the references to music, politics etc and this could easily be a story in the modern day. Prejudice and discrimination have lingered throughout time and this is the sad realisation of the novel. How we treated people who were granted the chance to start afresh. There’s one incident in the book in particular where an event tests the characters to the limit. This was very revealing in how the public and police treated ‘outsiders’. The book felt very sadly real at this point and I stopped reading. It made me think. Having said that, this is also a novel of hope, human endurance and there’s quite a bit of humour here too. There’s a wonderful cast of characters who just jump from the page. And for a music/jazz lover like me, this was a cool chance to experience post-war London and the music which came from the Caribbean. I am still tapping my toes to it. Recommended. I think this will provide a lot of discussion at bookclubs!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tripfiction

    Novel set in 1948/50 LONDON Catch our review on You Tube: https://youtu.be/LHEtT3Ugv5Y This delightfully penned novel will transport you back to a post war London. The author was inspired to write this book after she had visited a deep-level shelter and uses it as early accommodation for Lawrie. Lawrie is a young man who has come over with others from Jamaica. He is part of the Windrush generation, of whom we have recently heard a good deal. In 1950 he is courting his neighbour Evie in Clapham and Novel set in 1948/50 LONDON Catch our review on You Tube: https://youtu.be/LHEtT3Ugv5Y This delightfully penned novel will transport you back to a post war London. The author was inspired to write this book after she had visited a deep-level shelter and uses it as early accommodation for Lawrie. Lawrie is a young man who has come over with others from Jamaica. He is part of the Windrush generation, of whom we have recently heard a good deal. In 1950 he is courting his neighbour Evie in Clapham and things are going well until he happens to find the body of a small child, floating in a local lake, a young girl dubbed Ophelia. She is clearly of mixed heritage. The police are eager to pin the death on someone and why not the person who found her?! The incompetence and racism of the police threatens to destabilise what he has with Evie. Evie herself has secrets that in turn could send Lawrie running for the hills. At the heart of the story of course is the mystery surround the little girl’s body. Who is she and who might her parents be? More than that this is a narrative of post war London, a city where rationing is still a thing, where people are trying to regain their places in the world. There is the thrum of music in the background as Lawrie earns an extra few bob performing as part of a band at places like the Lyceum. This novel certainly has atmosphere. I occasionally had to do a double take on which year the particular chapter was set – it is a slightly unusual construct, jumping back and forth between the years 1948 and 1950 (which are very close together) but once I understood the pattern, I soon got into the swing of the style. The author has a terrific writing style and I am looking forward to her next novel!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margo

    I didn't get to finish this because my library loan expired. It was a perfectly decent story set in 1960s London, following the Windrush generation and their experiences with a bit of a mystery thrown in. I got about half way through before it had to go back. The reason I was slow with it was that I didn't care for one of the voice actors. The male part was read very well by Theo Solomon but the female narrator, Karise Yansen, sounded very stilted and unconvincing. It was a shame because it made I didn't get to finish this because my library loan expired. It was a perfectly decent story set in 1960s London, following the Windrush generation and their experiences with a bit of a mystery thrown in. I got about half way through before it had to go back. The reason I was slow with it was that I didn't care for one of the voice actors. The male part was read very well by Theo Solomon but the female narrator, Karise Yansen, sounded very stilted and unconvincing. It was a shame because it made me dread picking up the book again. It was made more noticeable by the obvious skill of the Theo who was a pleasure to listen to but I found I was loosing concentrate during the other parts and ended up not knowing what was going on.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Overall - 2.6/5 Story - 3/5 Writing - 3/5 Character - 2/5 Memorability - 2/5 Enjoyment - 3/5 Would I read again? No A slightly lacklustre tale of 1950s London and the newly arrived Windrush generation. There just wasn't enough of anything in here. Not enough London, not enough Jazz, not enough focus. I could have done with more character development as I didn't find a couple of the characters actions very believable. I'm also not a fan of baddies having 'ugly' physical traits. Overall - 2.6/5 Story - 3/5 Writing - 3/5 Character - 2/5 Memorability - 2/5 Enjoyment - 3/5 Would I read again? No A slightly lacklustre tale of 1950s London and the newly arrived Windrush generation. There just wasn't enough of anything in here. Not enough London, not enough Jazz, not enough focus. I could have done with more character development as I didn't find a couple of the characters actions very believable. I'm also not a fan of baddies having 'ugly' physical traits.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Park

    This Lovely Life is a fascinating look into postwar London which manages to be both poignant and hopeful at the same time. Firstly the author does a great job of setting the scene in this book and I felt completely transported to postwar London. As you could well imagine the atmosphere at the time was quite unsettled, tense and suspicious after so many years or fear which is vividly described in the book. I haven’t read much about this period so found all the historical details very interesting e This Lovely Life is a fascinating look into postwar London which manages to be both poignant and hopeful at the same time. Firstly the author does a great job of setting the scene in this book and I felt completely transported to postwar London. As you could well imagine the atmosphere at the time was quite unsettled, tense and suspicious after so many years or fear which is vividly described in the book. I haven’t read much about this period so found all the historical details very interesting especially learning more about the windrush generation and their experiences here. The shabbiness of London is contrasted well with the fun and hopefulness of the time too which helped bring some light moments in an otherwise sad book. There are some fantastic characters in this book who I enjoyed getting to know. Lawrie was definitely my favourite character and I loved how positive he tries to be even when faced with daily discrimination. DI Rathbone on the other hand- ooh how I hated him! He’s such a nasty, cruel and racist man that I wished I could have reached into the book to give him the slap he really deserved. I felt my blood rise with indignation for Lawrie as he was so horrible to him! This is a book that is great to get lost in as there is always something going on to keep the reader absorbed in the story. There are some twists that took me by surprise but ultimately this is a story of joy and hope in a bleak time which was brilliantly written. I think this would make a great book club read as there would be lots to discuss. Huge thanks to Joe Thomas for inviting me onto the blog tour and for my copy of this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    V_Nerdbooks

    This is a fabulous murder mystery set in post war Britain. 1948, the war is finally over and bombed out Britain is set to rebuild, but to that they need people in London after so many were lost in the war, so the government send an invitation to its colonies asking for workers, in exchange for their help, these lucky people will be helped with accommodation and be part of something amazing! Except, it doesn't quite work out like that. Jazz musician Lawrie Matthews travels from Jamaica to the UK alo This is a fabulous murder mystery set in post war Britain. 1948, the war is finally over and bombed out Britain is set to rebuild, but to that they need people in London after so many were lost in the war, so the government send an invitation to its colonies asking for workers, in exchange for their help, these lucky people will be helped with accommodation and be part of something amazing! Except, it doesn't quite work out like that. Jazz musician Lawrie Matthews travels from Jamaica to the UK along with hundreds of other people on the Empire Windrush, thinking that his life was going to start, there was going to be so many different things for him to do, jobs for him to choose, friends for him to make, he was a British citizen now, and people were going to love him. Unfortunately, when the ship arrives, it seems that London wasn't ready at all for the people that they had invited, and had done very little to accommodate them, on arrival they are escorted to an old bomb shelter and told this is where they will be staying until further accommodation was provided! After eventually being housed, Lawrie gets a job as a Postman, and falls in love with a girl called Evie, who is a neighbour. Lawrie loves his job, and in the evenings he plays in a Jazz band around SoHo, but what he doesn't love is the blatant racism towards him and his friends, considering they were there to help, Lawrie doesn't feel appreciated at all, and even though he was now a British citizen, it didn't matter, as the colour of his skin said otherwise. While doing his post round one morning, Lawrie makes an awful discovery, that sets the future plans that he has with Evie on very thin ice. This was at times a very hard hitting book mixed in with the mystery, to see all of these people being treated so badly just because of the colour of their skin makes me so angry, and even more so because of the Windrush situation that came to light in the news back in 2018 and is still going on now. Louise Hare has managed to create a very atmospheric story and I could almost hear the Jazz band, and smell the smoky bars as I listened to this audiobook Narrated By Theo Solomon and Karise Yansen who did a wonderful job recreating the character voices **Thank you to HQ Stories for giving me a free copy of this audiobook**

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lel Budge

    This is historical fiction set in London soon after WW2 and is so redolent with atmosphere you can almost smell it. Lawrie had arrived in London on the ship, Empire Windrush, he’s now a postman by day and an aspiring musician at night. He’s also in love with Evie, but they face many difficult challenges to say the least. They just want a quiet life together. One day, Lawrie hears a woman shouting and a baby is found in a pond, regrettably they baby doesn’t survive. The police immediately suspect t This is historical fiction set in London soon after WW2 and is so redolent with atmosphere you can almost smell it. Lawrie had arrived in London on the ship, Empire Windrush, he’s now a postman by day and an aspiring musician at night. He’s also in love with Evie, but they face many difficult challenges to say the least. They just want a quiet life together. One day, Lawrie hears a woman shouting and a baby is found in a pond, regrettably they baby doesn’t survive. The police immediately suspect the Jamaican community just because the baby had dark skin…….but can the truth be found? While this is a murder mystery, I felt it so much more as it deals with the reality of the horrific discrimination and abuse the ‘Windrush’ generation deal with on a daily basis, truly shameful. A beautifully written, emotional tale and one that will stay with me for a long time. Thank you to Sian at HQ for the opportunity to take part in this Book Blog Tour, for the promotional material and a free copy of the the book. This is my honest and unbiased review

  19. 4 out of 5

    Prina

    For the first time in a long time, I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish a book. This book was so gripping & entertaining. It was also really interesting to understand the racism of 1950s London & the impact of it on individuals - Louise did an awesome job writing these characters.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jem

    Thank you to @harlequinaus for sending me a copy to review. I really enjoyed this debut historical fiction novel. We follow the story of Lawrie who has moved from Jamaica to England to live a better life after the war. It explores the struggles of Lawrie and his friends making a life of there own in a place that is not as accepting of them as they first thought. The story flowed well and focused on Lawries POV. It covered a number of issues prevalent around the time period it was set in and I fe Thank you to @harlequinaus for sending me a copy to review. I really enjoyed this debut historical fiction novel. We follow the story of Lawrie who has moved from Jamaica to England to live a better life after the war. It explores the struggles of Lawrie and his friends making a life of there own in a place that is not as accepting of them as they first thought. The story flowed well and focused on Lawries POV. It covered a number of issues prevalent around the time period it was set in and I felt the author explored these well. . The characters were developed well and my heart was racing when things were happening to them and I wasn't sure how it was going to end. The story definitely kept me engaged throughout and I was wanting to know what was going to happen to them all. There was moments where the characters were enjoying themselves and doing ok which was nice to read. Overall and enjoyable read and one I'd recommend to those who enjoy reading historical fiction.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Chapter Ichi

    In an instant I was swept back in time to 1950s London. The novel evokes a powerful sense of place. I was immersed in Lawrie and Evie's world through the vivid descriptions of London's music halls, parks, streets and homes. Louise Hare understands what it means to write a historical fiction novel. Lawrie is a struggling jazz musician, working as a postman to make ends meet. Arriving in London from the Empire Windrush from Jamaica, Lawrie realises that his move may not meet his expectations of th In an instant I was swept back in time to 1950s London. The novel evokes a powerful sense of place. I was immersed in Lawrie and Evie's world through the vivid descriptions of London's music halls, parks, streets and homes. Louise Hare understands what it means to write a historical fiction novel. Lawrie is a struggling jazz musician, working as a postman to make ends meet. Arriving in London from the Empire Windrush from Jamaica, Lawrie realises that his move may not meet his expectations of the life he had hoped for. Evie, the woman living next door, opens his eyes to what could be. Their relationship has had its ups and downs and they are faced with one particular challenge that will impact much more than their relationship. I could have continued to read about the story of their life. I connected with the characters very easily. Post war London was not a comfortable place for someone of a different race or dark skin colour. This Lovely City proves not to be so lovely at times, due to the racism and discrimination its peoole are faced with daily, including by those in authority. The twists and turns in the novel had me continuallyy guessing and the crime being investigated had me feeling very emotional. I would highly recommend this novel to fans of historical fiction and/or romance. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  22. 5 out of 5

    Εvdokia Veloudou (velvetreads)

    This has been one of the most mesmerising books I've read in a while. I literally flew by it and listened to this in like a day and a half. It took me totally by storm and given I had very high expectations out of it - yet I did not know what I was about to read - I thoroughly enjoyed this novel from beginning to end. I was lucky enough to be given a chance to review this as an audiobook and as I'm a big fan of audiobooks generally, I was so enthralled by the narration and the production of it. This has been one of the most mesmerising books I've read in a while. I literally flew by it and listened to this in like a day and a half. It took me totally by storm and given I had very high expectations out of it - yet I did not know what I was about to read - I thoroughly enjoyed this novel from beginning to end. I was lucky enough to be given a chance to review this as an audiobook and as I'm a big fan of audiobooks generally, I was so enthralled by the narration and the production of it. The brief musical interludes between the narration of the two main characters made it easy for me to distinguish whose story I was listening to and focus on each character's storyline. Despite the gruelling thematology in the storyline - racism, murder, family secrets, broken hearts, rape - this novel was a sheer delight from beginning to end. The way Louise Hare wrote the story made me an instant fan girl of hers. Let alone the fact that the book was taking place in the late 40s-early 50s in South London - in Clapham Junction to be precise - where I currently live, it made me feel closer to the story knowing all the places mentioned in the story. Hare has a natural ability to lure you into the story and entice you with her evocative descriptions. She's ever so subtly demanding the reader to pay attention and undergo the same emotional journey that her characters go through. Compassion and empathy were two of the emotions I could easily develop for the characters, as their storylines allowed me to invest emotionally and root for their happy ending. And going even beyond that, just the fact that the storyline is infused with the Jamaican cultural flavour, was enough for me to be completely swept away by this story. I highly recommend this in audio if you're a fan of audiobooks.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Blue

    Want to see more... Bookstagram Website Thank you HQ for this book in exchange for an honest review This was a bit of a slow read and took a while to get to wear it needed to go. Lawrie moved to England from Jamaica in hopes of living a better life after the war and you follow Lawrie and his friends struggling to find a place in a society that doesn’t believe they belong. As heart breaking as the story was, I found it to be predictable? Might just be because I know how horrid humans can be but re Want to see more... Bookstagram Website Thank you HQ for this book in exchange for an honest review This was a bit of a slow read and took a while to get to wear it needed to go. Lawrie moved to England from Jamaica in hopes of living a better life after the war and you follow Lawrie and his friends struggling to find a place in a society that doesn’t believe they belong. As heart breaking as the story was, I found it to be predictable? Might just be because I know how horrid humans can be but regardless I found myself predicting the whole plot. While I loved the determination that the characters faced and how they weren’t willing to give up easily and the world building seemed accurate for a historical fiction, I just like the predictability of it? If you can get passed the plot, the writing is beautiful and contributed to the 1950 vibe that the book and the characters are interesting and the book shows the cruel nature of the human race.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    Wow! What a twist! I thought I had it figured out Although some parts of the book are very sad and difficult to read I loved Louise's light but a meaningful writing style. I look forward to reading more! Wow! What a twist! I thought I had it figured out Although some parts of the book are very sad and difficult to read I loved Louise's light but a meaningful writing style. I look forward to reading more!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Kerdouci

    Welcome home is the message to greet the West Indian immigrants arriving in the motherland aboard the Empire Windrush in 1948. Louise Hare’s impressive debut novel shows this to be far from the truth. Given the scandal surrounding Windrush, this captivating and atmospheric novel is a topical reminder of the daily racism, violence and poverty these men faced when embarking on a new life in this green and pleasant land. Lack of accommodation, difficulty in finding employment and faced with general Welcome home is the message to greet the West Indian immigrants arriving in the motherland aboard the Empire Windrush in 1948. Louise Hare’s impressive debut novel shows this to be far from the truth. Given the scandal surrounding Windrush, this captivating and atmospheric novel is a topical reminder of the daily racism, violence and poverty these men faced when embarking on a new life in this green and pleasant land. Lack of accommodation, difficulty in finding employment and faced with general hostility must have been a huge shock to the likes of Lawrie, our main protagonist, and his motley crew of friends. Hardworking, trustworthy reliable and loyal are all qualities many people chose to overlook because of the colour of Lawrie’s skin but I suppose compared to some he is lucky in finding work as a postman whilst still being able to follow his passion as a jazz musician in the Soho clubs. The author’s words transport you to those grimy streets,and the dance halls where you can almost hear the music and you can feel the grubbiness of the poor living accommodation and almost smell the sweat and tears from Lawrie’s hard labour. But you also get a sense of the camaraderie in the group, the teasing and the laughs and the get togethers, sticking side by side like glue, coping mechanisms to rise above the racism and the police brutality. Plus Lawrie has Evie, the girl next door who he’s fallen for and life is looking good until one day he happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, finding a dead baby in Eagle pond in Clapham Common. His dreams of a more promising future with Evie by his side suddenly seem to fade. This is as much Evie’s story as it is Laurie’s. Of mixed race parentage herself, she’s always felt an outsider so prospective marriage to Lawrie seems like a godsend for both her and her mother Agnes. As well as tackling such serious issues as inherent racism, the novel provides an insight into society’s attitudes towards unmarried mothers and their offspring and how few options were available to these women. Either sent away to relatives in other parts of the country or confined to unmarried mother and baby homes, these ‘fallen’ women would be tainted for life, often cast out from their families. Although This Lovely City’ is a work of fiction I found it to be a fascinating discourse on social mores of the time and became completely absorbed in the storyline. Naturally it is Lawrie who is chief suspect and his friends who are interviewed and interrogated about this crime and blame is quickly apportioned to the West Indian community. They are easy targets for the repellent Detective Rathbone and the notion of innocent until proven guilty doesn’t exist in his eyes. I felt immensely saddened by Lawrie’s predicament as he is a gentle, loving soul whose only crime is having the ‘wrong’ colour skin. Evie’s situation too is heartbreaking and as events unfold her relationship with her mother Agnes is revealed as extremely complex. I think the author has written sensitively about life in London in the aftermath of the war, with vivid descriptions of bombed out buildings, the rationing and the general hardship. Hostility towards a group of people promised a better life permeates the narrative. Did the ending do the rest of this novel justice? In my opinion I have to say I was disappointed that the author chose this particular way to bring the storyline to its conclusion, although I think I understand why it had to be this way. Maybe Lawrie and Evie’s future is wrapped up rather too conveniently but I like that this novel ends on a hopeful note after so much tragedy. Excellent debut which I highly recommend and my thanks to HQ the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl M-M

    Lawrie is not long off the Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks. He more or less works around the clock as a musician and postman. While he is out making a special delivery he comes upon a woman in distress, she has just found an infant near a pond, and so begins the attempt to discredit and blame Lawrie. An absolutely innocent Lawrie. Lawrie is targeted because he is a dark skinned man. Itt doesn't matter that he was there per chance and he helped the woman, as far as the police are concerned he is Lawrie is not long off the Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks. He more or less works around the clock as a musician and postman. While he is out making a special delivery he comes upon a woman in distress, she has just found an infant near a pond, and so begins the attempt to discredit and blame Lawrie. An absolutely innocent Lawrie. Lawrie is targeted because he is a dark skinned man. Itt doesn't matter that he was there per chance and he helped the woman, as far as the police are concerned he is the culprit. The police officer tries to fit the person around the crime, and whilst doing so Lawrie takes a kicking. People start to gossip and in an attempt to take the finger of blame off themselves they start pointing said finger at others. People like bi-racial Evie, who has plenty of secrets to hide, despite the picture of innocence she puts on display. Is she capable of dumping an infant and leaving it to its fate? For those of us who try to be aware of our white privilege and the systemic racism that is a shadow on our society, this is quite often a difficult read. I can't even fathom discarding a child because of its skin colour or treating someone who isn't white as if they were a lesser person than myself. I was raised to regard everyone as equals, but a wise woman taught me that isn't sufficient - you have to be aware of the oppression, the racism and the inequality to be able to do something about it. It's historical fiction with strong topics of racism, oppression, police brutality and assault. Hare doesn't pull any punches when it comes to the reality of the Windrush generation and their experience in post-war Britain. It is also a relevant topic in our day and age, as the aforementioned generation and their contributions are still met with criticism and opposition. It's certainly an emotional listen, which is narrated exceptionally by Theo Solomon and Karise Yansen, as they do the words of Hare justice. *I received a courtesy copy*

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    Along with many other Carribbean residents, Lawrie arrived in London on the Empire Windrush, answering the call for overseas British citizens to help rebuild war-torn Britain. He has found accommodation, has fallen in love with Evie, plays clarinet in a jazz band in Soho bars at night and is a postman by day. Everything seems to be going well until he makes a dreadful discovery in a park one day. From then on, his new life seems to unravel and fingers of suspicion point at him and others from th Along with many other Carribbean residents, Lawrie arrived in London on the Empire Windrush, answering the call for overseas British citizens to help rebuild war-torn Britain. He has found accommodation, has fallen in love with Evie, plays clarinet in a jazz band in Soho bars at night and is a postman by day. Everything seems to be going well until he makes a dreadful discovery in a park one day. From then on, his new life seems to unravel and fingers of suspicion point at him and others from the Carribbean community. Louise Hare draws you in with Lawrie and Evie both coming across as really likeable characters. Then all of a sudden, she grabs your attention with this sentence: "Towards the end of the day, as he sat in the police station, he would wonder if in that moment he'd jinxed himself - walking around with that stupid grin on his face as if he were the luckiest man alive." I really was enraged on behalf of Lawrie and Evie and the injustice they faced just because they weren't white. In fact Lawrie feels at one point that no matter what his passport says "A man with black skin could never be considered British." It was distressing to read about the mistrust and suspicion of the Carribbean community. I did wonder if much in our society has changed? As the back of the book says, it is always newcomers who are treated with suspicion, or those who are just that bit 'different'. In this book, it is the Carribbean immigrants, but over the years this could equally apply to Pakistani or Indian immigrants, Polish immigrants, and probably nowadays the Muslim community. It made me despair at the inhumanity of people. And yet, the book is also full of hope, and about the power of love. I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded through chapters in the past and the present from different characters' points of view, letters and newspaper articles. It kept the story fresh and moving along. The story gathers pace as the book progresses ending with some final dramatic scenes. Secrets from the past come to light and have repercussions in the present, there is a mystery to be solved and quite a few twists. This Lovely City is novel which conveyed the atmosphere of post-war Britain in a very compelling way.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Grace J Reviewerlady

    Have you ever wondered what it was like for the Windrush generation when they travelled to Britain? Then this is where you can find out! Lawrie and his friend Aston have answered the Commonwealth call to make a new life in Britain following the end of World War Two. Finally securing a job as a postman, Lawrie spends his spare time playing in a band to earn extra money and life is looking up, especially when he meets Evie. But then Lawrie tries to help a local woman in distress, and the repercussi Have you ever wondered what it was like for the Windrush generation when they travelled to Britain? Then this is where you can find out! Lawrie and his friend Aston have answered the Commonwealth call to make a new life in Britain following the end of World War Two. Finally securing a job as a postman, Lawrie spends his spare time playing in a band to earn extra money and life is looking up, especially when he meets Evie. But then Lawrie tries to help a local woman in distress, and the repercussions are frightening, unearthing secrets and spreading discontent far and wide. This is a stunningly beautiful read, especially for a debut author. Well written with a smoothly flowing narrative, this one provides plenty of food for thought. It is bursting with life and, as far as I know, is scarily realistic. I was shocked at times, smiling at others and quite in awe most of the time. Whatever you think of it, this is not a novel you will forget easily and I recommend that you give it a try; a fine tale with wonderful characters and plenty of revelations along the way. By no means a straightforward read, this will keep you on your toes to the very end! I closed the book with a sigh of satisfaction. and will definitely be on the lookout for more from Louise Hare in future. I'm very happy to give This Lovely City 4.5*.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cen-sational Reads

    The Lovely City by Louise Hare Published by @hqstories 💛 Set in 1940s England. It follows 2 main characters- a young Jamaican man who has arrived in the UK on the wind rush & a young mixed race woman who is being brought up my her white single mum. 💛 It is a take on racism, discrimination, suspicion & violence. People who are not know. The unknown gives people the feeling of suspicion. It falls on those who have come to the UK to build a better life for themselves and their family. 💛 However because th The Lovely City by Louise Hare Published by @hqstories 💛 Set in 1940s England. It follows 2 main characters- a young Jamaican man who has arrived in the UK on the wind rush & a young mixed race woman who is being brought up my her white single mum. 💛 It is a take on racism, discrimination, suspicion & violence. People who are not know. The unknown gives people the feeling of suspicion. It falls on those who have come to the UK to build a better life for themselves and their family. 💛 However because they appear different & let’s be honest due to the colour of their skin the people of London act with caution. 💛 It isn’t an easy subject and yet it has been written well. The plot is strong and characters are well rounded and written. 💛 Recommended read. Out Now Thank you to both NetGalley and HQ publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my review

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hâf

    Louise Hare has written a beautiful yet heartbreaking debut. I had no idea this novel would have such a depth of emotion, I was expecting a fun and upbeat historical fiction but I received something much more! This Lovely City tells the story of a couple called Lawrie & Ellie. Lawrie is a postman by day and a musician by night hoping to save enough money for a small wedding and a honeymoon. I enjoyed reading about these enchanting characters from the very first chapter, their romance was so swee Louise Hare has written a beautiful yet heartbreaking debut. I had no idea this novel would have such a depth of emotion, I was expecting a fun and upbeat historical fiction but I received something much more! This Lovely City tells the story of a couple called Lawrie & Ellie. Lawrie is a postman by day and a musician by night hoping to save enough money for a small wedding and a honeymoon. I enjoyed reading about these enchanting characters from the very first chapter, their romance was so sweet and I was rooting for them throughout the whole book. I really enjoyed how this novel was written. The story was told through the characters present day actions and also through flashbacks of the days and months straight after Lawrie's arrival in England. Secrets were revealed through the flashbacks while the characters struggled with accusations in the present day, with everything crashing together in a shocking finale. I would most definitely recommend this brilliant book to everyone! This book tackled the racism following the generation of Jamaican people who were 'welcomed' to Britain after World War Two. It was a very compelling read that I could not put down until the mystery was solved!

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