My Crouch End: Author Linda Grant

Linda Grant, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson

Linda Grant, photographed by Charlie Hopkinson - Credit: Archant

Orange Prize winner Linda Grant on why Crouch End attracts creative types and how the area has inspired her books

What brought you to Crouch End?

I moved here in 1994 from south London, friends lived here and I loved the sense of being part of a neighbourhood and community, which Crouch End has in spades. I can leave the house and bump into two or three people I know and stop and chat, so the facelessness and anonymity of the city is never present.

You have a day off to spend as you wish, what would you get up to?

Do the Parkland Walk which has an entrance a block away from me, wander round the shops. Might go up to the garden centre at Ally Pally and walk back down again along the tree-lined path.

Has Crouch End inspired your books? In The Dark Circle one of the characters, a spivvy property developer is building blocks of flats on the bomb sites near the rail lines to Kings Cross. The Parkland Walk features in We Had it So Good and Priory Park in Upstairs at the Party, though not named.

What makes Crouch End special?

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I think the problem of transport. There’s no Tube so you need to get a bus to Finsbury Park. It feels enclosed and that’s attracted a lot of creative people who aren’t daily commuters, like writers, designers, artists, illustrators and actors. To some extent that’s changing with the huge hike in house prices as more and more City people move in.But people rarely leave Crouch End voluntarily, they’re driven out by unaffordability.

Do you have any recommendations?

Many. For coffee and superb cake the newly opened Ruby Rose on Tottenham Lane by Elder Avenue and a few doors down Irvin Bar and Grill for drinks and wonderful Italian food. I love Aix, proper French food and an extensive menu. I’ve spent a fortune over the years in the design shop Indish which has the superb selection of modern design - something at every price.

Would you like anything improved?

We lost our bookshop six years ago which was a major blow. I’ve heard that Waterstones is opening in the new year which will mean I never have to leave. We now have two cinemas so I rarely do.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

Primrose Hill resident Baroness Joan Bakewell who at 83 is as sharp, intelligent, witty, stylish and effective as ever.

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant has recently been released