The London House is the perfect blend of then and now. Katherine Reay does an impeccable job of weaving events throughout the lives of every character. This novel is not a simple bit of dueling timelines, but of using one character as a force through generations that have a lasting effect on history and the future.
- Title: The London House
- Author: Katherine Reay
- Publisher: Harper Muse on November 2, 2021
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Pages: 368
- Formats Available: Paperback, Audiobook, & Digital
- Rating: 5/5
Trigger Warnings: Emotional Abuse, Death of a Child, Cancer, Murder, Gun Violence, Violence
Many thanks to Katherine Reay and Harper Muse for providing me with a paperback copy of The London House with a request for an honest review. I also wish to thank Laurel Ann from AustenprosePR for allowing me to participate in this tour and for providing me with all the materials needed to make this post.
About The London House
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.Provided by AustenprosePR for Tour Use
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Caroline Payne lives a strange half-life between a terrible accident from her childhood and growing up with no parental love or concern. Caroline walks with one foot in the past and the other wandering the plane with nowhere to land. Until a blast from her past shows up in the form of Mat. Mat reveals a terrible story about her ancestors that can potentially ruin her family even more than their lives already had. But, Caroline doesn’t believe the story, so she sets out on a quest for the truth. Will the truth bring peace to her shattered family, or will it make things worse?
Caroline’s character brought out emotions in me that I didn’t expect. There is absolutely nothing to bond us, yet I felt a yearning to know her. I wanted to be the person in her life that made her feel okay about things, almost a motherly connection. Caroline was in so much pain, and I wanted to pull her to me while she let all that negativity out that was holding her back. However, at the same time, I could connect with the feelings of her parents. Families are never the same after a tragic event, and that is something I can relate to.
The Waite-Paine family broke my heart. I wanted nothing more than to see them happy.
When Mat came along with his horrible news, I wanted to punch him. He couldn’t get the right words out, and it was so frustrating that he wouldn’t get to the point. I was ready to toss the book at the wall. Though, I also knew that there was more to the story. I instinctively knew that his version of events wasn’t the truth. So, when Caroline went on her quest for answers, I was in it for the long haul. I read with such intensity that I didn’t put the book down until I finished. It took me six hours. I had a hunger that forced me to keep going until I knew Caro’s story.
The backdrop of WWII made the whole story have a sinister undercurrent that had me shaking. The pain that Margo and Caro both carried felt like drowning slowly through a wet blanket. The changing dynamics of a family caused them both to mistrust the other while still trusting each other implicitly. The emotional push and pull between Caro and Margo felt like a living, breathing character of its own. This unwanted character wreaked havoc on three generations that never learned to live in the moment, only stuck in the past.
The question remains…will this family ever heal from the fractures of the past?
I enjoyed this book so much. My only problem was that, at times, I felt that the story dragged from the constant wallowing of the characters. But, you must realize that I was so engrossed in the novel that I frustrated myself because I couldn’t read faster. So, this dragging is not a real problem, but only in my own mind because I rushed to know more.
I award The London House a full 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this novel to anyone with a love of how history mingles with the present. This book is like two stories in one. The writing wraps seamlessly around each character, and the result is extraordinary.
About the Author – Katherine Reay
Katherine Reay is the national bestselling and award-winning author of Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy and Jane, The Brontë Plot, A Portrait of Emily Price, The Austen Escape, and The Printed Letter Bookshop. All Katherine’s novels are contemporary stories with a bit of classical flair. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and is a wife, mother, former marketer, and avid chocolate consumer. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine now happily resides outside Chicago, IL.