Also known as Dulcimer Street, Norman Collins's London Belongs to Me is a Dickensian romp through working-class London on the eve of the Second World War.
This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Ed Glinert, author of The London Compendium. It is 1938 and the prospect of war hangs over every London inhabitant.
But the city doesn't stop. Everywhere people continue to work, drink, fall in love, fight and struggle to get on in life.
At the lodging-house at No.10 Dulcimer Street, Kennington, the buttoned-up clerk Mr Josser returns home with the clock he has received as a retirement gift.
The other residents include faded actress Connie; tinned food-loving Mr Puddy; widowed landlady Mrs Vizzard (whose head is turned by her new lodger, a self-styled 'Professor of Spiritualism'); and flashy young mechanic Percy Boon, whose foray into stolen cars descends into something much, much worse... Norman Collins (1907-1982) was a British writer, and later a radio and television executive, who was responsible for creating Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4, and became one of the major figures behind the establishment of the Independent Television (ITV) network in the UK.
In all Norman Collins wrote 16 novels and two plays, including London Belongs to Me (1945), The Governor's Lady (1968) and The Husband's Story (1978). If you enjoyed London Belongs to Me, you might like Sam Selvon's The Lonely Londoners, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'One of the great city novels: a sprawling celebration of the comedy, the savagery, the eccentricity and the quiet heroism at the heart of ordinary London life'Sarah Waters, author of The Night Watch