These two books both describe, in passing, the origins of the West End of London that grew up in the late seventeenth century around St James’s Square, but in every other respect they are in contrast to one another. Anthony Adolph’s is a passionately committed and scholarly study of one of the Stuarts’ more illustrious henchmen, complete with detailed notes on sources that have never previously been brought together. He aims to rescue Henry Jermyn, Lord St Albans, begetter of Jermyn Street and possibly of Charles II too, from obscurity and obloquy, and very nearly succeeds.
Ed Glinert, however, races round a much larger tract of the West End with boundless zeal, enthusiasm and many nuggets of real information, but with such a slapdash disregard for strict accuracy or for a well-balanced phrase that one begins to feel tired and cross. To be fair, this book