The best books about London and love

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author and a romantic. Put the two together and it makes sense for me to write love stories. I’ve always been interested in relationships and fascinated by how complex our feelings make us when we fall in love. There’s a love story in all my books, but for the last three novels, a love story has been the story. I’m a Londoner too, and I like it when a city becomes another character in a book, as I hope London has in The Central Line.


I wrote...

The Central Line

By Saskia Sarginson,

Book cover of The Central Line

What is my book about?

A novel that is set in and celebrates present-day London; each chapter heading is a tube stop on the Central Line. Cora and Jacob live at opposite ends of the Line. When a chance meeting on the underground brings them together, they fall for each other. But forging a relationship is fraught with difficulties; not only is Cora more than ten years older than Jacob, but her grown-up daughter, Fran, an unhappy would-be actress, also falls for him. Jacob lives on a narrow boat, and seems to have a simple, successful life, but he has a dark secret – a long-held guilt that keeps him an emotional prisoner. This is a novel about London, families, guilt, loss, love, and the healing power of forgiveness. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Bridget Jones's Diary

Saskia Sarginson Why did I love this book?

A 90s classic. Written in the form of a personal diary, this is a warm, funny read about the 30-something, lovable, weight-obsessed, accident-prone Bridget, who lives alone in London. She’s reached the age when everyone is partnering up and friends and family want to know when she’s going to get married. She faithfully records her calorie-counting, excesses of wine and too many ciggies, her gossip with friends, and her attempts to forget the infuriatingly stuffy and elusive Mr. Right, otherwise known as Mr. Darcy, while having a fun relationship with Mr. Wrong, otherwise known as Daniel Cleaver, her boss. She also stumbles through several career faux pas, on her way to finding her perfect job. This book cheered me up at a difficult time in my life.

By Helen Fielding,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Bridget Jones's Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The multi-million copy number one Bestseller

A dazzlingly urban satire on modern relationships?
An ironic, tragic insight into the demise of the nuclear family?
Or the confused ramblings of a pissed thirty-something?

As Bridget documents her struggles through the social minefield of her thirties and tries to weigh up the eternal question (Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy?), she turns for support to four indispensable friends: Shazzer, Jude, Tom and a bottle of chardonnay.

Welcome to Bridget's first diary: mercilessly funny, endlessly touching and utterly addictive.

Helen Fielding's first Bridget Jones novel, Bridget Jones's Diary, sparked a phenomenon that has seen…


Book cover of The End of the Affair

Saskia Sarginson Why did I love this book?

I have read this book several times, and always find more in it. Maurice Bendrix looks back on his four-year passionate affair with married Sarah Miles. But when she drops him, after a near-miss with an exploding bomb, his obsession turns to hate, and he agonises over what went wrong. Set in 1940s South London, in the Blitz, this is one of Greene’s Catholic novels and there are many one-sided conversations with God, as Bendrix questions his own behaviour, who Sarah really is, and the meaning of love and its place in the world. It is set in a part of London that I know very well and it’s fascinating to be able to picture the places he’s writing about, imagining them as they would have been in the 40s.

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The End of the Affair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY MONICA ALI

The love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession.


Book cover of Ordinary People: A Novel

Saskia Sarginson Why did I love this book?

This is a slow-burn of a novel about two couples. Each character struggles to maintain their marriage under the pressure of children and modern life. Each tries to hold on to their own identity while existing inside a family. The novel looks at mental health, infidelity, cooking, and Black culture; it has a soundtrack, with songs that mean something to the characters and capture the essence of the time. The story is resonant with images of modern London. It asks a question about the centrality of the city and the anxiety that comes from leaving it.

By Diana Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ordinary People as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hailed as a "lyrical and glorious writer; a precise poet of the human heart" (Naomi Alderman), London-based author Diana Evans received international acclaim for Ordinary People. In a crooked house in South London, Melissa feels increasingly that she's defined solely by motherhood, while Michael mourns the thrill of their romance. In the suburbs, Stephanie's aspirations for bliss on the commuter belt compound Damian's itch for a bigger life. Longtime friends from the years when passion seemed permanent, the couples have stayed in touch, gathering for births and anniversaries. But as bonds fray, the lines once clearly marked by wedding bands…


Book cover of Expectation: A Novel

Saskia Sarginson Why did I love this book?

I fell in love with this beautifully written book about female friendship, set-in modern-day London. The opening shows us three young women lounging in London Fields one summer, all of them filled with an indisputable sense that they are on the brink of life, their horizons lit up with promise. Ten years later, those promises have failed to materialize. The characters are confused, struggling, and envious of what each of the others has. All three are strong, flawed characters, and their lives, choices, and mistakes feel very real and poignant.

By Anna Hope,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Expectation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE MUST-READ SUMMER 2020 RICHARD AND JUDY BOOK CLUB PICK

'If you wished Normal People had tackled female friendship, try Expectation' GRAZIA
'Profoundly intelligent and humane. Deserves to feature on many a prize shortlist' GUARDIAN
'A brilliant exploration of friendship, feminism and thwarted ambition' PANDORA SYKES
______________________

What happened to the women we were supposed to become?

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry - and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They…


Book cover of Free Love

Saskia Sarginson Why did I love this book?

It's 1969, Phyllis is married to a kind man, with two children and a large house in suburban London. Her domestic world is not far removed from a dutiful 50s housewife’s. Then a much younger man, dashing, selfish, and a family friend, kisses her in a dark garden, and her life explodes. She abandons her family and moves to a shabby flat in Ladbroke Grove. A new world opens to her – she meets people of colour, artists, activists, drinkers, and idealists. She experiences sexual freedom and romantic love. Phyllis’s teenage daughter joins her in her new life, and mother and daughter must work out a different kind of relationship. I found myself feeling furious with Phyllis at the same time as emphasising with her.

By Tessa Hadley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Free Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Tessa Hadley recruits admirers with each book. She writes with authority, and with delicacy: she explores nuance, but speaks plainly; she is one of those writers a reader trusts.”—Hilary Mantel

From the bestselling author of Late in the Day and The Past comes a compulsive new novel about one woman’s sexual and intellectual awakening in 1960s London.

1967. While London comes alive with the new youth revolution, the suburban Fischer family seems to belong to an older world of conventional stability: pretty, dutiful homemaker Phyllis is married to Roger, a devoted father with a career in the Foreign Office. Their…


You might also like...

Conditions are Different After Dark

By Owen W. Knight,

Book cover of Conditions are Different After Dark

Owen W. Knight Author Of The Visitors

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Visionary Compassionate Imaginative Conspiracist Apophenia (or apophenic)

Owen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In 1662, a man is wrongly executed for signing the death warrant of Charles I. Awaiting execution, he asks to speak with a priest, to whom he declares a curse on the village that betrayed him. The priest responds with a counter-curse, leaving just one option to nullify it.

Over four centuries later, Faith and James move to the country to start a new life and a family. They discover their village lives under the curse uttered by the hanged man. Could their arrival be connected? They fear their choice of new home is no coincidence. Unexplained events hint at threats or warnings to leave. They become convinced the village remains cursed despite their friends’ denials. Who can they trust, and who are potential enemies?

Conditions are Different After Dark

By Owen W. Knight,

What is this book about?

In 1660, a man is wrongly executed for signing the death warrant of Charles I. While awaiting execution, he asks to speak with a priest, to whom he declares a curse on the village that betrayed him. The priest responds with a counter-curse, leaving just one option to nullify it.
Over four centuries later, Faith and James move to the country to start a new life and a family. They learn that their village lives under the curse uttered by the hanged man. Could their arrival be connected?
Faith and James fear that their choice of a new home is…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in love triangle, presidential biography, and romantic love?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about love triangle, presidential biography, and romantic love.

Love Triangle Explore 74 books about love triangle
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography
Romantic Love Explore 852 books about romantic love