Postcards from London (Short Stories Book 2)
Postcards from London is a collection of short stories all based on London and the people who live or lived there. The stories take us from 60 or 61 AD with Queen Boudicca attacking the Roman settlement of Londinium through the 20th century and the Beatles last live performance and on into the somewhat dystopian future.
Theme of the Book
Mr. Walker’s book is the story of London by a writer who obviously knows and loves the city. London is the central character and is shown in all its facets, from its history to its culture to its citizens. The reader will find examples of joy, of sorrow, of fear, and of resilience in the face of adversity. The things, in fact, that are found in a living city.
What I Liked About the Story
There were three stories in the collection that truly impressed me. The first “Londinium Falling” tells the story of Boudicca’s attack on the Roman settlement of Londinium. The characters come alive; they are real people who gamble (and cheat) at dice, who worry about their families in a time of crisis, and who show both bravery and cowardice. The descriptions are so vivid that readers will be able to picture the scene: smoke rising, barbaric yells from the attackers, the fear and courage of the Roman soldiers.
In “Postcards from Camden Town” we are treated to a series of vignettes in the life of Brian Smith. In 1966, Brian becomes a police officer, impressing his friends and enjoying the new status his profession brings. In the second vignette, “Let it Be”, readers are treated to the excitement of the last live performance by the Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo make cameo appearances along with manager George Martin. And thanks to PC Smith, the concert takes place. We then follow Smith through his promotion to Detective Sergeant, his retirement, and finally his last case. In this series of vignettes, Mr. Walker gives the reader a highly entertaining and very accurate picture of London in the late 20th century.
The final story in the collection that is noteworthy is “El Dorado”. According to the author’s introduction, this story is autobiographical. In it, it is easy to identify with the author’s fears for his future, his acceptance of his fate, and yet his refusal to simply submit. The story is a beautifully written portrait of a man in a state of insecurity making the most of his life.
Other stories in the collection that were very well done were “Sanctioned” which exposes the sometimes disastrous results of bureaucracies’ neglect of citizens and “Geraniums” which deals with the fear of terrorist activity that has become a constant in modern life.
Finally, the addition of the actual postcards before most of the stories was a stroke of brilliance. They not only illustrate the point of the stories but also put the reader into a particular frame of mind.
What I Didn’t Like About the Story
While all of the stories in the collection are well-written, those taking place in the future are less effective than the stories that concern either the present or the past. “The Blitz”,and “Valentine’s Day” are both set in a dystopian future London.
Although the other stories in the collection indicate a fondness for the city, these two have a more pessimistic outlook. I doubt anyone would want to live in the London the author envisages. Both stories contain elements of science fiction – to say more would be to give away too much of the plots – but yet also include elements of romance and of modern stress.
Postcards from London is very well written and, on the whole, very entertaining. Readers familiar with the city will find themselves at home in the book. Readers who do not know London will certainly have a better feel for the city and its people after reading Postcards.