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Chapter 5 - Christmas in London (or how I spent my Christmas vacation.)

I won't say it has always been a dream of mine but really since I first saw Love Actually in 2003 with all its scenes of London at Christmastime, it has been on my mind. This year Dave and I left North Myrtle Beach for a Christmas in London. It was truly all I dreamed of and, if you ever have the chance, I recommend it highly.

Each neighborhood in central London was strung with its own lights (see photo). Christmas Markets were in every square - Trafalgar, Leicester, Piccadilly, and Covent Gardens as well as across Westminster Bridge and near the London Eye. We went to Christmas services in Westminster Abbey and attended two West End shows. We went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, the Churchill War Rooms, St. Paul's Cathedral, and, of course, the Charles Dickens House.

While all this was amazing, the best part for me was seeing places I have read about in books, places like Selfridges, Mayfair, Regency Street, and seeing people mudlarking along the Thames. Here are some great books which take place in London and which I've really enjoyed.

The Mitford Affair by Marie Benedict - I mentioned this book a few weeks ago and now that is has been released, you really should read it. The Mitford sisters were a force to be reckoned with and since most of the book centers in London it was a perfect read for our London trip.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner - This book starts out with a woman mudlarking along the Thames and finding a strange antique bottle. I'd never heard of the practice but we certainly saw mudlarkers when we were in London. In past history the Thames was used as a repository of people's trash. Today mudlarkers find all sorts of antiques. One must have a permit and report anything over 300 years old to mudlark but it makes for a terrific start of a story!

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding - Fielding captured all the angst of a 30-something singleton in London. The book is funny, irreverent, hopeful, and just a terrific read. The movie was very good too with great London Christmas scenes.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff - The protagonists of this book, a writer from New York and a bookseller from London form a friendship via letters because of their love of books. While as a bookstore 84, Charing Cross Road doesn't actually exist, our hotel was within walking distance of Charing Cross station.

London by Edward Rutherfurd - While a tome at 1151 pages (paperback version), this book spans 16 centuries from the times of the Romans, to the Victorians, to present day. Rutherfurd's cast of characters are a true delight and the descriptions of London will make you want to visit.

The Mayfair Bookshop: A Novel of Nancy Mitford and the Pursuit of Happiness by Eliza Knight - Going back and forth between the 1930's and today, the story here revolves around a young woman moving to London as a book curator. Arriving with a first edition Nancy Mitford book that has a curious inscription, Lucy St. Clair finds that her life and Nancy's just might intertwine a bit.

Do you have any London books you'd like to share? Please let me know. In the meantime here are some pictures from our trip.


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