Welcome to the George Inn near London Bridge: a cosy, wood-panelled, galleried coaching house a few minutes' walk from the Thames. Consider this: who else has made this their local over the last 600 years? Chaucer and his fellow pilgrims almost certainly drank in the George on their way to Canterbury. Shakespeare may have popped in from the nearby Globe, and we know that Dickens definitely did. Mail carriers changed their horses here, while sailors drank here before sailing.
The pub, as Pete Brown points out, is the 'primordial cell of British life' and in the George he has found the perfect case study. All life is here, from murderers, highwaymen and ladies of the night to gossiping pedlars and hard-working clerks. So sit back and enjoy a tour through six centuries of history, through the stories of everyone that ever drank in one pub.
Would you listen to Shakespeare's Local: Six Centuries of History, One Pub again? Why?
I've thoroughly enjoyed previous works by Pete Brown, and though I do appreciate Architecture, I did not expect to find a story about a building to be as compelling as was Shakespeare's Local. I do, without a doubt, love a good pint, so when the time comes to travel to the UK, The George will certainly rank high on my short list of landmarks to visit.
What other book might you compare Shakespeare's Local: Six Centuries of History, One Pub to and why?
Pete Brown writes with a distinctive style, so to compare, I'd have to say Hops and Glory! by none other than Pete Brown. Tales of interesting people (don't be surprised when Dickens shows up) that weave through compelling histories (the fortunate and the less than) and always with a tasty thread that binds (beer).
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I certainly laughed. Many times. I winced a bit too but never cried.
Any additional comments?
Thanks again to Pete Brown for surprising me in a most entertaining way. And thanks also, to Cameron Stewart for a reading that does the story justice!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I generally like specific histories like this but this one fell flat. Two major problems: first, Shakespeare is hardly a focus of the book, he's barely mentioned; second, I haven't been to London in more than a decade, so I don't really know where he's talking about most of the time.
The story would have worked better for me if he had connected the information to more familiar books, plays or histories that someone one this side of the pond would know. Or I'm an unlettered fool who doesn't know her Dickens well enough to care about the references Brown makes to his books. I would have been more comfortable with more connection to Shakespeare, Chaucer and Austen.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful