Having recently read Gillian Tindall's The Fields Beneath about the rural roots of Kentish Town I was glad to receive as a birthday present her latest, about the Latin Quarter of Paris, the changes to it over two centuries since an ancestor of hers, Arthur Jacob, arrived there in 1814, and her own family history: Footprints in Paris. It's an attractive, slowly-unfolding book, that gets under the skin of a place where she lived as a young woman in the 1950s and reveals her skill at teasing out the history of place that is so strikingly done in The Fields Beneath. In the throes myself of writing a book about Bloomsbury, I am fascinated by this kind of "microhistory" as it has been called, that reads the urban landscape with minute attention. Quieter in tone than the more hyped "psychogeographers" of London, I found this a very moving book about how one tries to imagine other lives and their passage through history. I was struck particularly by her observation that the Latin Quarter has slowly been emptied of its working class or ordinary population as gentrification, the surest of urban trends, removes the cheap "hotels" or long-term lodging houses, places where people without lots of money (students, workers, artists, writers, recent migrants) could once live. Their future is to be shipped out to the suburbs and tower blocks with their "social problems" (which really amount to a rupture from real living communities and the difficulty of re-inventing them in concrete jungles). Public housing at affordable rents once enabled a range of social classes to live in the heart of London. This is not about sentimental nostalgia; it's about the idea that communities are just that: organic patterns of multi-cultural, multi-class, living where change is of course part of that organic life but also variety, social mix, and even a bit of scruffiness.