Book settings: London

One of TSL’s straplines is #SupportingLocal. For TSL, local is wherever we want it to be as we have links in Africa as well as the UK and the US and into Europe and Australia…

However, many of our authors are local to our registered address in Hertfordshire, UK. Our physical location means we cross into at least three boroughs or counties as well as being part of Greater London. This is a blessing and a challenge as one tries to convince local bookshops and libraries that authors in the neighbouring town or county are actually local as they are closer to the shop/library than others in the named locality. Keeping track of which book would appeal to which area becomes quite a challenge as so many local locations may be mentioned in one book. What this has done, however, is made me realise how many authors use their localities for placing their novels (obviously autobiographical accounts are different).

A recent study on which parts of London featured in literature was quite revealing. TSL novels widen this map to West London, Hertfordshire and Berkshire.

Questions this raises are,
– Does a book with a specific location determine the wider success of a novel or not?
– How does a local-oriented book break through territorial boundaries?

London is clearly a well-known and loved city by many, so setting a book in the capital tends to make sense if a city backdrop is needed. A number of children’s classics use London for a setting or part thereof. Was this a way of preparing young people in the UK and wider empire for the day they would potentially visit? Was it a way of extending the capital to the outlying areas thereby giving citizens and others a feeling of being connected? Many visitors to London have said they feel they ‘know’ it (navigating the tube is a different story) – because of the books they’ve read?

The following TSL books are either set in London or feature the city significantly.

first published 12 August 2017, updated 2024

Anna Ryland, Fiction, Novel 1

On – A Second Chance – Anna Ryland

A Second Chance is the ‘cracking’ debut novel by Anna Ryland.

I met Anna at a local writers’ group I was talking to about publishing and over a cup of coffee she told me about her book. I was captivated with the idea. And the manuscript was no disappointment. It’s a tale of new beginnings and survival.

Set in 1980s London before Poland entered into the common European market and Poles could travel and work freely in Britain, A Second Chance recounts the experiences of young immigrants trying to make their way in a foreign city. Any new traveller to London, especially from overseas, will associate with the two friends trying to find each other at Paddington Station, the sense of disorientation and relief at finding someone you know.

Based on some of Anna’s own experiences and those of people she’s met, she encapsulates the fears and challenges of settling into a new city, and how this is exaccerbated when English isn’t your first language. But it’s not all negative and an uphill struggle. Interspersed are uplifting moments – so true to life where people, sometimes completely unexpected help solve a problem and give of themselves.

This is a book about life, in all its rawness.

And don’t just take my word that it’s a must read book, Keith Oswin posted

This book is addictive! Three chapters in and you’ve met the three main characters – and in my case decided that you actually care what happens to them.
With the current global nervousness about migrants, the release of this book could not have come at a more apposite time.
A cracking debut.

Have you seen?