Review of Big London Dreams by Clare Lydon
Every time I pick a book by Clare Lydon I know what I’m gonna get well-written, quintessentially London, queer stories. I could like some more than others, though I always know that I’m going to enjoy them. But with Big London Dreams, Clare Lydon has outdone herself.
London, 1958. Two young women work side by side in a garment factory. They soon become friends and eventually, the friendship becomes much more. But love between two women in the 1950s is forbidden by society and it’s bound to fail. Sixty years later, both women reacquaint with each other but will they be able to pick up where they left?
I’m usually not a fan of historical fiction novels because they tend to be on the depressing side. Lately, there has been a tendency within the genre to rewrite the role of queerness in the past and its erasure from history. Olivia Waite’s Feminine Pursuits Series is an attempt to regain happily ever after queer stories in 1800s England. While I celebrate the effort, I feel like some of them aren’t authentic portrayals of the past. Big London Dreams manages to describe how it might have been to be a lesbian in the 1950s in a way that feels authentic but, at the same time, leaving a positive feel-good message in the end. All in all, this novel was right up my alley.
Ms. Lydon takes us time-traveling to London in the late 1950s with detailed descriptions of its different areas, shops, and streets. The descriptions have a photographic feel. I particularly loved her depiction of the English society, male and female roles, dress codes, courtship traditions, and rules. There’s a fantastic scene when the characters visit a gay pub for the first time describing the impression it left on them. I can absolutely relate to that feeling of freedom to publicly display your love for someone without being judged or worse. All these details, some very relevant, and others small tidbits sprinkled across the story, provide it with a feeling of authenticity which is a testament to Ms. Lydon’s exhaustive research.
As I mentioned before, this book has a feel-good vibe which is no different from the other seven books in the London Romance Series. However, be prepared for the emotional roller-coaster of the highs of seeing these young women falling in love, to the lows of having your heart stomped on and broken into pieces. This book is equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting and will leave you both sad and happy but the full journey is oh so worth it. This is Clare Lydon at her best so if you haven’t read anything by this author, this is a good place to start and if you did, then, trust me you are going to love this one. 5 stars.
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.