Going on my first solo trip to London was an absolute blast. Getting to go on literary dates in London was even better. Not all the books I read became literary dates but not because others I read weren’t awesome too. In fact, I’ve compiled a list of all the bests books set in London that I read.
These books will transport you to London from wherever you are. In some of the books, the characters bring you to some of the most iconic spots in London, some just have that London feel like you are right there, and others have that real everyday London thing going on.
I love romcoms so this list will include many of those but I also love historical fiction, women’s fiction, and other types of modern novels set in London.
If this is your first time here, I typically read books set in NYC, which inspire a cool tour of the city or literary date as I call them. Now, I’m taking my literary dates global by bringing them to London. I read a TON of books set in London and they inspired five awesome literary dates.
While all the books didn’t inspire literary dates, all these books are books set in London that I absolutely loved. So I had to share them with you.
I will also let you know which of these books inspired a literary date in London and link to the post. In those posts, you get to see where I went in London, what I experienced and ate, and lots of great pictures.
Okay, full disclosure, a couple of these books are books set outside of London but they are such great destinations I had to include them. Also, they are spots that could be a nice day trip from London. Forgive me?
Without further ado…let’s get to it!
Best Books Set in London
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*Books marked with an asterisk were gifted in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
This sweet book is a charmer filled with characters that will warm your heart and a clever premise that will hook you from the start.
Julian, is a lonely man of 79 who has lived a cool life as an artist but has regrets. Julian also feels like people aren’t genuine and decides to write all his truths down in a green notebook he titles, “The Authenticity Project.” He leaves the notebook in a local cafe for someone else to find to continue the purpose of the notebook.
Monica, the owner of the cafe, finds the book and spills her heart onto the pages, and leaves it in a bar for the next person to find…
Six strangers are deeply connected by “The Authenticity Project,” and soon their lives intertwine. The book teaches them about bravery and the power of community.
Such an uplifting read! This is one of my favorite books set in London. I loved it from start to finish.
I also really wanted to go on a literary date inspired by this book but didn’t get a chance to. This book would send you to Brompton Cemetery, which I read is filled with wildlife. This book could also inspire a yummy time at Borough Market.
You could also check out Nomad Books, which would be near Monica’s fictional cafe on Fulham Rd.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
This was a tough read for me but worth it. It follows young Queenie Jenkins, a Jamaican-British woman living in London and dealing with the aftermath of a “break” from her long-term, white boyfriend.
We follow Queenie as she makes one terrible decision after another with the men she meets. After her break up, her self-worth is at an all-time low. She also can’t accept that it’s over with her ex and still has hopes that it’s not an actual breakup.
And why would she even really want to be with him when he never stood up for her against his very racist family? I hated the decisions Queenie made throughout the book but I rooted for her the whole time to find her worth. While reading, you are thinking, “Nooo, don’t do it!” but she’s a young woman making poor decisions.
Queenie navigates her life with the help of a close circle of friends and her family. This story deals with mental health, BLM, what it’s like for a black woman working amidst mostly white coworkers, self-discovery, and ultimately leads to a path of self-love.
And yes, thankfully there is humor in this book and it’s very much written for a modern audience, We get text correspondences between her friends and a relatable woman living in today’s society. It’s a great modern book set in London.
With Love from London by Sarah Jio
This book is absolutely lovely. Truly one of my favorite books set in London. You will fall in love with it, trust me.
Valentina Baker is fleeing a failed marriage to Primrose Hill in London after the death of her estranged mother, Eloise. Eloise left Val when she was just eleven years old and now Val has just inherited her mom’s apartment and bookstore in Primrose Hill.
Val thinks she will just tie up all the loose ends and get out. However, she soon finds herself enchanted by the neighborhood and the people in it. Then, she finds a note from her mom which sends her on a scavenger hunt of intrigue about her mom.
Will she piece together what happened to make her mom abandon her and gain some closure?
This London novel also takes us back in time to give us Eloise’s full back story. We find out what drives her, her hopes and dreams, and how her life ends up back in London across the pond from her only daughter, Val.
This book charmed me all the way through and the complicated nature of Val’s relationship with her mom gripped my heart. Getting to follow the story from Eloise’s POV as well drives the story and gives you all the feels.
The friendships Val forms in Primrose Hill could also warm even the coldest of hearts, Wednesday
Adams, I’m looking at you.
With Love from London inspired an amazing literary date in London where I explored Primrose Hill and Regent’s Park. It was a glorious day!
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Dual timelines, historical fiction, and murdering men. All the ingredients for a tantalizing read…said no man ever. Sorry men, but is it better that the murdered men were most likely abusive, cheating low-lives?
In other words…they had it coming.
It’s eighteenth-century London, there’s a secret apothecary run by Nella who helps women rid the poisonous men in their lives by well, poisoning them. One of her most important rules is no harm will ever come to any woman for any reason.
One day, a precocious twelve-year-old enters the fold and unintentionally helps to cause a cascade of trouble for Nella.
In present-day London, we have Caroline, a historian who’s on a trip to London that was meant to celebrate her tenth anniversary. Instead, Caroline discovered the cheating ways of her husband and escaped to London on her own.
While mudlarking, Caroline discovers an apothecary vial and sets out to discover its origins. It’s a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders from the eighteenth century. Yes, Caroline, Nella, and twelve-year-old, Eliza will all be connected by this one vial.
I thought this was an incredible book filled with intrigue and had me tearing through the pages. The Lost Apothecary also inspired a literary date in London, which actually came to me in a mysterious way. You will not be disappointed with this book!
I also enjoyed Sarah Penner’s second novel, The London Séance Society, although a bit predictable, that didn’t bother me. I’m all for female-driven stories and murder mysteries set in the spirit world.
*Here for the Drama by Kate Bromley
If you are a theatre lover and romcom lover like me, you fall in love with this book! Some feel it’s more women’s fiction than romcom. But I disagree. I think it’s a pretty solid romcom with plenty of romance.
It just also happens to have a storyline involving the main character, Winnie’s aspirations to become a playwright and her somewhat tumultuous, somewhat codependent relationship with her boss.
Winnie’s boss is world-renowned, feminist playwright Juliette Brassard, and Winnie works as her assistant. They have come to London to put on Juliette’s most well-known play.
Once there, Winnie meets the adorably charming and very British guy, Liam who just happens to be Juliette’s nephew. For this reason, they have to keep their budding relationship hush-hush.
Liam takes Winnie to see all of London’s most fantastic sites so this is one of those books set in London that will easily transport you there.
Amidst their developing relationship and the drama of putting the show together, there are also Winnie’s playwright aspirations that figure heavily into the storyline.
Winnie is counting on Juliette to give her some guidance with it but can Juliette be counted on for anything other than her own selfish pursuits?
This is such a fun read and so cleverly written. The banter between Winnie and Liam is top-notch and bonus, there’s an adorable rescue dog. So. Much. Fun.
Honestly, one of the most enjoyable books set in London.
Here for the Drama also inspired a fabulous literary date in London.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
This London book has quite an awkward premise that got my attention. Tiffy, who has just broken up with her emotionally abusive boyfriend, needs a new apartment fast. Trouble is that everything in her price range is a dump.
Tiffy is desperate and when she finally sees a place that is actually liveable, she’s relieved. The only catch is that she’ll be sharing the apartment. And not in a traditional roommate sort of way.
Nope, this is a one-bedroom apartment that she will share with Leon. You see, Leon works nights and only needs the apartment during the day. So for quite a deal, Tiffy will get the apartment on nights and weekends. Leon gets to stay with his accommodating girlfriend on the weekends.
While this means Tiffy will have to share a bed with a literal stranger, it also means she gets a whole apartment almost to herself in London for quite a steal.
Yeah, I’ve been desperate for cheaper rent in NYC but don’t think I could get this desperate. However, I suspended my disbelief so I could enjoy this delightful romance. They start leaving notes for each other, develop quite a friendship, and become ingrained in each other’s lives.
Will they meet and will Leon dump his pesky, controlling girlfriend? The Flatshare takes you on a fun ride with romance, friendships, and picking yourself up after a terrible relationship.
The Flatshare is one of my favorite books set in London. Check it out!
*Maame by Jessica George
This is a great coming-of-age debut book and another awesome book set in London. Maddie is only twenty-five years old but has become the primary caretaker for her family. Maddie’s mom, throughout her life, has spent much of her life in Ghana taking care of the business there, allegedly.
That left Maddie as the responsible one and her brother as the kind of angry, distant, and let’s be honest, selfish one. Maddie lives alone with her father who is struggling with Parkinson’s disease.
Then, much to Maddie’s surprise, her mom comes home and takes over the caretaker role. This a quite an opportunity for Maddie and she seizes it. Maddie finds a place to live with roommates, starts dating, and finally says yes to having some fun in her life.
Unfortunately, her newfound lease on life is short-lived because tragedy soon strikes and sends Maddie on a downward spiral. Now Maddie is left to pick up the pieces in her life, deal with her grief, her role in her family, and a mother, and family who take advantage of her.
Maddie has to learn how to take care of her mental health and become the woman she wants to be. “Maame” means woman in Twi, which Maddie loved being called as a little girl. She took pride in being seen as a woman. However, now Maddie resents her nickname.
Being “the responsible one” has also put a lot of unfair pressure on her. Will Maddie finally stand up for herself, reclaim her life, but also find a truly loving place in her family?
I thought this was a compelling, rich story. Maddie’s constant googling also made me laugh and feel better about all my own inane googling. However, the tragedy that Maddie had to face was a difficult one. I felt the pain of that while I read so it was hard. Really hard.
Ultimately, it’s a beautiful and uplifting read. Highly recommend this lovely novel set in London.
In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk
Such a fun read filled with witty, British humor. This book had me laughing and taking note of some fabulous British insults I could use. Never know when you might need a perfectly worded dig.
This London book has Ros coming home with her tail between her legs after three years away in the States. To add insult to injury when Ros moves back in with her parents, she learns she will be living in the garden shed. Seriously.
You see her parents have gotten a bit frisky in their older, more private years so into the shed Ros has to go. And then she ends up with a podcast job with some teen YouTube star who always wears some sort of animal’s head disguising his identity. Weird.
Ros also has run-ins with an ex and also a very cute, lovely bartender. Oh yeah, we’re rooting for the bartender here. The Ex can take a long walk over a…you get it.
It’s a hilariously, fun read that you could read in a day or two.
You and Me, Always by Jane Mansell
Have you ever read a book that makes you feel so good and happy that you want to marry it? This is a seriously sweet book set in the most idyllic of setting in the Cotswolds.
This book will make you want to go to the Cotswolds and find a group of people like the cast of characters in this book.
We have Lily Harper who every year on her birthday gets a letter from her mom who sadly died when she was just a child. Lily was taken in by the close-knit community in her village in the Cotswolds, and was protected and loved.
Turning twenty-five is a big milestone for Lily and bittersweet because it will be the last letter from her mom. In this letter, Lily learns about her mom’s true love, and spoiler alert, it wasn’t her ne’er do well father. Lily wants to find this man to have a connection to her mother.
This book also introduces us to Dan, Lily’s best friend and also the guy she happens to be hopelessly pining for. Too bad he’s too busy with his string of women.
We will also meet Patsy, the always single older friend of Lily and Dan’s sister. We’ll meet Coral, the one who raised Lily. And plot-twist a hot celebrity gets in the mix when he takes refuge in the Cotswolds to avoid the paparazzo.
I loved this book. It will warm your heart and have you laughing. It also inspired a literary date in the Cotswolds. An amazing day!
The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin
Set during WWII, The Last Bookshop in London, sees Grace Bennett moving to London right before the war with her best friend, Viv. Grace doesn’t have many options for work so has to settle for working at a bookshop until she can get a recommendation for a more coveted position at Harrods.
As the war progresses, Grace goes from staying safe-ish in the bomb shelter at her house to volunteering to become an air warden where she patrolled the dark London streets at night to protect the city during the Blitz.
By day bookshop worker and by night Grace defended London against the raining bombs.
And at the start of the story, she knows nothing about reading books for pleasure, and by the end, books become her salvation and the community she’s a part of. The most compelling moments of the story involve how reading connects her community and gives them hope in a very terrifying time.
There’s heartbreak, there’s romance, and there’s heroism in this captivating historical fiction. I will admit that it felt a bit YA to me which did not make me feel fully connected to the story. I do love YA though so not knocking YA, let’s be clear.
It’s an easy read and everything ties up beautifully. Despite a little disconnected feeling while reading, I still thoroughly enjoyed this one and it made me interested in reading more WWII books and the strong women who helped in the war effort.
The No-Show by Beth O’Leary
Another awesome book by Beth O’Leary, The No-Show follows three women who don’t know each other as they are jilted on Valentine’s Day. The cherry on top of this sundae that no one wants is they are all stood up by the same man. Oh hellz no!
Siobhan is a life coach who enjoys her friends-with-benefits situation but is it more than that? Miranda is a tree surgeon literally up in trees doing I don’t know what but so cool just like one of the guys. Except she’s not a guy, she’s one badass woman.
Then we have the lovely Jane with no self-worth who has run from her past by living in a new city and volunteering at a charity shop.
This charming gent is able to get each of these women to forgive him and stay in their lives. Will each of them fall head over heels in love with a guy like this? And why does he seem so great? I’d totally fall for his charms too, hook, line, and sinker.
This book was so cleverly written that Beth O’Leary has become one of my favorite authors. I turned the pages so fast to see what was going on- watch out for that twist. It is quite a ride and worth every minute.
My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
This book really made me bummed that I didn’t go on a day trip to Oxford when I was in London. It really transports you to Oxford and I feel like I have a good feel of what studying there might be like.
Maybe sort of…anyway…
In My Oxford Year, Ella Durran has been dreaming of studying at Oxford ever since she was a young girl. Now she got a Rhodes Scholarship to do just that, however, it happens at the same time she gets a dream offer to work a presidential campaign.
Ella is so sought after that she is allowed to work remotely and then when her year is up, she will return to DC to continue her fabulous career. It’s a win-win, she’ll have a dream year in Oxford and then a great start to her career back at home.
Ella has a rude run-in with a local guy, Jamie, they literally go to blows, which gives Ella a rough start in Oxford. And if you think that is bad, you won’t believe that this local douche turns out to be her literary professor! Well, of course, that would happen.
It gets better, they make up and have a casual fling which turns out to be more. But then flip that around to Jamie hiding this big secret that could change all of Ella’s perfectly laid out plans.
I loved this book. It made me want to study at Oxford, make lots of cool British friends, hang out in pubs, and have a fling with a hot professor. Apparently, that sort of thing isn’t frowned upon there. Sign me up!
The story’s twist could put you on an emotional rollercoaster so be prepared.
The Light Over London by Julia Kelly
After reading this one, I knew I had to include it in my best books set in London book list because it has so many captivating elements that made it a thoroughly engaging read. This historical fiction book has dual POVs and timelines, a little mystery, and dual romances, one being complicated.
In the present day, Cara Hargraves, who is newly divorced and working with an antiques dealer discovers a diary written by a woman in 1941.
That woman is Louise Keene who is nineteen years old, lived her whole life in the same Cornish village, and is feeling stuck with her overbearing mother and sympathetic father who doesn’t do enough to help.
Cara is determined to find out who the diary belongs to and the rest of the young woman’s captivating story. Luckily for Cara, a new neighbor who just happens to be a handsome history teacher offers to help her.
I was all in on that romantic setup.
Louise meets a Flight Lieutenant who sweeps her off her feet, which angers her mom who has already chosen a wealthy suitor for her to marry once the war is over. Louise will have none of that, with Mr. Lieutenant called to war, Louise wastes no time paving her own path.
Louise joins the women’s auxiliary branch of the British Army and because of her brilliant math skills, gets assigned to a special unit- the anti-aircraft gun unit as a gunner girl. Louise’s bravery is put to the test along with the other women and men working beside her.
Louise continues to correspond with her beau, their romance blossoms, she yearns for him, and then…I don’t want to spoil too much. You’ll find more details in other book summaries but just read it and see how it unfolds.
I loved both POVs but Louise’s story is far and away more compelling. It’s a beautiful ride and especially as a woman, it’s great to read a story about such brave, amazing women. Until this book and the other wartime book I read, I did not know women’s role in this war.
It makes me want to read more about it and I’d love a movie to be made. Badass women in a movie? Yes, please!
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Told in four POVs set mostly in London in the aftermath of WWII, it’s a raw, stripped view of what living in that time period was like for these four people and those like them.
Hortense Joseph and her husband Gilbert Joseph had high hopes about moving to their mother country from Jamaica but the harsh reality is quite different from what they had envisioned.
Hortense back home was used to having advantages due to her lighter skin tone and worked as a teacher. Gilbert, fresh from the war, is expecting to be greeted with respect as a war hero. They soon learned firsthand about racism.
Queenie, raised as a farmer’s daughter, is Gilbert and Hortense’s white landlady and genuine friend. The return of Queenie’s husband, Bernard, from the war, changes the sweet dynamic they had going on.
Each character in the book is fully developed, we learn where they came from and all their individual stories. It’s a very compelling read, rich and full of life with a bittersweet ending.
Great book to get lost in.
Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes
This fabulous book casts some great female friendships. I always love books that feature great friendships and this book makes friendship the central and driving force in this book.
A celebration of female friendships- I’m here for it!
Nisha and Sam are complete opposites and when their gym bags get accidentally swapped, it sets in motion monumental life changes for both of them.
Nisha has led a glamorous life and has a closet full of designer clothes that she protects like they are her life and blood. Out of nowhere, her husband wants a divorce and cuts her off from everything- her home and even worse, her designer clothes.
Nisha doesn’t even have her beloved six-inch high Christian Louboutin red crocodile shoes that were in her gym bag because Sam has them now…
…meanwhile, Sam is at a low point in life, for months she’s been working her butt off while her husband has been going through a crisis, is unemployed, and making a huge dent in the couch. To make matters worse, Sam’s boss is awful and seems to have it out for her.
Sam even kills it at a series of meetings (her new Louboutins might have had something to do with that) but her boss still gives her a hard time. Sam is able to push that aside for a bit with a little help from the shoes. Oh yes, the shoes have given Sam a new lease on life and helped her to realize she needs to reevaluate her life.
Finally, Nisha and Sam connect, along with the other women in their life and they work together for a common cause.
It’s such a fun book that will have you rooting for these ladies, honestly, I let out a “woop woop!” while reading. Also, as a 40something myself, I found it refreshing to finally read a book with middle-aged women.
This book has heart, humor, and strength. Grab a prosecco and dive into this book.
What do you think about this London books list? What awesome books set in London did I miss?
I hope you enjoyed this list of books set in London and can find one or two or fifteen books to devour. Visiting London was so amazing and when you can’t go, these books are a great way to transport you there.
Please let me know in the comments what London books should be added. Also, if you like this book list, you also might enjoy my NYC book list.
If you love all things London then check out my literary dates inspired by books set in London (and one just outside London):
#Ad I love using my Kindle paperwhite, it’s so lightweight and the screen is the closest to reading an actual book that I’ve ever seen. I easily bring it with me wherever I go as it fits so easily in my bag.
Perfect for riding the subway. I also love that I can use the Libby app to borrow e-books straight to my Kindle from my local library. I do often read regular books too but when I’m reading from my Kindle, it’s a literal weight off my shoulders. Love my Kindle!