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Austen to Zafón

Reading widely since 1972.

Currently reading

A London Family, 1870-1900: A Trilogy
Molly Hughes
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Steven Galloway
Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Lewis Thomas
All the Names
José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa
A History of the World in 100 Objects
Neil MacGregor
Down the Garden Path
Beverley Nichols
Virtue Betray'd, Or, Anna Bullen
John Banks
Year of Wonders
Geraldine Brooks
Swallows and Amazons
Arthur Ransome
Illusion in java
Gene Fowler

London Was Yesterday, 1934-1939 (A Studio Book)

London Was Yesterday, 1934-1939 (A Studio Book) - Janet Flanner Janet Flanner, an American ex-pat, wrote the bi-weekly "Letter from Paris" column for the New Yorker for 50 years; 1925 to 1975. But from 1934-39, the New Yorker asked her to also write the "Letter from London." Apparently she split her time between the two capitals, which can't have been easy. I read her [b:Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939|19571|Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939|Janet Flanner|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1388204585s/19571.jpg|244542] and this book just doesn't have the same passion. The Paris letters focus more on the raucous jazz age shenanigans and some politics, and while a lot of it (especially the name dropping) went over my head, it was clear she loved Paris and Paris loved her. Her London letters, or at least the scant selection here, are almost exclusively about the royal family and the theater crowd, with a little about politics thrown in. I didn't get much feel for what it was like to be an average Londoner living in the city in that era.

Perhaps I'm spoiled by Mollie Panter-Downes who succeeded Flanner and wrote the "Letter from London" column for the next 45 years (The New Yorker must've been really good to its writers!). Her letters, which I read in [b:London War Notes, 1939-1945|1683766|London War Notes, 1939-1945|Mollie Panter-Downes|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1387726325s/1683766.jpg|234232], give a good feel for the time and place and not just what it was like for the wealthy and socially privileged. She was a Londoner and right at home, but able to communicate that particular culture to the American reader.

I give this book three stars for its stellar, although somewhat obsequious, portrait of Queen Elizabeth (mother of the current Queen) and her reports on the love affair and abdication of King Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor). She paints a sympathetic portrait of Wallis Simpson.