What was it like living in London and going about one's business as the American War of Independence raged across the Atlantic? This diverting and exquisitely produced chronicle shows us exactly how it was, capturing daily life through diaries, letters, newspaper reports and 370 contemporary illustrations. Among the events it describes are riots at Drury Lane Theatre, the fashion for elaborate head-dresses as it reaches new heights, and cricket played on skates on the frozen Thames.
Lovill embraces the background noise of events as they unfold in 768 pages, without the thorough smoothing out that historical narrative brings. [...] Lovill admits there is a disadvantage in reading strands of stories conveyed intermittently, but claims that the higgledy-piggledy method results in a more lively canvas. I like it. It takes the reader closer to the accents and assumptions of the day. After all, the Londoners of 1776 did not know how things would turn out. [...] Of course, there are resonances with today, but what makes this an excellent book is that the contents were chosen by someone with deep knowledge of London at the time, and conveyed with a readability that cuts to the chase of its 18th-century sources. It’s a world tremendously enjoyable to be immersed in. I look forward to 1777.