Yep. Charlotte Pidgeon is real. The life I've created for her is only a figment of my imagination, but I took my character's name directly off this gravestone.
This cemetery was one of the first spots I visited on my first full day after moving to London. I stumbled upon it purely on accident, and it's been my favorite, most peaceful and soulful place in London ever since.
The Troubadour Cafe
The Troubadour is an iconic establishment renowned for its music scene. It’s the first place where Bob Dylan ever performed in London and has also seen the likes of Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Elvis Costello. Founded in the 1950s as part of London’s coffee house revival, one can only imagine the creative and intellectual minds that have converged here over the decades, and I personally find it a wonderfully cozy place to read and write with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. I just had to send my Margot there as well for one of the book’s scenes.
Ye Olde Cheschire Cheese
While not mentioned by name in the book, this is the old pub that Margot marvels was rebuilt in 1667 after London’s Great Fire of 1666. With cellars dating back centuries even before that, this quintessential pub is tucked just off the beaten path of Sweeney Todd’s Fleet Street. Charles Dickens was a regular there, and it’ll always be one of my top London favorites. When Margot runs into a friend near St. Paul’s Cathedral, I send them to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese for warm lunch, ale, and shelter from the rain.
Located beneath the Camden Stables Market, the “Catacombs” were actually underground stables, as horses were needed for the railways and towing barges along the canal. As they can easily flood, these tunnels are closed to the public, but if you go to the nearby Proud Camden club, you can have a private party in one of the stables there! An edgy art and music mecca, this neighborhood was home to Amy Winehouse and has a vibrant day and night scene. It’s also the namesake of the fictional Camden Court apartment building in my debut novel, Seven for a Secret, which is set in Chicago.
St. Paul's Cathedral
While not an actual setting in the book, this London icon does appear in Margot’s journal entries as she chronicles her experiences in and around the city. St. Paul’s readily becomes a beacon of sorts to her, standing tall and benevolently in the city’s center atop Ludgate Hill. Three centuries old, Christopher Wren’s English Baroque masterpiece boasts an iconic dome, miraculously survived the Blitz, and has hosted such notable events as Prince Charles’s and Lady Diana’s wedding and Sir Winston Churchill’s and Margaret Thatcher’s funerals. In her journal, Margot writes about going to a debate there, which is based on a series of such that I attended myself soon after moving to London—a fascinating exploration of religion, science, and human identity that saw me through a tumultuous time of transition.
St. George's Chapel
Also featuring in Margot's journal is St. George’s Chapel, located at Windsor Castle. The lovely, ornately carved wooden balcony over the altar was built for Catherine of Aragon, and the queen’s parents and other royalty are buried at this chapel—including Princess Charlotte, whose 19th-century monument appears to Margot in a dream. I first saw this sculpture when touring out-of-town friends through Windsor and was so struck by its dark, dramatic beauty that I pulled out a pen and paper on the spot to scribble some thoughts that would later factor into the book.