Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mother London” as Want to Read:
Mother London
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Mother London

(London Novels #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  538 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Three hospital outpatients all find that they hear voices - the voices of London's past. As they explore the city of their present day, they also explore its recent past and its forgotten people. Through the lives of those on the fringe of society, we learn what it is like - and what it has always been like - to live in the great, sprawling, polyphonic, multicoloured capit ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published January 5th 2004 by Scribner (first published February 13th 1988)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mother London, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mother London

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Magician's Nephew by C.S. LewisThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerUncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher StoweWives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
1,095 books — 105 voters
Harriet the Spy by Louise FitzhughGone Girl by Gillian FlynnThe Woman in White by Wilkie CollinsThe Girl on the Train by Paula HawkinsThe Princess Bride by William Goldman
Feminine Titles
310 books — 8 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  538 ratings  ·  49 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: london
Slightly mixed feelings... love the prose. Feel like I could read it forever... as I did when I read King of the City.

But King of the City had a very good plot, this was slightly lacking in plot... definitely had an amazing narrative drive. However, the non-linear narrative, whilst ultimately rewarding, did take a long while to pull one in, as the characters themselves aren't as compelling, its what happens (or happened) to them that makes them so, and in some cases we didn't find out what that
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A deeply humane and thoroughly wonderful novel that enters into the mind of London itself through a host of eccentric and compelling characters. Moorcock is best known for his science fiction but he should just be recognised as one of England's best living novelists. A beautifully done time traveling structure and a great literary conceit to delve into the streams of consciousness of London's inhabitants.
Mick Finlay
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful and fascinating.
Simon Mcleish
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in August 2001.

Much of Moorcock's fiction is set in London, and Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove in particular are home to many of his characters, including Jerry Cornelius and Maxim Pyat (in old age). This novel is a celebration of the city over a period roughly corresponding to Moorcock's own lifetime, from the blitz to the book's publication.

The novel tells its story in a very fragmentary way, with chapters not at all in chronological order (though they hel
Jonathan Norton
Jun 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
Utterly tedious parade of instantly-forgettable characters that listlessly drifts back and forth over London history 1940-90, without alighting on a single interesting thought, observation, or sentence. There may well be an inner matrix of connections between the lines of narrative, linked around the telepathic figure of Joseph Kiss, but I just couldn't care less. Relentlessly trite riffing on how the new money of the 80s was bad, and the counterculture were fakes who sold out quickly, and the B ...more
The characters and settings in this book stay with me.. they come to mind on unexpected occasions just a glimpse and I realise how, even though this book frustrated my need for a clear, narrative novel.. it gave me much more than I thought.
One of my favorite books.
Francis Cook
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
All Moorcock's (more serious) memes and themes contribute to this vast conurbation of an historical (not necessarily in the usual order) epic. It's consistent with it's subject and as I grew up in the 70's and lived in London at the close of that era it really resounds. But he's such a good crafter of words you don't need this background to appreciate this work of art.. for once Moorcock's 'mise-en-scène' is virtually flawless and the old whore that is the real London beneath all the plastic par ...more
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 500-plus
Somewhere between 50-100 pages too long, but otherwise pretty marvellous. Manic and expansive and overflowing with other descriptors, a cacophony, plenty of it no doubt contradictory. The perfect book for a city, really.
Damian Leverton
If you know and love London you will find this somewhat fantastical story of the city both charming and amusing. Be prepared for some fantasy that betray the authors roots.
Tom Hudak
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Good in parts but also a bit of a slog with too much connective prose necessitated by the time shifts.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderful. Want to read this again one day as there is so much wonderful detail and description.
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
I think I was expecting more, certainly something different. This isnt' sci-fi or fantasy, it's more a paean to London, which didn't move me as much as it might other readers. Some nicely written passages, but overall I doubt I'd read again.
Rachel Stevenson
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Three Londoners: an eccentric actor, an anxious writer and a woman who became a widow aged 16, travel through time and space, from 1940 to 1988, from Kensal Green to Fleet Street via Putney, Hampstead, Ludgate Hill, Baker Street, Kew, Ladbroke Grove, Clerkenwell, and, um, Mitcham. The three are linked even before they officially meet, as they spend their time in pubs, on buses, in group therapy for the voices that they hear. For all three are psychic, mesmerists, future-predictors – or maybe jus ...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
PEARLY KING OF PIMLICO. PEARLY QUEEN OF DALSTON. Their proud, knowing, friendly faces look no different from the gypsies, the travellers, the first settlers who returned to London after the desolation, drifting in from all the compass points, bringing their carts to market, some to settle, some to stay on the outskirts and grow lavender; some to put down roots in Kent and plant orchard; horse people from India to found the New Troy, powerful kings and queens, arrogant creators of cities and dyna ...more
Peter Pinkney
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this when it first came out, but I didn't really know London that well at the time. Since then I spent six years living in London, so I was able to relate to it much more-indeed I have walked many of the areas mentioned.
I love Michael Moorcock, he is probably my second favourite author. My favourite being Dickens, and this book is very Dickensian with its descriptions of London, and the fantastic characters.
Moorcock deserves great praise for writing strong women characters, and for writi
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
At first I was waiting for a plotline that never came. As the book unfolded I began to realise that I was submerged within a collage of London's social history, a collage crafted by a writer who quite obciously knows the place intimitely. We follow, in short episodes, a small band of characters, jumping between the decades at random as we watch their lives intersect against the shifting tapestry of a city at first wounded, and then scarred but resurgent.

This focus on character is one of the boo
Benjamin Kahn
This book was fitfully amusing. I gave up on it around page 194. It was a little too disjointed, dealing with the same characters but jumping back and forth between different years, from the 1940s to the 1980s. I would read one chapter and get into it and enjoy it and then have to totally readjust for the next chapter. There was a strong sense of nostalgia for a past London, and the whole book is really a love letter to London. Since I'm not that interested in London, that left only the story wh ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a sort of biography of multiple characters as their lives in london interact. On a minor note all of the characters suffer from mental issues due to being psychic. I say this is a minor note as being a bit psychic certainly hasn't done any of them any good and doesn't play a very large role in the story.
Its very well written with very well rounded characters. I will say i did occasionally get confused amongst some of the minor characters, the story jumps back and forth through time a lo
Chris Page
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
That was the second time I've read Mother London and I believe I'll read it again some day.
Although marooned in another part of the world, I consider myself a London person in the core, and Moorcock's vision of the city coincides with mine.
London is a city with myth and improbability and thousands of years of history locked up in its stone and concrete and beneath the streets. This history, this myth radiates; it oozes from the sooty pores. London has a powerful and real aura, which for a pers
Shannon Appelcline
This book gives a vivid impression of London rather wonderfully spread out across the decades from the '40s to '80s. Unlike many of Moorcock's New Wave books this one does have some continuity, even if it's massively disordered. Still, I found it hard to love because there's so little plot, which made it a bit of a plod at times.
Not the usual Moorcock fare so don't be expecting Elric or the like. Good novel which would be of interest to those who live in London or know it well. The story follows a cast of a few main characters over along period of the twentieth century but it jumps back and forward in time and from charcter to character which put me off a bit. Still a solid read and 3 ***
Elizabeth Hunter
Sep 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: uncat
In many ways, this is not a novel, but a collection of vignettes and stories about a connected set of people. The three main characters are all telepathic receivers and the mental ramblings they perceive punctuate the text in italic non sequiturs. The story, as such, is about these three and the people they intersect with, in the years of the Blitz and after, up through the 70s.
Christopher Riley
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not so much a straight-forward story, but rather a portrait of 20th century London shot through the kaleidoscopic fractured minds of three beautiful characters that you can't help but feel close to. At times very moving. The chapter where Josef Kiss is called upon to rescue two sisters from a blitz bombed cottage is one of the most delightful I've ever read.
Jul 17, 2016 rated it liked it
There is some great writing in this book, and the reader gets a good feel for the city of London. The episodes dealing with the Blitz are especially impressive. However there is little terms of plot, and the book is perhaps overlong when viewed a character study.
Oct 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is my second time of reading, the first being in '92, and I found it just as oddly fascinating as the first time. A collection of people who all need mental therapy of one kind or another and how they interact with each other.
Tome Addiction
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
What can I say about this book, oh yes, written by Michael Moorcock. If you are familiar with him I need say no more, if you are not then you might want to know most of his stuff reads like your on acid and live in the 60's.
Martin Fautley
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If stories of Gog, Magog, Boudicea, and old London are in the blood, then this book will find them. London is more than a place here, it is a character in its own right. Temporally challenging, non-linear narrative, interweaving histories, this is a book for readers.
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Odd Londoners and the city as an organism…I think. Might make more sense on a second read. Not one of MMs fantasy stories, though there are elements of the strange these are downplayed to show the wonder of the mundane. It drips with nostalgia. I found it quite bittersweet.
Jul 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Not the home town I knew...
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ascent
  • Hello Summer, Goodbye
  • A Glastonbury Romance
  • The Influence
  • The Old Men at the Zoo
  • Bold as Love (Bold as Love, #1)
  • The End of the World News
  • After London: or, Wild England
  • The Victorian Chaise Longue
  • Red Shift
  • The Night Sessions
  • Darkmans (Thames Gateway, #3)
  • Wieland, or, The Transformation
  • Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation
  • Millennium People
  • The Coming Race
  • Ingenious Pain
  • Rogue Moon
See similar books…
Michael John Moorcock is an English writer primarily of science fiction and fantasy who has also published a number of literary novels.
Moorcock has mentioned The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Apple Cart by George Bernard Shaw and The Constable of St. Nicholas by Edward Lester Arnold as the first three books which captured his imagination. He became editor of Tarzan Adventures in 1956,

Other books in the series

London Novels (2 books)
  • King of the City
“By means of our myths and legends we maintain a sense of what we are worth and who we are. Without them we should undoubtedly go mad.” 12 likes
More quotes…