Finer Things


London at the start of the 1960s. Delia, an expert shoplifter from the East End, needs to atone for a terrible mistake. Tess can’t work out how to escape her bourgeois upbringing and become the artist she wants to be. Jimmy might turn out to be a genius if he doesn’t destroy himself first. Bill is a playwright and activist whose best days are probably behind him.

Finer Things depicts an era of dizzying social change; a city whose past weighs heavy upon it, but also one where social class, sexuality and gender are all about to be made anew. Where the boundaries between crime and celebrity are beginning to crumble. Inspired by the real-life shoplifting careers of Alice Diamond and Shirley Pitts, the novel takes in Soho’s bohemian culture, the early days of the British anti-apartheid movement, and the rise of some famous gangsters.

Mahsuda Snaith has described Finer Things as ‘an evocative portrait’. Jonathan Taylor said that it ‘unfolds with all the style, pace and drama of a British New Wave movie’. The novelist and memoirist Catherine Simpson wrote:

‘David Wharton’s Finer Things is vibrant, absorbing and bursting with the unexpected. The novel is a sideways look at 1960s London, in which art school bohemia meets the gangster underworld. It is full of spot-on observations about the subtle power play in human interaction. I was immediately drawn into its vivid world.’