I wasn’t very hopeful I’d get much time to read for the rest of the month with exams coming up but couldn’t resist raiding the local library when I dropped Bleak House back (one of my new rentals is Hard Times – I think I’m going to keep reading Dickens until another lets me down) – every time I go back I think I might have almost exhausted it and then stumble on a load more books on the list: one of which was the Lonely Londoners, which was a perfect commuting book for last week.
The Lonely Londoners tells the story of male West Indian immigrants in post WWII London, whose histories weave themselves around Moses, a Trinidadian who, having lived in the city for ten years, is often roped into helping out new arrivals. Despite the title, and Moses’ occasional self reflection on the lack of substance in his English life (lamenting how he has not managed to save up money to send for his family like Jamaican immigrants), it’s a mainly cheerful book told in its characters’ vernacular and following their exploits. The books follows its central characters – all of whom are black (but not necessarily from the West Indies) and most of whom are male – and their adjustment to London’s cool climate and public transport, the problems they face finding employment and their flings with white women. Despite often describing hardships the narrative bounds with an optimism – which is paramount in a section about the arrival of British summer which spans several pages without any punctuation conveying the characters’ excitement breathlessly.
I really enjoyed this book – it’s a shame it wasn’t longer (but then again it was the perfect length to last for each of the 4 bus rides I had this week and no more) – so it was a really good chance spot !