Imagined London isn’t really a travel book. It’s more of a place book. An homage. Anna Quindlen’s love of London — its characters both real and imagined, its spaces both past and present — is an essential and relevant part of this book. She doesn’t pretend to be anything but a huge fan of this amazing city and the works of literature it has both inspired and produced.
If you are a lover of British literature, many names and book titles will thrill you with their familiarity as Quindlen gives us a tour around London. Of course there are Dickens and Shakespeare, but we meet Heyer and Waugh, Austen and Doyle as we make our literary way. It’s not the sort of book you’d necessarily take with you on a journey — but one you’d want to read beforehand, to get your feet wet a bit and know how to best use your time if seeing bookish sites is one of your top priorities.
But more than all that, Quindlen is also thinking about herself as a reader and as an American who loves everything British and about the way we imagine things in our head versus the way they are in real life. Perhaps a city like London just has to be appreciated in many different levels — as the place that it was, the place it was only ever imagined to be and the place that it actually is. Quindlen has a beautiful style and while the subject of this book may not for everyone, for what it is, it is beautifully done.
Rated: Mild for one moderate use of language and one or two “adult themed” paragraphs.