What I'm Reading
A book about true crime and history all set around London's famous river.
We may forget how rivers are part of our lives and how they affect us. I have a particular fondness for rivers having been brought up with the River Mersey in view and later to find myself living on the banks of the River Trent. Of course, the capital, London, has the biggest and most vibrant river of all, the Thames. 'The history of London is a history of the Thames' Galvin states in his introduction to his non-fiction book. How could I resist this gem?
It is set out thematically as opposed to a timeline and this is a great strategy. In this way only the exciting parts of Thames' story has to be told. The first chapter, for instance, is all about the fires of London and lists all the years of significant burning. It covers the first major fire in AD 60 when London had its Roman name of Londinium. Here, the great Iceni tribal queen Boudicca defeated the Romans who had settled there. Then the next fire in 122 AD, and so on.
The other chapters cover the World Wars and the Blitz, the buildings that line the river, their purpose and those who lived and worked there, bridges and the criminal and strange goings on, royal and otherwise. Kings and politics go as far back as Anglo-Saxon times with famous names such as King Canute and Harold of arrow-in-the-eye fame.
The topical chapters make this a book you can dip in to when you feel the need to find out about a particular aspect. But this work is such a pleasure to read, it lacks the dry textbook approach to the extent that it reads like a novel, almost. Once you start you won't want to stop. Fantastic. This should be a set book schools, the pupils will be running to history lessons mark my words.
Published by Sapere Books on 5 February 2019. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.