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This review is taken from PN Review 208, Volume 39 Number 2, November - December 2012.

Personal Vision david gentleman, London, You're Beautiful: An Artist's Year (Penguin) £20.00

In his Introduction, David Gentleman explains the nature of this delightful tribute to London. Unlike David Gentleman's London, his beautifully drawn coffee-table book of 1985, this modest (though substantial) paperback is the 'diary of a year: a sketchbook full of new pictures, new impressions of a familiar city, made after I set myself the task of looking again at my surroundings, capturing how London has changed and how it has stayed the same'. The result is an affectionate record of the city in all its 'variety, individuality and character', its river and canals, its unspoiled parks and Georgian squares, its crowded markets, its neighbourhoods, its striking architectural contrasts, its extraordinarily diverse people.

I too have what I sometimes think is a perverse love of London, seen in panorama from the top of Parliament Hill or up close from the top of the 24 bus, from the vulgar displays of Camden Town to the gleaming new University Hospital towering over the heavy traffic of Euston Road, down collegiate Gower Street, the neo-classical façade of University College on the left, the pseudo-Gothic red-brick maze of the old University Hospital on the right, past the tinker-toy fantasy of Central Saint Giles, along the Charing Cross Road, a few second-hand bookshops still surviving alongside Chinese massage parlours, to Trafalgar Square and the imperial glories of the fountains and lions, with the fake pantomime statues and buskers hawking in front of the National Gallery, much to the distress of the Director. These ...


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