The Light Over Londonby Published 08 Jan 2019
|The Light Over London.pdf|
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
In this book we meet two woman of two different time periods. The first is Cara Hagraves, a young woman devastated from a current divorce who works with a antiques dealer classifying objects. The other is Louise Keene, a young woman who is stifled by her overbearing parents and looks for a way to escape their confines. She finds it by running away and then working as one of the ack ack girls during World War II. Both girls are trying to find a place where they belong, a place where they find their sense of self, a way to establish their natures.
Cara finds hidden in an old piece of furniture, a diary that once belonged to Louise and from those pages the story is drawn. As Cara searches to determine who Louise was, she discovers more about her own grandmother's place in the war. She is helped by a young man and the romance begins to bud as they draw closer to one another and the truth of what happened to these young woman thrown into the war effort.
This book offered an interesting look into the ack ack girls, but it was more of a romance story than an actual historical fiction novel. While I did like it, for it was an easy read, I did want more development on the historical side. It did however, encourage me to research more about the ack ack girls and for me that is what a good book often does.....inspires you to dig deeper.
Thank you to Julia Kelly, Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. Thanks also to the Traveling Sisters reading group who read along with me.
My reviews can be seen here: http://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpress...
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.
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.
Fair warning! Tissues needed!
Positively touching, a sweet romantic slow burn sweep through two historical timelines. Separate, yet intertwined are the walks of two woman from different backgrounds and times, who want to follow their hearts and are thrown devastating challenges their way.
Moving back into her hometown to restart her life after a painful divorce, Cara Hargraves works on estate inspections, appraisals and sales. Her interest in all old things and historical treasures take up most of her time, as she studies over manuals and catalogs during work as well as on her own free time. Isolating herself from others and trying to make a new home, she hardly seeks time for socialization of any kind nor gives her new cute neighbor any thought.
At one of her on site assignments, Cara stumbles upon an old tin with a diary in it that was kept from the estate sale itself. With permission she is allowed to read the diary over the course of the next few weeks and she finds herself entranced by the strength, heartache, blush worthy and tragic moments told by a young woman who has run away from home to follow independence and love.
It’s the beginning of WWII, Louise is destined to be betrothed to a young man with a bright future as her mother sees fit and has planned it out for years…just as soon as he is back from his military duty assignment. But Louise is not happy. Not liking the confinement of her small town, she begins to dream big and of going to California to study math.
As her BFF cousin takes Louise to a dance one evening in town, she falls smitten with a young soldier that is on R&R for the evening. Cautiously they go on a few dates, always staying hidden away from the prying eyes in town. But as destiny has it, someone sees them and tells her mother. As the reprimands escalate, Louise decides to run away with her cousin to enlist in hopes of making a difference and creating a better life for herself other than the one her mother envisions.
It turns out, Louise accelerates on her aptitude tests with highest honor and becomes the special assignment of Ack-Ack girl along with 5 other smart and fierce ladies. As she is training and becoming close to her comrades, she keeps pen paling with Paul the entire time and keeping log in her diary. As the months pass, Paul and her are trying to meet up again, and after many unforeseen circumstances and canceled leave time, he surprises her and shows up at her duty station. One day later, they marry and consummate their new relationship…till they will see each other again.
Cara in the meantime is reading through the diary and her cute neighbor happens to be a history professor. As he inches forward in a neighborly way with a dinner to get to know her, Cara tells him of her work and the diary. Intrigued about the mystery couple and the abrupt diary ending, he offers to help her in finding out who the rightful owner of the diary is so they can return it to the family.
As the novel switches viewpoints between Louise and Cara, it becomes a connected network of similarities and revelations balanced with moments of the women’s relationships, failures and successes.
If you have been fooled like me by the blurb on the book that states: For fans of the 'Lilac Girls' or 'The Nightingale', let me say, that in my opinion that is not exactly true. I am an absolute fan of the 'Lilac Girls' by Martha Hall Kelly and the tragic story of the 'Rabbit-Girls' at Ravensbrueck, so much though, that I have done further reading on the subject and suggested readings from the back of that book. And this novel was nothing like the atrocities that happened at Concentration camp. For fans of 'The Nightingale' it may hold a bit closer of a match, but again the direct contact and influence of German soldiers in town and their violence was a missing piece in this novel.
However, 'The Light Over London' is a beautiful, romantic read that takes place around / during the WWII and holds it’s own for a great sweeping story that touches on the subject of woman in the military during the war. Specifically the Ack Ack Girls. This was a legitimate branch of ladies that was sent to assist gunners to target in on German planes to shoot them out of the sky from the ground. So as it goes, I went and looked up some info on these brave ladies and will attach it at the bottom.
To gather my thoughts and sum it up, this novel is beautiful and touching. The romance is sweet and slow, and I don’t read romance novels normally (…I fell for the blurb expecting something different). But I was pretty smitten. This book ended up being the one I wanted to read in the tub with some bubbly and the one that kept me up late at night reading.
The conclusion is sweet, not everything is a happy ending, but it checked all the boxes of closing the different plot endings…only for me to wish I could read on. So, already missed are the characters and this book will be one of my faves for its own flavor not to stand in the shadow of another.
Romance haters beware. Romance lovers embrace! This novel is beautiful.
I received a digital copy of this title from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you.
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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