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July 15, 2011

London Sketchbook a pictorial guide book – Six to Give Away*

by Val Reynolds

As I opened the packaging of a copy of another guide to London my thoughts were, well, Not another guide to London! Surely there must be sufficient already, a fact borne out by witnessing tourists of all nationalities armed with guides of all shapes and sizes and in a plethora of languages teeming through the London streets.

But I have to say that this one is just a little different. For a start the London Sketchbook* (see below for giveaway form) looks different, a slim hardback volume in A5 format with a delightful impression of Tower Bridge and the City on the cover. It doesn’t readily sit into a niche – it’s partly a traditional guidebook, partly a guided walks book, but what makes it stand out from the crowd are the wonderful line and wash illustrations drawn by the author Jim Watson and the very personal style of writing.

ParliamentFor him, creating this book seems to have been a labour of love; he first visited all the places he writes about and then set about drawing them with helpful annotations attached. The colours are really beautiful and all the people illustrated alongside the sights are smiling and happy!

As a seasoned Londoner who spends much of her time tramping through the capital’s street, there wasn’t that much the guide taught me – I have the Blue Guide to London for that, crammed with every fact and figure you could wish for. But as a guide, this little book would be excellent for a first-time visitor wanting to concentrate on the main attractions.

The ten areas broadly covered are

  • Central London
  • Piccadilly and St James’s
  • Whitehall and Westminster
  • South Bank to Fleet Street
  • The City, Tower of London
  • Chelsea
  • Knightsbridge
  • Bloomsbury and Marylebone

There is no mention of Camden Town with its famous market, Banglatown and the revival of London’s East End. These newly created latter attractions are interesting to visit but offer more a retail opportunity than a historical interest. But in my experience, most visitors who don’t know London come here with the express intention of seeing exactly the sights in this book. And in it they have quirky anecdotes as well as just enough facts to avoid knowledge overload.

It’s as up-to-date as any guide can be; I couldn’t help feeling that had it been written some time later, there would have been a mention of the city’s famous ‘Boris bikes’ because it’s just that sort of information it contains.Piccadilly Circus

I’ve enjoyed browsing through it in the comfort of my own flat, but I can’t wait for my first overseas visitor (I get quite a few of them) so they can discover the wonders of London with the help of this delightful little book.

London Sketchbook is published by Survival Books  and available on Amazon

To view the list of winners click here

Jeannette NelsonArts Critic
A bit of a culture vulture, Jeannette enjoys art exhibitions, cinema and classical music, but her main interest is the theatre. For several years she ran theatre discussion groups for which her MA in Modern Drama together with teaching skills stood her in good stead. She prefers to concentrate on the many off West End and fringe productions as well as that real treasure of the London theatre scene, the National.



To enter complete the form below. One entry per household. The draw will be held on 18 August 2011 so entries will be accepted up to and including 17 August 2011.

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