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London (1997)

von Edward Rutherfurd

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
4,013662,264 (3.94)151
Eine Liebeserklärung an die englische Metropole, angelegt als epochale Zeitreise durch 2000 Jahre Vergangenheit von der Römerzeit bis in die Gegenwart.
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Even though London follows the same narrative pattern as Paris, I didn’t find it quite as engaging and I’m still struggling to figure out why. The history of the City is fascinating, but I am much more familiar with English history and there was therefore much less to “discover” per se, even through the eyes of Rutherfurd’s unique group of characters. His focus is typically on the common people of London - only straying to a minor encounter with Henry VIII and a few characters to rise to high middle class from common roots - but their stories are no less poignant than that of their social betters. Rife with mercantile greed, Roman gold, and peppered with the great happenings of a great city, these characters may have lived “common” lives, but they definitely seem to be representative of the people. What possibly made their stories less engaging than those of their Parisian counterparts is that Rutherfurd chose to focus on characters driven by economics. Sure, they fall in love, they hatch murder schemes, but the common thread that ties the pre-Roman fisherman to the cash-strapped Renaissance playwright to the slag-heap Baron is money. Tradition in economics is strong in the British Isles, so the passing on of ale-brewing businesses and marrying into the right-guild families is much more common than in laissez-faire Paris, where many of the characters seemed to fall into their circumstances merely by chance or through breaking with tradition. Of course, this doesn’t make the book any less good, since Rutherfurd’s prose and storytelling is still wonderful within each micro-tale, but it definitely sets a different literary tone than the one that I was expecting! ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Premissa interessantíssima, literalmente um épico sobre uma cidade. Mistura história com ficção de uma maneira equilibrada. ( )
  ladyars | Dec 31, 2020 |
As I’ve said multiple times over the course of reading this, if I didn’t have a plot bunny this was relevant to, I’d have quit about three or four chapters in, tops. It has … not aged well, let us say, and I kept putting it down out of a mix of boredom and outrage.

First, the things Rutherfurd does well:

tell a pleasant story (if you’re looking not to think, and are a straight white man)
relate history with reasonable accuracy, at least to the understandings current in 1999 (he clearly did do a lot of research)
show how events influence others, and be more obvious about multiple generations being present at once than the history books generally do
hit all the major events and landmarks of London, like the Romans and Shakespeare and the Crystal Palace
describe historical places and buildings that no longer exist in ways that bring them to mind, and historical inventions as the marvels they would been at the time
portray Londoners’ love of their city and play into that at every chance.

And now, the things that bugged me:

holy cats his treatment of women! Not only does he subscribe to the belief that every historical woman ever was either obedient, submissive, or under the thumb of her husband, or independent and controlling and therefore someone to be feared, and to the belief that abuse was the norm, but he also has a marked tendency to describe their physical appearance enticingly, introduce them as “the woman” or “she” pages before he gives them names or dialogue, and to give them plots related to their relationship status and children.
that last one is probably an understatement; so, so many of the mini-plots have to do with getting a wife, getting a husband, having children, being married off, being unfaithful in marriage, etc.
there’s also one family who occasionally have very fat daughters who do nothing but sit around and eat constantly, who are noticeably dimmer than their relatives and never speak a word of dialogue
very whitewashed and straightwashed, with two Black characters, one a sexualized woman and one the kidnapping pirate who “inspired” Othello and no queer people I can recall except for one or two kings, who aren’t really characters.

Additionally, a lot of the history segments are reasonably infodumpy for all they’re smooth reading, and the writing’s simply average. There’s nothing that really shines about it and nothing that sucks. Part of what got me, and this is a me problem, is that I knew a whole lot of the history of London from reading other things, and so there wasn’t a whole lot that was new to me apart from some of the landmark histories. (I also know of some of the historical discoveries and current opinions re: racial diversity, female agency, etc. which no longer sync with their presentation here.) I can see someone who knows very little about the city being more enthused with all the historical tidbits Rutherfurd weaves in, and he’s clearly writing for those people because of the “oh ho ho” tone he frequently adopts when presenting them.

Overall, I found the story boring and reductive, the characters average to offensive, and Rutherfurd’s inability to think of plots outside family relationships aggravating. It keeps the threads connected, sure, but a more modern or creative take on this story would have been so much better.

Recommended if you want to see what people are complaining about when they say novels are neither diverse or kind to women, and to get a better appreciation for how far publishing’s come in the last 19 years.

Warnings: Rampant misogyny, including but not limited to abuse, sexual harassment and assault, rape, and lack of female agency. Fatphobia. Very Straight™. Incredibly white and not great with its the only two Black characters.

2/10 (was a 5 before the stuff in warnings) ( )
  NinjaMuse | Jul 26, 2020 |
London. La novela: un recorrido por 2.000 años de Historia de Londres
  Chule | Apr 2, 2020 |
Christmas gift from Daniel 2014 ( )
  Overgaard | Oct 5, 2019 |
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Eine Liebeserklärung an die englische Metropole, angelegt als epochale Zeitreise durch 2000 Jahre Vergangenheit von der Römerzeit bis in die Gegenwart.

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