A Double Thread
Full of striking characters and odd encounters, this is an evocative picture of a lost London and a vanished culture, but it is also the story of a bookish boy discovering his own path - away from Mile End into the new freedoms of the literary life. Amusing, touching and thoughtful, A Double Thread is a fascinating and unusual memoir of growing up in London's East End and a profound reflection on living with two separate yet entwined legacies, Jewish and English.
John Gross was the son of a Jewish doctor who practised in Mile End at the time of WW2. His parents were the children of immigrants, steeped in the language and traditions of a European past, yet outside the home he grew up in a very English world of schools and books. Looking back on his childhood he reflects on this double inheritance. The richness of Yiddish words, the rituals of religion set against the daily life of the East End, where gangsters were heroes and patients turned up on the doorstep at all hours. Yet in the background lies the shadow of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. A Double Thread is a marvellously vivid picture of a lost London and a vanished culture but it is also the story of an imaginative boy discovering his own path, through books andfilms and school - away from the East End into the new freedoms of a literary life.