Nora St. Laurent’s review of THE LONDON HOUSE by Katherine Reay
The London House by Katherine Reay
Published by HarperMuse
BACK COVER: Uncovering a dark family secret sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris to save her family’s reputation.
Caroline Payne thinks it’s just another day of work until she receives a call from Mat Hammond, an old college friend and historian. But pleasantries are cut short. Mat has uncovered a scandalous secret kept buried for decades: In World War II, Caroline’s British great-aunt betrayed family and country to marry her German lover.
Determined to find answers and save her family’s reputation, Caroline flies to her family’s ancestral home in London. She and Mat discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” Popular and witty, they came of age during the interwar years, a time of peace and luxury filled with dances, jazz clubs, and romance. The buoyant tone of the correspondence soon yields to sadder revelations as the sisters grow apart, and one leaves home for the glittering fashion scene of Paris, despite rumblings of a coming world war.
Each letter brings more questions. Was Caroline’s great-aunt actually a traitor and Nazi collaborator, or is there a more complex truth buried in the past? Together, Caroline and Mat uncover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941 that changed everything.
In this rich historical novel from award-winning author Katherine Reay, a young woman is tasked with writing the next chapter of her family’s story. But Caroline must choose whether to embrace a love of her own and proceed with caution if her family’s decades-old wounds are to heal without tearing them even further apart.
NORA’S REVIEW: Readers get to see a more serious side of this author, as she pens an engaging WWII novel. Showing how hope can come out of tragedy, why secrets were kept, revealing a bigger picture neither of them could see. The author gives readers a front- row seat to the adventures these twin sisters (separated for the first time) go on to the London House and abroad, each fighting the good fight seeking to do their part for the war effort. Fast, forward to the future where we meet Caroline Waite, desperately digging to uncover secrets, that will bring healing and hope, to her family, setting them free from the shame and tragedy of the past.
I enjoyed how this author used diary entries and personal letters between the twins, which helped Caroline and Mat get to the truth that would change everything. The author does an incredible job of whisking readers back in time. Showing one sister mixing with high society in the fashion industry and the other at the London House (family home).
Unlike the author’s other books that were fun, inspirational with flawed, relatable characters, this book has more of a serious tone. It takes readers to places the author hasn’t gone before. For example, we go to a few high society parties (with alcohol etc), where the sister hears designers briefly brag about scandalous designs, and intimate moments. Not graphic but gives readers a peek into that crazy world. This book almost reads as a non-fiction book about WWII very informative, and insightful, with no real spiritual thread like you find in her other books.
This was an enlightening, insightful story that shows a family torn apart and left fragmented by war. I enjoyed this mystery and how Caroline seeks to help her family heal. I also liked the splash of romance with Caroline and Mat as they discover some surprising secrets. Making this an engrossing story start to finish.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”
Nora St. Laurent
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