The Light Over Londonby Julia Kelly Published 08 Jan 2019
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Reminiscent of Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls and Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, this sweeping, entrancing story is a must-read for fans of remarkable women rising to challenges they could never have predicted.
It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.
In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.
Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.
Illuminating the story of these two women separated by generations and experience, Julia Kelly transports us to World War II London in this heartbreakingly beautiful novel through forgotten antique treasures, remembered triumphs, and fierce family ties.
"The Light Over London" Reviews
3.75 stars rounded up to 4
A compelling dual narrative taking place in 2018 and during WWII that was Impossible to put down
The Light Over London is probably what many of us WWII readers would refer to as "historical lite", simply meaning it's a bit more heavy on the relationships between people ( in the case of this book- the gunner girls), families, and of course the romantic kind. But it was just the type of story to start on a cold(-50 celsius ) Saturday morning over my coffee. I really loved both protagonists - modern gal Cara and Gunner Girl, Louise, equally and felt their individual stories complimented each other well.
Author Julia Kelly matches the historical record with just the right dose of intrigue that kept me on the edge of my seat. If it appears, I am hesitant to give out a full rave rating, it is only because I saw a few plot twists coming but I would still not hesitate to recommend it to other readers.
Thanks to Netgalley and Simon and Shuster Canada for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Ah my favourite kind of story, that moves back and forth through the past and present time. Superbly written! In the present day, Cara is an antiques dealer, who is dealing with an estate of a recently deceased lady. She finds an old diary in amongst her things. It is a diary written in the WW2 era about a war time romance. She is fascinated and begins to try to solve the mystery. The story goes back in time as Cara reads the diary entries. In the present time Cara is also trying to find out a family secret about her own Grandmother during the second World War.
Sometimes when I read these past and present stories I enjoy one more than the other but in this book I equally enjoyed both stories. They were well thought out and told brilliantly little by little until the end and the big reveals. I will definitely be reading more from this author. If you enjoy Wartime romances I highly recommend this one. I chose to read this around Remembrance Day. I think it added to the nostalgia. I really enjoyed it!
Thank-you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for allowing me the opportunity to read this Advanced Reader Copy.
I recently got 'scolded' by one of my Goodreads friends for being 'nice' instead of giving an 'honest' review. With that in mind, here I go...
I won this book in a Goodreads drawing. It is a novel about two women. One, whom we could call an English little small town country girl, started keeping a diary when she fell in love with a Spitfire pilot at the beginning of World War II. The other female of interest is a current day young woman, divorced, who finds the diary while helping her employer go through antiques in an old house. As she starts reading the diary, our modern girl is drawn into it so much that she decides to try and track down the original owner so she can return the diary. "Why does she care?" one may ask. It seems that the more she reads, the more she finds this girl had in common with her grandmother, who seems to harbor a secret.
The switching back and forth between the time periods was necessary for the story to develop, but I found it mildly annoying. Having the story take place during WWII, and getting the historical facts right, more than made up for it for me.
There were actually two love stories here, our modern girl and the one from the past. The thing is, some things never change. I mean, as you read along you can sort of see what is going on here. To be honest, my knowledge of the WWII event made things pretty clear to me and I picked up on all the subtle hints, but I am sure many a lady out there will figure what's what using her female intuition and say, "That son of a bitch!"
I don't want to give away any spoilers so I will just say that there are unexpected developments and a fine set of characters supporting our small town girl. I will say this, Mom was trying to run the girl's life and did not want her dating a pilot. So the girl runs away and signs up for the duration. She ends up as part of a female gun crew defending London during the Blitz. It was probably the best thing that ever happened to her. Read it and see why
Sweet, intriguing, and romantic!
The Light Over London is a compelling tale set during the early 1940s, as well as the present day, and is told from two different perspectives. Louise, a young girl who finds adventure outside her hometown by becoming a Gunner Girl in the British Army and being swept off her feet by a dashing RAF pilot; and Cara, a recent divorcee who after finding an old locket, photograph, and diary during an estate sale embarks on a journey to discover the owner's identity and life story.
The writing is light and fluid. The characters are intelligent, resilient, and determined. And the plot, including all the subplots, intertwine and unravel subtly into an engaging tale of life, loss, family, heartbreak, betrayal, friendship, secrets, and love.
Overall, The Light Over London is an uplifting, atmospheric, informative tale about taking chances, moving on, and discovering one’s true self. And even though I felt it delved a little deeper into the romance, relationship side than the historical fiction side of things I did enjoy the little glimpse into some of the unknown, specialty roles women played during WWII.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
This could have been a fascinating book about one of the first and only woman bombers in WWII. The woman's story is interesting but for some reason the author juxtapositions the tale of modern day antique dealer, Cara, who discovers the diary in a house of furniture being prepared for auction. This odd pairing leads to an average historical romance instead of an illuminating look at underreported aspect of women roles during the War. What a sad missed opportunity.
The Light Over London is a dual timeline story that grabbed me from page one. I love historical fiction about strong women who buck the societal norms to make their own way in life! Julia Kelly’s latest work is a must read for historical fiction fans!