London Literary Locations: Saturday

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 97 months ago
London Literary Locations: Saturday
"'[Robert] Adam would have been stunned by the ugliness of that glass thing. No human scale. No grace, no warmth.'" p.197
"'[Robert] Adam would have been stunned by the ugliness of that glass thing. No human scale. No grace, no warmth.'" p.197
"...the building at the foot of the Post Office Tower - less ugly these days with its aluminium entrance, blue cladding and geometric masses of windows and ventilation grilles looking like a Mondrian." p.78
"...the building at the foot of the Post Office Tower - less ugly these days with its aluminium entrance, blue cladding and geometric masses of windows and ventilation grilles looking like a Mondrian." p.78
"where Fitzroy becomes Charlotte Street, the neighbourhood is packed with penny-pinching office blocks and student accommodation - ill-fitting windows, low ambition, not lasting well." p.78
"where Fitzroy becomes Charlotte Street, the neighbourhood is packed with penny-pinching office blocks and student accommodation - ill-fitting windows, low ambition, not lasting well." p.78
"Cleveland Street used to be known for garment sweatshops and prostitutes. Now it has Greek, Turkish and Italian restaurants." p.76
"Cleveland Street used to be known for garment sweatshops and prostitutes. Now it has Greek, Turkish and Italian restaurants." p.76
Perowne and his family live on the north side of Fitzroy Square: "above him the chandelier's glass pendants tinkle and chime to the vibrations of the Victoria line tube train far beneath the house slowing into Warren Street station." p.65
Perowne and his family live on the north side of Fitzroy Square: "above him the chandelier's glass pendants tinkle and chime to the vibrations of the Victoria line tube train far beneath the house slowing into Warren Street station." p.65
Fitzroy Square: "That particular façade is a reconstruction, a pastiche... and right behind is the Post Office Tower, municipal and seedy by day, but at night, half-concealed and decently illuminated, a valiant memorial to more optimistic days." p.4
Fitzroy Square: "That particular façade is a reconstruction, a pastiche... and right behind is the Post Office Tower, municipal and seedy by day, but at night, half-concealed and decently illuminated, a valiant memorial to more optimistic days." p.4
Warren Street: "Only the flute shop...
Warren Street: "Only the flute shop...
"Gower Street a few blocks away to the east is one of the starting points for the march." p.61
"Gower Street a few blocks away to the east is one of the starting points for the march." p.61
"the orderly grid of medical streets west of Portland Place - private clinics and chintzy waiting rooms... It is faith, as powerful as any religion, that brings people to Harley Street." p.123
"the orderly grid of medical streets west of Portland Place - private clinics and chintzy waiting rooms... It is faith, as powerful as any religion, that brings people to Harley Street." p.123
"it's still possible to see a makeshift bookstall and a hot-dog stand, cheekily set up right outside McDonald's on the corner." p.72
"it's still possible to see a makeshift bookstall and a hot-dog stand, cheekily set up right outside McDonald's on the corner." p.72
... and newsagent are open...
... and newsagent are open...
... Outside the Rive Gauche traiteur, the owner is using a zinc bucket to sluice down the pavement, Parisian-style." p.73
... Outside the Rive Gauche traiteur, the owner is using a zinc bucket to sluice down the pavement, Parisian-style." p.73
"The long line of tourists - teenagers mostly - outside Madame Tussaud's seems less futile than usual." p.153
"The long line of tourists - teenagers mostly - outside Madame Tussaud's seems less futile than usual." p.153
Perowne's first meeting with Baxter: "Here on University Street it's impossible not to feel that play-acting is about to begin." p.86
Perowne's first meeting with Baxter: "Here on University Street it's impossible not to feel that play-acting is about to begin." p.86

OK, so Ian McEwan's Saturday tends to split readers over whether they find it a brilliant work of detailed insight or a somewhat pretentious, but nobody can deny it's a great choice for spotting bits of London in fiction. Set mostly around a tight chunk of Fitzrovia (with a few temporary deviations to Marylebone and west London), it allows us to wander some of central London's quieter streets, and McEwan's sharp prose really nails these corners.

The book itself is set on 15 February 2003, the day of the mass protest against the Iraq War, though the march only impacts indirectly on events. Much like our first location shoot, it covers a day in the life of its central character, surgeon Henry Perowne - a day that should have been a happy family reunion, but a chance meeting in University Street causes it to take a darker turn.

(All page numbers refer to the Vintage edition of Saturday; images author's own.)


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Last Updated 08 April 2010