Mother London by Michael Moorcock

For my readers in the U.S., I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. We took a quick vacation to Pittsburgh right before Thanksgiving and then had dinner with my parents. There was a bit more excitement than planned when our car got hit on the highway as we traveled to my parents’ house. No one was hurt, and we didn’t even break any dishes full of good food in the back. And now, back to our regularly scheduled book reviews:

Published: 1988

Genre: fiction

Length: 496 pages

Setting: London, 1940-1985

Interest: It was on my reading list for so long I’ve forgotten why I put it there.

Summary: We follow the adventures of three main characters, David Mummery, Josef Kiss, and Mary Gasalee, as they live through the London Blitz and into the present. Their story is told in a non-linear fashion and has various London locations as touch points. All three characters are mentally unstable and hear voices from their fellow Londoners as they move through London. For a while, Josef Kiss reads minds for a living, but his audience was always upset with his revelations. Instead, he becomes an actor and has several apartments in different London districts. David, as a young boy, is taken under Josef’s wing to deal with his voices. David becomes a freelance writer who doesn’t get too close to anyone. Mary was in a coma for 15 years after her house was bombed. She takes both Josef and David as lovers after waking up and ultimately marries Josef.

Final thoughts: The non-linear aspect to the writing makes this a difficult book to get into. However, as I read more and started to recognize recurring places and people, I really got into the story. My favorite characters were the side characters, especially the old sisters Beth and Chloe. I also wanted to learn more about Old Nonny, particularly after her closing chapter of the book. The close ties and friendships between the characters made what could have been a rather depressing book much more enjoyable.

As a random coincidence, I recently read a short story by Michael Moorcock. It also had the nonlinear storyline, but I found the story too short to get past the confusion and into the interesting part of figuring out who was talking and when. This book had plenty of time for me to figure out what was going on and want to know more. I’m not sure what the telepathy added to the story. Yes, the three main characters were seen as mad, but the voices were just snatches of internal monologues that never made any sense. Maybe that was all it was supposed to be.

Title comes from: One of the songs Josef sang (he had many) in the book mentioned Mother London. London was also the setting of the book and almost another character.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 82/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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