Author(s): Matthew Sweet
Spies: Meet Marie-Jacqueline Lancaster, the woman from M15 who has the gravy browning licked from her legs by Dylan Thomas. Royals: Meet Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia, born in a suite at Claridge's that was declared Yugoslav territory for the night. Players: Meet Joyce Stone, whose husband leads the band at the Dorchester, keeping dancers foxtrotting even as the shudders of bombardments penetrate the sound-proofed walls of the hotel. "West End Front" is a witty and eye-opening account of the extraordinary events that unfolded under the reinforced ceilings of London's grand hotels.
It's the Second World War and the bedrooms, hallways and grillrooms of the Savoy, the Dorchester and Claridge's teem with those who are determined not to allow Hitler to impact on their way of life.
Matthew Sweet presents Night Waves and Freethinking on BBC Radio 3. He is the author of Inventing the Victorians and Shepperton Babylon, which he adapted as a film for BBC Four.