Explore London’s ‘other’ world in fanciful ‘Neverwhere’

Explore London’s ‘other’ world in fanciful ‘Neverwhere’

Explore London’s ‘other’ world in fanciful ‘Neverwhere’(July 9, 2024) — If you’ve never read Neil Gaiman, “Neverwhere” is a fine place to start. Gaiman is that rare author who can captivate any reader, of any age, who recognizes and appreciates a master storyteller.

While away for a weekend, the only promising book at my Airbnb was Gaiman’s “Neverwhere.” Because it was a busy weekend, I was only 100 pages into it when I left. I bought a copy at SFO. It was money and time well spent.

Gaiman believed his original text, written as a screenplay for BBC television, was better suited as a novel. The author’s introduction is a must read. If you’ve never been to London, you’ll want a Post-it on the map of the London Underground and a rendering of what’s beneath it.

“Neverwhere” is a story of getting lost. And a story of getting found.

Foreshadowing

We meet Richard Mayhew in Ireland at his farewell party the night before he leaves for London and his future in the financial world. It’s not without some foreshadowing – indicating life in London might not be everything Richard expected. Shortly after that, we meet a pair of very strangely formidable characters.

With his map of the London Underground, Richard acclimates himself to the complex city that exists above ground. He’s further helped by his girlfriend Jessica, who introduces him to the theatre, museums, art galleries and the proper clothing for a young man on his way up. Is this who he really wants to be? He thinks so.

While on their way to a function where Richard is to meet Jessica’s very influential boss, they come upon a young woman who had been attacked and left bleeding on the sidewalk. They were late. Someone else can help her. But that someone is Richard. His life is about to change.

Who is this young woman? Who attacked her? And why? Is she just another street person? We now remember the foreshadowing, the strange men. Has Richard put his life in danger by helping her? Will Jessica forgive him for leaving her to meet her boss without him?

Wonderful characters

Fantasy novels are not my favorites, but how can you pass up a book with such wonderful characters? And can we believe there really is a world beneath the London Underground?

Richard’s life is now in great danger from those who are after the girl, those who live above and below the Underground. The girl has a key she must safeguard with her life, a life becoming dear to Richard.

Fantastical characters: evil, good, funny, scary, deceitful and even kind. And a plot that, with all its twists and turns, never loses sight of Richard’s struggle to find himself. As otherworldly as the characters may be, feathered, scaled, masked, winged, they all force Richard to question his strengths and goals. Does he want the life he once sought, Jessica’s monied world, or a life to challenge his mind and heart?

Visit Sunny Solomon’s website at bookinwithsunny.com for her latest recommendations or just to ‘talk books.’

Sunny Solomon
Sunny Solomon
Freelance writer at Clayton Book Club | Website

Sunny Solomon holds an MA in English/Creative Writing, San Francisco State University. She is a book reviewer for “The Clayton Pioneer” and her poetry and other writing has been published in literary journals, one chapbook, In the Company of Hope and the collection, Six Poets Sixty-six Poems. She was the happy manager of Bonanza Books, Clayton, CA and Clayton Books, Clayton, CA. She continues to moderate a thriving book club that survived the closure of the store from which it began. Sunny currently lives next to the Truckee in Reno, NV.

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