The Spies of Shilling Lane

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

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.
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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 .
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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When I sat down to start this novel, I expected a fast-paced ride with menancing undertones. What I got instread was a rather comical cozy-mystery vibe. Not that that’s bad, it was out of left field for me.

Mrs. Braithwaite is having a rough year. Her husband has divorced her, creating quite the scandal. Couple that with her demotion as head of the local Women’s Volunteer Service in Ashcombe Village, England, well, she’s feeling kinda low and sorry for herself.

She doesn’t have a close relationship with her daughter, Betty, who left for London as soon as WWII broke out.  Although she has sent five letters, Mrs. B. has not received a single reply. So Mrs. B. decides to go visit.  During the Blitz. 

When she finally arrives, Betty isn’t home and Mr. Norris, who owns the home where Betty rents a room, hasn’t seen her in quite a while. He has no idea when she could be coming back or even if she has survived the nightly Nazi air raids. Author Ryan does a great job in taking readers to the tunnels during the air raids and how Londoners coped. When Mrs. B. and Mr. N. spend one night in a church’s catacombs, it’s quite creepy

Eventually, Mrs. B., accompanied by Mr. Norris, locates Betty, tied to a chair in the basement of a garage. Then it becomes good-guys versus bad-guys. The story that follows is rather humorous, but stereotypical.  Like sluggin the bad-guys with her purse, taking turns with Betty getting captured by the bad-guys, and ultimately saving the day.

 “The Spies of Shilling Lane” was okay, and that is why it receives 3 out of 5 stars in Julie’s world.
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The Spies of Shilling Lane
A Novel

by Jennifer Ryan


Crown Publishing

Crown

Historical Fiction

Pub Date 04 Jun 2019


I am reviewing a copy of The Spies Of Shilling Lane through Crown Publishing and Netgalley:


Mrs. Braithwaite is the self-appointed queen of her English village, and finds herself unwanted following her husband’s selfish divorce petition. Never deterred, the threat of a family secret being revealed sets her hot-foot to London to find the only person she has left—her clever daughter Betty, who took work there at the first rumbles of war. 




 When she arrives Betty’s timid Landlord Mr Norris informs her that her daughter Betty has not been seen in days, and the fact that bombs have fallen and destroyed villages has Mrs. Braithwaite deeply concerned about what might have happened to her daughter.  



Mrs. Braithwaite Storms into the London Blitz dragging along a reluctant Mr Norris along as an unwitting sidekick as they piece together Betty’s unexpectedly chaotic life. As she is thrown into the midst of danger and death, Mrs. Braithwaite is forced to rethink her old-fashioned notions of status, class, and reputation, and to reconsider the question that’s been puzzling her since her world overturned: How do you measure the success of your life?



If you are looking for a novel with a lot of twists and turns along with a quiet humor you will love The Spies Of Shilling Lane!


Five out of five stars!


Happy Reading!
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The Spies of Shilling Lane is a sweet story revolving around a mother trying to find her daughter in the midst of the chaos of World War II. Mrs. Braithwaite is your classic village busybody--she has opinions on how things ought to be done, and she delights in being at the top of the social food chain. When her husband divorces her, her world comes crashing down as she is shunned by the other women in her village. Finding herself with no friends or allies, Mrs. Braithwaite decides that it's the perfect opportunity to travel to London to reconnect with Betty, her estranged daughter. However, when she arrives in London, she realizes her daughter is nowhere to be found, and may not have been perfectly honest about her work in the city. Undeterred by the danger of spies and subterfuge, Mrs. Braithwaite recruits Mr. Norris, Betty's landlord, as a reluctant partner in her plan to find Betty. As she struggles to be reunited with her daughter, she must reconsider what she knows not only about her daughter, but about herself as well. 

I liked this story, but I didn't love it. It's a cozy mystery with enjoyable characters and a satisfying plot, but I felt I was expecting more. What I particularly enjoyed was the character of Mrs. Braithwaite. As a gossipy older woman with high moral standards, this kind of character seems appear in a lot of stories set in small British towns during World War II. They're typically a side character whose only purpose is to aggravate or entertain the main character, so it was fun to have a character like that given her plot and story arc! Mr. Norris was also a charming character. I didn't always find him as interesting as Mrs. Braithwaite, but having them work together made for some fun scenes. I didn't particularly enjoy Betty--she also wasn't terribly interesting to me, but she provided some additional insight into Mrs. Braithwaite's background. 

I wanted more from the plot--maybe more suspense or more twists?. Everything made sense, but I found myself bored at times. The mystery element was there, but I wasn't too surprised by the different reveals. It also seemed like the plot was winding down at one point only to add one more major event before finishing, so that seemed clunky to me. 

Overall, it's a sweet story that has at least one unique character. After reading the author's previous book, The Chilbury Ladies' Choir and really enjoying it, I was expecting to like this one just as much, so I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy it. However, I'm still excited for whatever Ms. Ryan may write in the future, and I look forward to reading her future books!

Thanks to Jennifer Ryan, Crown Publishing, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and honestly review this book!
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Enjoyed this book. Kept me interested all the way through. Would recommend to a fellow reader.  Love the cover.
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I loved the character Mrs. Braithwaite. She is quite a formidable woman.  And I loved how she dragged Mr. Norris along with her in her search for her daughter. This was an enjoyable read and had me smiling at times. On the flip side of that, there was suspense also.  
Many thanks to Crown Publishing and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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The Spies of Shilling Lane is a snuggle up with a mug of tea on a Saturday afternoon type of cozy mystery. It’s the story of Mrs. Braithwaite who has been ousted as the head of her village WVS after her husband divorces her for another woman. Mrs. Braithwaite decides to visit her daughter in London to try to get away from the gossip. The problem is her daughter has been estranged from her as well. You see, Mrs. Brainwaite is a snobby busy body who thinks she’s better than everyone else. 

So, off to London she goes, unannounced, and like a bull in a china shop, pushes her way into the life of everyone she comes into contact with. What she quickly finds out is that her daughter is missing, and does not work at the factory that she has told her mother she works at. It was a cover story. So, Mrs. Brainwaite (we don’t learn her first name until the last few pages of the book), starts to do a little detective work, and soon discovers that her daughter is involved with spying for MI5. 

What transpires from here is a cozy, tie it up with a bow, happy ending mystery. The plot keeps you moving from page one, and i enjoyed it enough to overlook the “you have to be kidding me” moments. It reminded me of the old black and white movies I used to watch as a kid. The girl running down the street in high heels and stockings and the bad guys not catching up to her sort of thing. 

It’s readable, it’s entertaining. It’s the perfect book for a lazy rainy day, or a trip.
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3.5 stars

You can read all of my reviews at https://www. NerdGirlLovesBooks.com.

How do you measure the success of your life?

Mrs. Braithwaite, self-appointed queen of her English village, with her old-fashioned notions of status, class, and reputation, knows exactly how she would measure the success of her life. That is, until she is dethroned and ostracized from the village by her husband's petition for divorce. When a former close friend threatens to reveal a family secret, Mrs. Braithwaite rushes to London to see her daughter, Betty, who started working at a sewage plant shortly after WWII began.

When Mrs. Braithwaite appears at Betty's home, she is told by timid landlord Mr. Norris that Betty hasn't been home in days. Outraged and worried, bullish Mrs. Braithwaite sets out to find Betty, dragging reluctant Mr. Norris along. What they uncover about Betty's life and disappearance plunges them into danger and a world Mrs. Braithwaite never knew existed. As the duo follow the clues to Betty's disappearance, Mrs. Braithwaite discovers truths about life that forces her to rethink her idea of how one measures the success of their life.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author's book, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and while this book is much different from that one, I really enjoyed it. The story is fast-paced, with plenty of twists and turns. It's not a serious, in-depth book about England's spy network during WWII, but rather a light, cozy "feel-good" mystery about a middle-aged stubborn woman and a timid awkward middle-aged man caught up in circumstances above their pay-grade. (Is that even a thing? I guess it is now.) Their gumption and determination is key, as they bumble their way to the truth. If you have that mind-set going into the book, I think you'll enjoy the ride. 

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Great Britain is deeply entrenched in World War II, and it's against this dismal backdrop that the haughty Mrs. Braithwaite receives divorce papers from her cheating husband. Because of the stigma surrounding divorced women in that day and age, Mrs. Braithwaite is forced to step down from her position as leader of her village's Women's Volunteer Services group.

Mrs. Braithwaite can't figure out why her daughter Betty, who lives in London, isn't responding to her letters informing her that the breakup of her parents is imminent. Fearing that the rumor mill may break the news first, Mrs. Braithwaite sets out for London only to find that Betty has been absent from her apartment for days. Fearing the worst -- that Betty could have been hurt or killed during an air raid -- Mrs. Braithwaite heads out to find her daughter and discovers she really doesn't know her at all. Brought along for the search, quite unwillingly, is Betty's timid landlord Mr. Norris. In the process of trying to track down Betty, Mrs. Braithwaite and Mr. Norris learn a lot about themselves and the changing world around them.

I was so excited to hear that Jennifer Ryan, author of one of my favorite historical fiction novels, "The Chilbury Ladies' Choir," had a new book out. So perhaps my expectations for "The Spies of Shilling Lane" were unrealistically high from the outset. Regardless, this one just didn't deliver the emotional gut-punch I experienced with "Chilbury." A lot of the dialogue felt disingenuous and saccharine, delivering a rapid-fire series of teachable moments that seemed overdone.

Other reviewers have said they despised Mrs. Braithwaite at first, which was kind of the point. She wasn't introduced as a likable character. But she was a good contrast with Mr. Norris, an accountant who is afraid of his own shadow, so these two main characters worked well for me in how they played off of each other. The character development was strong but didn't always feel natural. There were a lot of interesting twists and turns not only in Mrs. Braithwaite and Betty's quests to find and save one another, but also in the relationships between the mother and daughter and other characters.

Although my biggest gripe with this book is that Ryan laid on the sentiment just a little too thick at times, "The Spies of Shilling Lane" is an edge-of-your-seat yet heartfelt story that will keep readers guessing until the finish.

I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Thanks to netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Another wonderful read by Jennifer Ryan! WWII books set in London are always among my favorites, so it started with a big plus right there.  And I'm a sucker for books with characters who are flawed, but learn and grow during the course of the book, and that is key to this book!

Mrs. Braithwaite, a rather bossy, autocratic village leader has been de-throned, when her husband divorces her for another woman.  She has a secret that is being held over her head by her rival in the village, so decides to go visit her semi-estranged daughter in London so that she can tell her the secret before she hears it otherwise.  Much to her surprise, daughter Betty is not at the house where she rents a room, nor does anyone seem to know her at the sewage board where she supposedly works. She decides that she must find Betty, and drafts Mr. Norris (the owner of the house where Betty boards) to help her.

The plot carries you along - I found this to be rather a quick read, because I didn't want to put it down!  I wouldn't say that it's unpredictable, although there are a couple twists, but the action was interesting. And there's a bit of humor along with the certainly serious plot about Nazi sympathizers in Britain during the war - the humor mixed into a serious plot is somewhat reminiscent of the Mrs. Pollifax series).  But, to me, the characters were key.  I loved seeing the characters learn and grow from their experiences.  Maybe it's a bit sentimental of me, but I do enjoy a book with main characters who are flawed, but become better people as they learn from life.
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I loved The Chilbury Ladies Choir, so I was looking forward to reading Ryan's new novel. Unfortunately, The Spies of Shilling Lane is a real disappointment. Whereas her first novel had a lot of charm, this one just feels forced and unlikely. It's definitely readable, but the plot is completely improbable and feels as though it is a Disneyland version of some old gangster movie (or maybe even Bugsy Malone). The characters come across as caricatures, and I pictured them in my head as cartoons rather than real people. There was also a thread of sentimentalism woven throughout that felt misplaced. Is it a spy novel or a feel good novel about loving your family and community? The two don't work well together. Overall, this new effort was not nearly as enjoyable as Ryan's last novel.

I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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There was a lot going on in this book and I found it a little over the top.  I enjoy historical fiction, I enjoy mysteries... this just didn't do either of those very well.  I think I was expecting more of a serious read but this was pretty light and not what I was hoping for.
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This was a madcap romp through London! I found it a bit silly at times but if you are looking for a light quick read I would recommend it. It is definitely not your usual WWII story. 3 stars. 

I received a copy of this from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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The WWII London blitz forms the background for the cozy mystery, The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan. Mrs. Braithwaite has been ousted from her position as leader of her village Women’s Voluntary Service and shunned because of the scandal of getting a divorce, yet her busybody tendencies remain. Part of her coping mechanism involves finding her only daughter who has moved to London to tell her this news and reveal a family secret before she hears it from a gossip. 

On the train to London, she begins a perspective in her notebook that will return as she gets mixed up in the spying business, “How do you measure the success of your life?” Her first response “Social standing. Reputation. How the world sees you,” will not be the same as her last. 
Betty had written five letters from London, but now is nowhere to be found. Mrs. Braithwaite enlists Betty’s timid landlord Mr. Norris to help find her, and they stumble into spying and danger.

Betty’s letters did not reveal that she has become a British spy, nor that she is involved with a handsome man. The daughter has characterized her mother as distant to all her London friends, but when twists and turns put each of them in danger, their fear makes them realize how important they are to each other. A bit of romance here and there and Mrs. Braithwaite’s last answer to her own question add interest to the story. 

If you are looking to read something that will improve your intellect or cause deliberation, this is not it, but if you like a British wartime mystery with a hint of romance, this may be your cup of tea. (Pun intended.)
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