From Electric Lit:
London has served as the setting for many a novel—the backdrop to tales of scrappy orphans and drunk, dancing thirty-somethings, of marmalade-adoring bears and magical nannies. It’s also, of course, the setting for so many love stories.
Not quite as romantic as Paris, nor as hustle-and-bustle-y as New York, London sits somewhere in the middle, a charming city with grit, a gritty city with charm. And its greatest love stories often walk a similar tightrope. Sure, some feature the type of happily-ever-after in which the music swells and crescendos at the end; but, like its own identity and character, the majority of London’s love stories are constructed from a combination of toughness and tenderness, of joy and complications. They capture the beauty of falling in love, of course, but they also capture the reclaimed power that comes—sometimes—with falling out of it.
It’s a balance I’d like to think my own novel, Adelaide, has struck. Set in London, it details the rise and fall of a torrid and toxic relationship between the titular Adelaide Williams and a foppish-haired, emotionally unavailable Englishman named Rory Hughes—a relationship Adelaide eventually (and somewhat disastrously) exits, choosing instead to put herself first. Toeing the line between commercial and literary fiction, Adelaide, like London, hopefully balances light with dark—something so many brilliant writers, and their London-based novels, have done before.
This reading list features seven books that strike a similar balance—each telling its own version of what it means to fall in and out of love in the British capital.
. . . .
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
I’ve heard other writers describe Dolly Alderton as a millennial Nora Ephron—big shoes to fill, surely, but if anyone can wear them with confidence, it’s Dolly. And Ghosts, her debut novel, is a shining illustration of why.
It follows Nina Dean, a food writer in her early thirties living in north London, as she navigates the shifting nature of a number of relationships: with friends, with parents, with ex-boyfriends, and one, notably, with a beguiling man named Max. Alderton brilliantly captures the twists and turns of modern dating—the joy of late-night dancing, the distress of being ghosted—with sharp humor as well as big-hearted tenderness. An Ephron-esque talent, no doubt.
Maame by Jessica George
Maame by Jessica George is predominantly a coming-of-age story about 26-year-old Maddie Wright, but it’s speckled with romantic adventures (and entanglements) throughout. George tackles everything from the magic of first kisses to the hellish nature of apps (including the fetishization and microaggressions to which Black women are far too often subjected) to the challenges of dating while grieving with unparalleled grace and wit, painting a painfully accurate portrait of one young woman’s love life in London.
Link to the rest at Electric Lit