Sarah Dunant's Bookshelf
By E.L. Doctorow
'I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps,' sang Frank Sinatra. The book to match the song is E.L. Doctorow's fabulous fictional vision of New York at the turn of the century. Interweaving a host of different stories and characters, Doctorow creates a huge tapestry of the city. The beginning of movies, the wonder of the automobile, the crassness of wealth, the spirit of early feminism and the exuberant music of ragtime—it's all here. I read it just after my first-ever visit to New York and found its energy, like the city's, infectious and boundless.