An evocative historical thriller based in one of London's original suburbs.
Set in 1912, Bedford Park is not just a London suburb: it is a crucible for enlightenment and modernity inhabited by people who wish to better themselves - and those who should know better. It is a singular place, architecturally sidestepping the modern whilst encouraging those with new ideas to take up residence.
Into this mix sails Cal Kidd from America. In a coffee-house he makes the acquaintance of Binks, a man whose occupation in the City is vague but he seems to know everybody. And so Cal meets real-life characters like Maud Gonne and Frank Harris, while Ford Madox Ford, W.B. Yeats and Joseph Conrad appear also. Then Binks is gruesomely murdered, and after never really having to deal with anything in his life, Cal the observer now has to act.
The spirit of the age is what makes BEDFORD PARK so evocative, a time when everyone tries to invoke the future but often looks to the past to achieve it. Among the host of vivid characters, the greatest is London itself, a city in a constant state of flux whose centre is journalism. All the detail makes the place exotic and exciting - the marathon at the Olympics in 1908, a ride on the Flip Flap in White City, news being chalked up on dock walls for those who couldn't afford papers, a woman peeling potatoes in the Biosphere cinema in Bishopsgate. London has to comment instantly upon itself or be commented upon, always new and important.
BEDFORD PARK is a witty and erudite historical novel, set mostly in London in the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras ... It is also a brilliantly lively, often very funny reconstruction of a lost world of artistic endeavour and social idealism through which Appleyard's American abroad wanders in a fruitless search for his true self - SUNDAY TIMES
There are great writers and there are great arts writers - and then there's Bryan Appleyard. He's both
Appleyard is scientifically literate, vigorous and intelligent ... essential reading - OBSERVER
Bryan Appleyard is our foremost guide to understanding contemporary culture. This exploration of what it means to be human today grips the reader from the front page
Bryan Appleyard is that rarest of birds, a journalist who can mine factual subjects for their poetic resonance right across the spectrum. He is our main man for this kind of writing
One of the most interesting, curious, cultured and trenchant writers on this planet
Born in 1951, Bryan Appleyard attended King's College, Cambridge. He was Financial News Editor and Deputy Arts Editor at THE TIMES from 1976 to 1984. He writes for numerous publications including VANITY FAIR, THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE SPECTATOR and THE SUNDAY TIMES, where he is a special feature writer, commentator, reviewer and columnist.