The London House – Katherine Reay | A (Brief) Book Review

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.

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.

Published: 2021 | Add On: Goodreads or TheStoryGraph | 4.5 stars

I went into this read with both mistaken and low expectations. (Due to the number of glowing reviews from “Christian” authors, I naturally assumed that this was a “Christian” historical fiction novel, but I was wrong.) The London House ended up being an engaging read with interesting characters and an engrossing plot.

I completely fell in love with Caro and Margo, but I found Caroline and her family rather less…remarkable. That said, I enjoyed all of them and I always love a good restoration (of a family, in this case) thread. The healing Caroline’s family experiences as the result of uncovering Caro’s story was truly special to read about.

Reay’s writing was enjoyable, never fluffy, sometimes serious and other times quite entertaining.

I loved the split-time element and I absolutely adored the letters (and of course Beatrice).

The historical pieces of the story were incredibly interesting and I was quite disappointed to discover the Caroline Waite was not a real woman. I loved the way that Reay wove the different pieces of historical narrative together with her fictional characters. [The description of Wallis Simpson and her fascinating dresses was easily my single favorite part of this book. :)]

The London House is a solid and strong story, full of layers. The powerful themes of sisterhood and family as well as the beauty, and pain, in sacrificing your life to fight for the things you believe in, were beautifully portrayed as well.

(TW – cancer, melanoma)

Have you read The London House? How do you feel about split/slip-time stories?

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