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The West End Front : The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels by Matthew Sweet

The West End Front : The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels

Biography / Autobiography   History   
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Sue Baker's view...

Once walking down the Strand I looked through the peephole to a building site and there in the uncovered foundations was the entrance to an underground WWII shelter, I guessed it must lead to The Savoy, a small tantalising glimpse into its wartime history so well described here. The wartime secrets reveal crime and insurrection, royalty and celebrity, prostitutes and politicians, spies and military leaders. I know that Matthew Sweet has been criticised for including so many strands and characters in his but for me this made the book - I would read anything by Matthew Sweet, he has a unique style and in seeking out the people who can help flesh out his story, adds tremendously to the narrative providing detail and facts that most writers would surely miss.

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How We Lived Then, A History of Everyday Life during the Second World War, Norman Longmate, Paperback 592 pages Pimlico 4th July 2002 9780712668323
Inventing the Victorians, Matthew Sweet

Who is Sue Baker


The West End Front : The Wartime Secrets of London's Grand Hotels by Matthew Sweet

Spies: Meet Marie-Jacqueline Lancaster, the woman from M15 who has the gravy browning licked from her legs by Dylan Thomas.

Royals: Meet Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, born in a suite at Claridge's that was declared Yugoslav territory for the night.

Players: Meet Joyce Stone, whose husband leads the band at the Dorchester, keeping dancers foxtrotting even as the shudders of bombardments penetrate the sound-proofed walls of the hotel.

West End Front is a witty and eye-opening account of the extraordinary events that unfolded under the reinforced ceilings of London's grand hotels.


‘Sweet turns a quizzical eye on the London socialites determined that their high life
should continue undisturbed...gloriously gossipy stories’ The Times

‘As addictive as a box of chocolates...beautifully written, intricately detailed, and
marvellously quirky throughout.’ Scotsman

‘Sweet combines nostalgic whimsy and gossipy flourishes with impressive sleuthing’
Daily Express

‘A scandalously enjoyable account ... Delightfully gossipy and often moving, it
shines an affectionate search-light on an entirely forgotten chapter of World War
Two.’ Mark Gattis

About the Author

Matthew Sweet

Matthew Sweet presents Night Waves and Freethinking on BBC Radio 3, and is the summer presenter of The Film Programme on Radio Four. He is the author of Inventing the Victorians and Shepperton Babylon, which he adapted as a film for BBC Four. His TV programmes include Silent Britain, A Brief History of Fun, The Age of Excess, Truly, Madly, Cheaply and The Rules of Film Noir.

Author photo © Lisa Bowerman

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Book Info

Publication date

7th June 2012


Matthew Sweet

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Faber and Faber


384 pages


Biography / Autobiography

Second World War

20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Social & cultural history



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