Light Perpetual: Magnificently observed love letter to London

Book review: Francis Spufford creates a rich and textured study of a city centred around five fictional characters

Francis Spufford: there are many passages of dazzling lucidity in his novel Light Perpetual. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images

Francis Spufford: there are many passages of dazzling lucidity in his novel Light Perpetual. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images

On a Saturday lunchtime in November 1944, a German rocket exploded at a London branch of Woolworths. Francis Spufford takes this historical event as the catalyst for unspooling the unlived lives of five fictional victims in his new novel. It is hard to see the necessity for the literary conceit. This is not a book about the butterfly effect: the variable potentials or endless possibilities of human fate. Anyway, could anyone do that better than Kate Atkinson in Life After Life or Jenny Erpenbeck in End of Days?

Basically: don’t believe the blurb. What Light Perpetual really is, is a magnificently observed love letter to London, and a powerful celebration of the wonders of ordinary life.

The Irish Times
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