The drinks are flowing. The music’s playing. But the party can’t last.
London, 1950. With the Blitz over and London still rebuilding after the war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Arriving from Jamaica aboard the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door.
Touring Soho’s music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home — and it’s alive with possibility. Until one morning, while crossing a misty common, he makes a terrible discovery.
As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And before long, London’s newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart. Immersive, poignant, and utterly compelling, Louise Hare’s debut examines the complexities of love and belonging, and teaches us that even in the face of anger and fear, there is always hope.
With the Windrush generation in the news again, for all the wrong reasons, this is a timely novel about those first arrivals and their new lives in London.
They face racism, both institutional and individual, a struggle to find somewhere to live, work, love.
Lawrie is an empathetic protagonist, you really feel for him as he’s scapegoated and railroaded by a biased copper and a suspicious community.
But it’s Evie’s story that really made me sad, the daughter of a mixed race couple, raised by a single parent, surrounded by white faces and ignorance her whole life.
This is at its heart a love story, not just that of Lawrie and Evie, but of mothers and daughters, of friends, community and music.
Moving and well written, I think Louise Hare is definitely going to be one to watch, this debut novel is powerful and much like Pandora’s box, there’s hope under all the darkness.