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The Life of Riley-bookcover

By: Sharon Plant

The Life of Riley

Pages: 232 Ratings: 5.0
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Set in the backstreets of North London in the early 1900s, The Life of Riley is drawn from the diary of Lily Plant, the author’s grandmother. Combining fiction with meticulous research into the landscape of London in this period, the author has painted a colourful and moving tale of poverty and love, alcoholism and kindness. This is a world in which families live in two rooms, four families share a house and hunger is the norm. This is the story of Ray Riley, from childhood to adult life. It will make you laugh, and probably make you cry, and it will make you realise how lucky you are.

Sharon is a writer and painter with 30 years' experience in the arts. She established London's innovative gallery, Aspects; was a founding figure of the New Designers Exhibition; Festival Coordinator for the London Design Festival and Director of The Sorrell Foundation. She has lectured at five of the University of Arts London colleges and organised exhibitions for the Royal College of Art. Her lectures to architectural practices discuss the benefits of interdisciplinary creativity and in particular The Colour of Sound

Customer Reviews
3 reviews
3 reviews
  • Harry Fellows LOVES this book

    It is not often I start a book and cannot put it down - for anything! And I almost never laugh out loud or cry when reading a book - but this time I did. The story draws you in, puts you in their world and you can feel their lives and what north London was like in the early 1900s. The story grips you without ever being over the top. It feels so real. I should warn you also that it contains the funniest joke I have read in years! I have not enjoyed and been so fully immersed in a book for decades. I would throughly recommend it.

  • Meena Watts

    I Loved this book! So easy to connect to the characters, The London we know and love today as it was in 1900 very well researched, well edited, historical, and of course the author's family connection make it an excellent read. Emotional, sad, honest, consequences of poverty, funny and all the human emotions kept me connected right to the end. This family story is ripe to be transformed into a film or TV series as it is so very visual.

  • Julia Wilson

    The Life Of Riley by Sharon Plant is a marvellous historical novel that is both educating and eye opening.
    The novel is set during the first quarter on the twentieth century as we follow Ray Riley from a six year old to a married man. The story is fictional but the locations in London are accurate of conditions at the time.
    Poverty in the early twentieth century was rife. Sharon Plant has perfectly captured the squalor and the desperation, as the reader hears of rodent infested rooms with water running down the walls.
    We see the effect of poverty and the feeling of hopelessness on lives as wages are often spent in the pub rather than putting food on the table. Ill tempers often see wives sporting black eyes.
    Living in poverty means families cannot always afford to look after their own children and they send them away to live with richer relatives. This really resonated with me as after my Nanny’s mother died in 1894. She was given to an uncle and aunt to be looked after and her baby brother given to the neighbours. The other six children stayed in the family home.
    World War I devastated lives already blighted by poverty as families sent husbands and sons off to war and not all returned.

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