The Streets, By Anthony Quinn

 

Most historical novelists perch us at the apex of society, and in the plushest seats. Not so Quinn, who in his third novel plunges into London's late-Victorian depths - not, cliché-averse, the East End, but seething St Pancras and Somers Town, with their abject poor and bustling do-gooders.

Beyond its splendid feel for the era's chat and patter, and its zeal for local credibility, the novel pits philanthropy and opportunism, idealism and selfishness, bracingly at odds. High-minded media folk should, especially, take heed.

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