The Spies of Shilling Lane

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

If you want your history to feel personal, and to surprise you with unforeseen aspects, this book is for you.  Ryan also delivers with a heartfelt character arc that will have you turning page after to page to see where the story will go.  Highly recommended to anyone who loves endearing, personal World War II literature.
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to read The Spies of Shilling Lane from the very first mention of this book.  The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, also by Jennifer Ryan, is one of my favorite books in recent years.  This novel, like Chilbury, takes place during World War II, a time that the author evokes beautifully.

This is a novel about Mrs. Braithwaite, a middle aged divorcee living in a small English village.  When her daughter Betty, who is in London, suddenly goes missing, she goes to the city to look for her.  This begins a complicated mystery and a grand adventure involving spies, double spies, new friends, and maybe even a new chance at life.

This novel is cozy one moment and suspenseful the next.  I loved the adventure that is The Spies of Shilling Lane, and have already started recommending it to friends.  This is sure to be one of my favorite reads this year!
Was this review helpful?
*received from netgalley for honest review* Good book, not what I thought but turned out to be much better lol
Was this review helpful?
The Spies of Shilling Lane is an addictive read. You quickly begin to connect with Mrs. Braithwaite as she desperately searches for her missing daughter in London. The underdogs save the day in this charming read. There was one unexpected gruesome description following a bombing that took me aback. It was not gratuitous in any way, just shocking. There was also plenty of humor in the book with the untrained spies learning to find their inner strengths.
Was this review helpful?
Mrs. Braithwaite is my new favorite fictional heroine. If you are a fan of the BBC World War ll series such as The Bletchley Circle and Home Fires,  you will love this novel. 
Spies of Shilling Lane takes place in 1941 during the London Blitz. The story begins with  Mrs. Braithwaite, a cantankerous village busybody being  unceremoniously boosted from her position as chairwoman of the local WVS (Women’s Voluntary Service), due to the disgrace of her husband’s divorce petition and her bossy ways. Her one time close friend Mrs Metcalf threatens to reveal a  poignant family secret that Mrs Braithwaite has been harboring lifelong, if she doesn't step down graciously.  
Mrs Braithwaite decides to visit her somewhat estranged daughter, Betty who has taken an office job in London and divulge the secret to her.  However, when she arrives at Betty’s flat in London, she discovers that Betty has been missing for several days. That's when the adventure begins. Betty, it turns out is not the office girl she claims to be. Sensing that Betty is in danger, she sets out to find and rescue her, drafting  Mr Norris, the kindly but  meek landlord along the way as her reluctant accomplice. Mrs Braithwaithe is relentless and fearless in her quest to locate and rescue Betty. As the story progresses,Jennifer Ryan brings to life the heartbreaking  nightly bombings of the London Blitz and the effects on the everyday lives of the populace.
 The evolution of Mrs. Braithwaite's  priorities in life come full circle with her reevaluating her stance on what factors constitute success in life. Is it social standing or love, kindness and family?  
The novel has it all: suspense, adventure, romance, heartbreak, comedy and a great ending. 
“Who knows when one might be in peril and need a Mrs. Braithwaite to save one's life?”
Was this review helpful?
I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s previous novel, “The Chilbury Ladies Choir”, and so I was really looking forward to this latest novel.  It comes off as a “cozy mystery”, but was lacking something in its overall delivery.  It was a pleasant enough read, but I was a bit disappointed.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
When I saw that Jennifer Ryan had a new book coming out, I knew I had to read it, since The Chilbury Ladies Choir is a novel that I found to be charming and comforting and a gentler kind of WWII story than is typical. I think that those who appreciated these qualities in Chilbury Ladies Choir will find a similar vibe in The Spies of Shilling Lane.

There's mild excitement to the plot, but less than one might anticipate given the title. The heart of the novel and the source of much of its appeal lies in the relationship between two of the central players - Mrs Braithwaite and Mr Norris, reluctant friends, investigators of intrigue, and unexpected heroes.

A few drawbacks - I found this novel rather slow moving in parts, and some of the secondary characters came off flat. Yet the eccentricities of the main characters and their amusing, keep-calm-and-carry-on approach to the dramas of wartime were ultimately entertaining. I hope there will be another story featuring these two! A strong pick for when you're after cozy, easy reading.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely LOVED Ryan's previous book. This book shares many of the characteristics of "Chilbury", but something is missing. I can't quite pinpoint what is lacking since the characters are quirky and endearing, and the action is swift and historically appropriate/accurate. I loved Mrs. Braithwaite and her sense of right & wrong & propriety. The others (her daughter, Mr. Norris, Flossie, Cassandra) were entertaining and engaging. The plot kept me guessing. I guess my disappointment centered on the "too happy" ending and the almost preachy dialogue in the final chapters. Yes, Mrs. Braithwaite learned a great deal about herself and her daughter and her attitude change impacted those around her, but we didn't need to have it spelled out in writing. 

This is a perfectly acceptable addition to the plethora of WWII books in print over the last couple of years. It's always nice to read about the impact war has on ordinary people, and the current emphasis on the resistance movements has been enlightening. This one is just so-so. Not bad, just not great either.
Was this review helpful?
SO sorry, I accidentally didn't download this before it was archived. I will buy this book and replace it with a real review soon.
Was this review helpful?
The Spies of Shilling Lane is a light hearted read about a brash woman ostracized by her village searching for her daughter during WWII and the offbeat capers that ensue as a result.
Was this review helpful?
This is not your average historical novel based in WWII era. This is a poignant fun novel about a brave sarcastic strong woman trying to find her way in life after a major life change. This was such fun to read and I absolutely recommend this book with 5 stars! 
Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My opinion is my own. 

 Mrs. Braithwaite lives in Ashcombe Village  England in 1941. She  has been unceremoniously canned  from her position as head of the local Women’s Voluntary Service.  She decides to leave since she is disgraced and searches for her daughter in London . She meet all manner of charcters along the way and has more adventure then she every dreamed of.  Soon she is learning to embrace her new life,  meet new people and become the person she is happier and more content then she every was. 

This was so delightful and such a fun read. I loved it and look forward to further work by this fine author.
Was this review helpful?
The Spies of Shilling Lane is an addictive read. You quickly begin to connect with Mrs. Braithwaite as she desperately searches for her missing daughter in London. The underdogs save the day in this charming read. There was one unexpected gruesome description following a bombing that took me aback. It was not gratuitous in any way, just shocking. There was also plenty of humor in the book with the untrained spies learning to find their inner strengths.
Was this review helpful?
A rollicking adventure set in England, 1941. The plucky Mrs. Braithwaite has been dethroned from her position as head of the local WVS-Women’s Voluntary Service. As she considers her lack of standing in the community of Ashcombe Village, her “point to ponder” is “How do you measure the success of your life?” She writes the answer in her trusty notebook: “Social Standing. Reputation. How the world sees you.”

The despondent but determined Mrs. Braithwaite takes us with her on a grand mission to find her 21 year old daughter, Betty, recently moved to London, and from whom she’s only received 5 letters. This is NOT a good sign at all. As Mrs. Braithwaite barges her way into London, by way of Victoria Station, she encounters Mr. Norris, Betty’s landlord, along with Flossie and Cassandra -the other quite questionable renters. From here the adventures begin; including encounters with shady and sometimes not shady characters: Nazi sympathizers, the injured B. Braithwaite, Anthony Metcalf, and various jaunts into the pubs, markets, warehouses, and even the British Museum.

The Spies of Shilling lane is a historical mystery that will keep you guessing and also hoping that as Mrs. Braithwaite searches for Betty she also finds the real answer to her question, “How do you measure the success of your life?”
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to read this novel based on the title alone.  Once I started, I quickly realized I wouldn’t be disappointed.  The cast of characters were so fun; Mrs. Braithwaite ended up being one of my favorites.  I could easily picture her as the details of the story unfold.  I don’t know the author’s intentions, but I would be thrilled if there was a sequel.

Mrs. Braithwaite could easily be described as a condescending and uppity know-it-all who relishes belittling others, particularly the women in the WVS.  She is knocked off her throne losing her leadership position due to her brash personality and her recent divorce.  She fears that her “other” dirty little secret will further sully her and her daughter’s reputation.  She hops a train to London seeking to find Betty and tell her the truth before someone else does.  

Braithwaite isn’t the only one with a secret.  This novel is delightful and entertaining.  I really do hope there is a sequel. 

I received an advance copy of this novel; all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
When I read The summary , I was really  interested in this book . But As I read through it , I ended up disappointed .
Even though The writing style was good  as well as the characters., The story wasn't that much interesting .
Was this review helpful?
Jennifer Ryan does not disappoint in her second World War II novel. When the newly-divorced, socially ostracized Mrs. Braithwaite travels to London to reunite with her daughter Betty, she doesn't expect to find Betty embroiled in London's World War II spy network, and she certainly doesn't expect to embark on a journey of self discovery, to find a newfound relationship with her daughter, or to befriend Betty's cowardly landlord, Mr. Norris. When the headstrong Mrs. Braithwaite does exactly that, hilarity ensues as, though a comedy of errors, she begins to understand Betty's role in the city's espionage and, what's more, takes the city and its spy networks by storm as she offers her own stark opinions and expectations at every turn. While this is a fun, lively read, it also has a lot of heart, as mother and daughter are forced to reflect on where their relationship went wrong and how to fix it, and as Mrs. Braithwaite and Mr. Norris both come to understand that their difficult, unpopular personalities can actually be quite valuable. The book is a well-paced, relatively fast read, with just enough rescue attempts, secret fascist meetings that need sabotaging, and fears of a double agent to keep readers engaged. While the ending is not quite as shocking as it could have been, it still brings this romp to a satisfying end. Recommended for fans of women's and World War II fiction with a bit of levity, such as A.J. Pearce's Dear Mrs. Bird and Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
Was this review helpful?
This novel was suspenseful but it contained a good bit of humor in the personality of the main character. The setting is England during the blitz. The main character, Mrs. Braithwaite was raised by a selfish, straitlaced, Victorian aunt. The aunt moved in with the family at some point and is largely to blame for the daughter Betsy's becoming distant from her mother. After going through a divorce and being shunned by the women of her village, Mrs. B. travels to London to find her daughter who is working for the war effort. She arrives at her daughter's boarding house only to learn that she has disappeared. She browbeats the unassuming, shy, landlord Mr. Norris into helping her search for Betsy. They become involved with breaking up an organization of fifth columnists. Along the way, Mrs. B. has an epiphany about her former way of life and becomes a better person.
I really enjoyed this novel that I would call a light-hearted thriller. I think I enjoyed it even more than the author's previous very good book, The Chilbury Ladies Choir.
Was this review helpful?
Gentle is the first word that comes to mind as I read this book. It is about WW II in London.  About a mother who needs to tell her daughter a secret so she goes to London to find her only to discover that the daughter is missing. With the help of her daughter's landlord who is reticent about the hunt as he doesn't like to disturb the norm, mom embarks on the trail of her missing daughter. Read this tale to find out all that is happening and who the real mole is.
Was this review helpful?
I picked up this book not realizing it was written by the of The Chillbury Ladies Choir.   That was a fabulous novel and this new novel does not disappoint.  Jennifer Ryan is a creative and entertaining author.

The Spies of Shilling Lane is a totally unexpected treat.  Written about a time in history that was horrific and troubling, Ryan manages to find humor and love and relationships.  This is really a story about a mother, daughter relationship.  Growing up Phyllis Braithwaite lived under the tyrannical authority of her Aunt, her parents had died when she was six years old.  This had shaped the woman she became.  Not knowing anything different she married and ran her home and raised her daughter with those same principles.  Now her husband has left her and her daughter, with whom her relationship has grown colder and colder over the years, has gone off to London.

When the ladies of the small village she lives in turn their backs on her she goes off to London to find her daughter, Betty.  With a long held family secret to reveal to her daughter, the brusque, determined Mrs. Braithwaite searches out Betty at her home and place of business to find there are more questions than answers. Through a series of mishaps that take Mrs. Braithwaite and Betty's landlord the shy, cowardly, Mr. Norris on a series of adventures involving secrets, danger and death, they search for Betty. 

Writing about London during World War II and the Blitz, Ryan takes the reader into the meetings of fascist sympathizers and into bomb shelters.  She does not compromise the chaos and fear of the war but does create an entertaining and sometimes funny plot to keep the focus in the novel on the mother/ daughter relationship which is really central to the book.  Also the idea that people can change and look at themselves and discover they do not like what they see.

Over and over again Phyllis asks herself, "How do you measure the success of your life?"
When you are living a quiet life in the country you may not question this, but when you are living under constant threat of death you wonder if you are living your best life.

Phyllis says, "If a woman knew the moment of her death, would she live her life any differently? More wisely, undoubtedly.  More frivolously, perhaps.  But would she more full-hearted, less selfish?"

That is the crux of the novel.  Measuring the success of your life, not through hard work, making  money but through relationships, friends and family.  At each step of the way through the danger and chance of dying, the characters weigh their lives and hope to live to have a chance at making the best choices.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you so much to @netgalley @crownpublishing and @jennifer_ryan_author for providing me with a digital copy of this book. I enjoyed the adventures of quirky Mrs. Braithwaite as she is determined to find her daughter. Set during WWII, Mrs. Braithwaite heads to London for an overdue visit with her only daughter after her divorce and subsequent demotion from her local WVS. When she arrives at the house in which Betty was boarding, she discovers that Betty has been missing for days. The tone of this is light and thoroughly entertaining.
Was this review helpful?