Saturday, July 26, 2014

Review: Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood by Julian Mash

Title: Portobello Road: Lives of a Neighbourhood
Author: Julian Mash
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Ltd.
Publish Date: July 25, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "Designed as a series of snapshots, told through the eyes of those who have lived it, this is the alternative history of a street rich in diversity, full of fascinating voices and unlikely encounters. Portobello Road and the surrounding neighbourhood is perhaps the most important source and barometer of social and cultural change in Britain over the last fifty years. Themes of slumification, gentrification, London as a melting pot, vintage fashion, independent record labels and the life and death of record shops emerge from these street-level accounts of the dealers and DJs, film-makers and fashionistas, punks, politicians, producers and poets who make the street what it is. In four sections covering the market, the music scene, the Carnival and the changing local population, Julian Mash weaves together their extraordinary stories."

My Two Cents:

"Portobello Road" is a travelogue that brings to life the sights and sounds of London's Portobello Road area. After reading this book, I know that this is an area that I would absolutely love to visit the next time I happen to be in London. This is a great collection of stories about the people and places that make up this vibrant neighborhood!

I love to travel and when I can't travel, books are definitely one of the best ways to visit a new place without leaving my favorite chair. Hurray for armchair traveling and hurray for travel writing! This book doesn't only give you a good sense of place but it gives you a good sense of people too. Mash spent many, many hours interviewing a lot of people that live and work on Portobello Road. He didn't just interview them about the place but also about some of their life stories. The care that he took in curating the interviews is definitely apparent in this book. I loved some of these stories.

The book is broken into different stories. Some of the stories cover various places along Portobello Road. Some of them cover the merchants that have made their living along the road. One of my favorite stories involves the little bookstore on Portobello Road (I know, so typical Meg). The bookstore, which is now called the Notting Hill Bookstore, was the inspiration for the adorable bookstore in the romantic comedy "Notting Hill" (ah yes, I love that movie).

Are you looking to do some good armchair traveling? Pick up this book and get to know the people and places of "Portobello Road!"



  1. I like travel writing myself. This sounds like a particularly good one

  2. I like a little armchair travelling myself. This sounds great. And it looks like an awesome read the next time i take the train to London.


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