When I think of London I think of suave sophistication, the Royals, a stiff upper lip and horrible weather. I certainly did not find it easy to get my head around the characters of this book - earthy, tough, some of them frighteningly timid, some of them frightening aggressive. All trying to simply survive in the world of Cottingham Park in London.
The disparity amongst Londoners trying to come to grips with a new world breaking in on them, and how they are going to cope with the huge news that a new road/highway is coming through their neighbourhood tearing up everything in its path - entire neighbourhoods gone, the school torn down and children placed in the dreaded Green Lane school. How despite overwhelming odds, a few people have faith that out of the hundreds of children passing through their hand - hardly anyone being even remotely literate, there will be one success story of a boy making good - this would be the highlight of the book.
As usual the story of survival whether its in the aftermatch of WW1, the Holocast or simply a London neighbourhood all make for interesting reading. Everyday families, everyday stories told incredibly well
where one is able to identify an aunt in the story with one of your own, and maybe your parents spouting the same words to recalcitrant teenagers!
Sad to read about the race riots and especially the West Indians who came to London in their hundreds seeking a better life - and this was never realized. I did not know very much about the grinding poverty of these immigrants and how they struggled to live - the difficulties in finding work, even a place to stay would have made anyone despair. The overwhelming antagonism against the West Indians and the derogatory manner in which they were generally treated was very stark in this book. It is also obviously realistic and true.
Monica Dickens a grand daughter of Charles Dickens is obviously a Londoner - and she speaks from the heart in this book.