Books about London

Books About London

I've always loved London and books about London.

I remember when still living in Finland, and came across The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, I fell in love with the late literary giant and Nobel-winning author of this epic novel – and London. From Charles Dickens's Bleak House to Graham Greene's The End of the Affair to a more modern novel, One Day by David Nicholls, I've loved stories set in this city which I now proudly call home. 

So I thought I'd share with you a new crop of books, all about London, set in different times in the city, that I have enjoyed recently.

The London Bookshop Affair by Louise Fein

I was drawn to The London Bookshop Affair for its 1960s London setting and espionage-tinged love story. It evokes the same feeling when reading Graham Greene with its intriguing and secretive Cold War bookshop and a seemingly naive young protagonist.

One of my early titles, The Red King of Helsinki, also attempts to evoke the juxtaposition of the innocence of youth against the calculating machinery of state, or states pitched against each other in the murky underworld of espionage during the Cold War era. (Go here: to find out more.)

Like The Red King of Helsinki, Louise Fein's story is about a young woman who unwittingly gets involved in a spy ring, which in turn makes her question her heritage and station in the world.

Fein's writing is concise, with well-developed characters and a plot that builds tension effectively, culminating in a logical and satisfying climax. This novel skillfully merges historical and romantic elements, making it a good choice for readers who adore a Cold War romance novel.

The Artist's Apprentice by Clare Flynn

Clare Flynn, a writer friend, continues to delight with her historical novels featuring strong female characters. Her latest novel, The Artist's Apprentice, is set in 1920s Britain and is the story of art-loving Alice, who refuses to agree to an arranged marriage.

Instead, Alice secretly joins the suffragette movement and leaves her comfortable home for an uncertain future. Away from London society's expectations, she can make her own choices and feel free. However, romance is on the horizon for Alice, but this comes with huge sacrifices and complications. I loved reading about Alice and completely empathised with her choices.

I would recommend this novel highly to fans of historical romance. Luckily a sequel to the book, The Artist's Wife, is out now. A little bird has told me that the title of the third book in the series has just been revealed. The Artist's War is out on 27th September and I cannot wait to read it!

I recommended An Artist's Apprentice to my followers on TikTok. If you are on the platform, go and check out my feed here:

The Bookseller's Wife by Jane Davis

I'm currently reading The Bookseller’s Wife, which is by another author friend (I have so many talented friends in the writing circles!). This historical novel is also set in London, but a few hundred years earlier than The London Bookshop Affair.

In 1775 London, Dorcas Turton, the only surviving child of six, faces ruin due to her father's gambling problem. Threatened by debtor's prison, she relies on her ingenuity, learned from novels, to open a girls' day school and welcome lodgers to fend off creditors.

However, her father's wasteful habits continue.

The arrival of the ambitious bookseller, James Lackington, and his wife, brings a fresh lease of life to their household. Dorcas unexpectedly finds herself envying Mrs Lackington's faith and adaptability, and even her husband.

Jane Davis's historical novel, based on a true story, delivers a compelling depiction of Georgian London, the power of literature, and unforgettable characters. I'm also pleased to see that this is the first in a series of books about London's Chiswell Street.

The characters in The Bookseller's Wife seem so real that I dream about them. For me, this is a sign of a good story!

The Man of Her Dreams by Sarra Manning

I'm a huge fan of Sarra Manning's books. After the Last Dance, a novel set during the last days of WW2 is one of my favourite novels, so when she publishes a new title, I will invariably buy it.

If I'm honest, it took me a while to get into The Man of Her Dreams. The story centres around a lonely young woman living in North London, near Parliament Hill Lido, an area of London I know very well. Esme lives alone but has the company of her very vivid imagination. Married – and divorced – young, Esme is still reeling from the hurt dished out by her ex when she suffers a fall on a night out with her friends. In the hospital, she meets the man of her dreams, but while their relationship develops, everything isn't as it seems with Esme.

The plot of the story is tightly wound, incorporating descriptions of the walls Esme has erected around herself after her divorce, as well as the complicated relationship she has with her older sister and their narcissistic parents.

I enjoyed the plot and the premise of the novel, but at times I was surprised by the sharp contrasts in story-telling. There are some very vivid sex scenes, for example (if you don't enjoy hot-to-the-touch romance books, stay away) which, in my opinion, came out of the blue (excuse the pun). Perhaps the bumpy narrative is meant to mirror Esme's mental and physical state, but I found it at times a little jarring.

However, having said the above, The Man of Your Dreams is an excellent holiday read. I enjoyed it on the long flight back from Orlando to my beloved London, preferring to read rather than watch a movie (or two)!

I hope you've enjoyed my new books set in London. Do you love books with a particular location? Or do you have a favourite book about London? Let me know by commenting below!

Some of the above include my affiliate links. If you buy through the link I get a small percentage, but you don’t pay more.
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