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London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets
By Peter Ackroyd
(Nan A. Talese, $25)

London’s Big Ben may stand an impressive 316 feet tall, but in London Under, author Peter Ackroyd invites us to turn our eyes downward when visiting the English capital. Underground, the city as most people know it disappears and an entirely new world is uncovered, complete with secret war rooms located under Whitehall road and ancient catacombs running throughout the city. This slim but fascinating volume is rich with stories of rivers run underground; the construction of the world’s oldest subterranean railway; and of the people who have worked, sought shelter or nefariously lurked beneath the surface.

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Opening Lines
“We had been wandering for so long I forgot what it was like to live within walls or sleep through the night.”

The Dovekeepers:
A Novel
By Alice Hoffman
(Scribner, $28)