Thursday, 12 November 2015

Ridley Road by Jo Bloom

Ridley Road
By Jo Bloom
Published by W&N (24 September 2015)
ISBN: 978-1780228242

Publisher's description
SUMMER, 1962. Twenty-year-old Vivien Epstein, a Jewish hairdresser from Manchester, arrives in London following the death of her father. She has travelled to the city to make a new start, and quickly finds herself swept up in a city buzzing with life. Landing a job at Oscar's salon, she thrives amid the vibrant café culture of Soho and the warm camaraderie of the other hairdressers.

But beneath the surface, Vivien is desperate to find Jack Fox, a man she had a brief but intense romance with some months before. Her search leads to confront the dark resurgence of fascism, countered by the Jewish community in street battles around Ridley Road in the East End of London. Amid the growing tensions, can her love survive?

My verdict
Ridley Road is a powerful story set in the 1960s, at a time when fascism and anti-semitism was spilling onto the streets of London.

Young hairdresser Vivien moves to London from Manchester after her father dies. With few friends or relatives there, she is desperate to track down Jack Fox, a man she fell in love with some months before. But when Jack returned to London, he disappeared without a trace.

I loved Vivien and Jack and their flourishing relationship during troublesome times. These two characters get inside your head, as they feel very real, and I desperately wanted them to find each other and stay together. I found the book's historical background fascinating - this was a subject I knew very little about.

Ridley Road is exceptionally well plotted and written with tenderness. It's clear that the author not only knows her topic well, but cares greatly for it. Her writing gives you a real feel for 1960s London and its social history, with its descriptive language and colourful characters. This book is a lovely read and one that I will certainly recommend.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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