Sunday, January 30, 2022

THE LONDON HOUSE by Katherine Reay, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"No one in my family was ever going to forgive or forget what Caro had done - what they thought she had done. So to mitigate the damage, they absorbed it."

Family secrets. Such powerful intangibles. When Caroline Payne receives a call from a former college friend, Mat Hammond, about one of theirs, her life and the lives of her living family members become completely upended. So many questions. So few answers . . . or were they just cleverly, and perhaps even lovingly hidden for a different generation to discover, tucked inconspicuously between the lines. It was going to take some painstaking research into the life of her grandmother's twin sister, and the London House was a good place, the only place, for Caroline to begin. Would the truth present itself or be forever buried deep within the annuls of time.

" And someday . . . the truth would come out, and that would be . . .  more than enough."

Because this book was so beautifully written, I wanted to love it, instead I grew to appreciate it. After initially capturing my attention, much like the characters themselves, I became frustrated with the endless crumbs of information that led seemingly towards the same conclusions. The process however, was a different thing altogether, it was utterly and completely transforming, much like the truth itself.

A rather remarkable piece of general fiction.

*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars


BackCover Blurb
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.

Harper Muse Publishing, November 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:
Buy The London House at Amazon


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