I received Falling for London as an ARC from the publisher. Being a Londoner myself, I thought it might be amusing to see my city through the eyes of a visitor. Also, I do like a good travel story. I had high hopes.
Falling for London is witty, heartwarming, and interesting. I very much enjoyed reading about Sean’s exploits, and laughed along with him (sometimes at him) as he described his time in London. Seeing the world through the eyes of someone else is always intriguing, but it’s definitely better when you’re in the hands of a consummate storyteller.
The style is Gonzo-journalism, a tame version of Hunter S. Thompson, with a little colloquial flare. It had a strong sense of voice, which gave a real personality to the story. The plot moves from one amusing anecdote to the next at a fast trot, with plenty of tidbits of detail to hook the reader. It was a little hard to decide whether Mallon genuinely enjoyed living in London, or just liked making quips about it. But London is a hard city. I would defy anyone to enjoy living here full time.
It was a little frustrating to watch someone make so many mistakes. Being a Londoner, I cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone would look for a rental property in Camden or Hampstead Heath. I mean, it is completely unaffordable. You’d either have to a be millionaire, or live in a rat hole. Most Londoners live outside and commute in. Plus, why would you want to be in Central London if you didn’t have to? It’s noisy, and dirty, and full of tourists. I have to say, there was some tutting… Like, why did no-one tell him this stuff? And if I have to hear one more time that London’s beer is always served warm… That just isn’t remotely true. Go out for craft beer, stop going to Wetherspoon’s… Jeez.
Despite the frustration of a Londoner, who wanted to set the author straight on a few points, and said “d’oh!” a couple of times, I very much enjoyed Falling for London and would recommend it for anyone who likes biographies and travel books. Just don’t buy it as a guide to the city…