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The London House

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Member Reviews

"The London House" proved to be a compelling, addictive read that demanded one's attention and time in equal measure. The pursuit of a posthumous truth, so to speak, by a descendant one has not met is the sort of historical appreciation that is becoming more prominent today, and deservedly so.

In Katherine Reay's novel, Caroline Payne must uncover the shrouded secrets of the woman whose name she bears: her paternal grandmother's twin sister, whose entire existence has been a cover-up. When the journalistic curiosity of an old flame forces Caroline to confront the long dead past, she also comes close to uncovering more recent and far more uncomfortable truths about home.

Reay's hold over the plot is commendable, and she dovetails between timelines well, while striving to create a narrative that keeps the reader going. In doing so, she sacrifices some level of detail to her protagonist, whose parallel love story is the sole blemish of the novel, but the shortcoming is not necessarily an act of shortchanging the reader. The themes make for an interesting study of the past and how we view it, and there is rich detail - period and contemporary - to the setting of the novel. I do wish the propulsion of the narrative was driven by more "gallery" purposes, but Reay hems close to a line of reality which she oughtn't be faulted for.

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I have read all of Katherine Reay's stories, so I had high hopes for this one. While there were things that I did like e about the story, exploring grief and giving grace to those who morn differently, I didn't care for a bit part of Caro's story. I was disappointed in some of the content in this story.

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I have typically enjoyed the books I have read by Katherine Reay. However, this one, though one of my favorite genres of historical fiction, just did not click with me. There was just too much whining from the primary characters. I had trouble getting invested in the story and just did not connect with the characters. The author definitely conducted a lot of research for the book, but I don’t think it was carried out well. Plus, having appreciated the author’s “faith-based” books in the past, this one left me wanting.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Muse for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

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The London House is written in one of my favorite historical fiction types, the dual timeline. I completely love when present day characters find out secrets and lies from generations past and feel compelled to find the truth. This book has done it very well. It was intriguing and enjoyable. You won’t be disappointed picking up this book!

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by NetGalley

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This is my first book by Katherine Reay and it certainly won't be the last, I really enjoyed her richly descriptive and engaging writing.

I really liked that parts of the story were told via diaries and letters, it allows the reader to be thoroughly transported into the past and see what's happening through the character's eyes at certain times. The duel-timeline is incredibly well written, there are times whilst reading duel-timeline stories where my mind boggles as to where the story is and who I am following and when, but I never that way with this the two times merge together beautiful.

This is a typical story of one woman's quest for answers, it's about family secrets which cover lots of pain and hurt and secrets which are told to protect.

There is suspense and intrigue, a definite must-read for any who loves their WW2/duel timelien/family drama story.

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The London House by Katherine Reay is a dual timeline story about a family secret that goes back to WWII, the emotional and physical impact keeping the secret had on a family for generations to come and one young woman’s search for the truth to break the cycle of hurt.

The historical timeline cleverly weaves letters and journal entries between twin sisters to revealing the mysterious life of one sister and the present timeline uses the letters, journal entries and historical fact to puzzle together what truly happened to this sister. While I enjoyed the historical timeline better, I new that this family’s healing hung in the balance of finding the truth. This had me reading well into the night rooting for a past wrong time be righted.

Mystery and romance with a historical tapestry backdrop, this one captured my attention from start to finish. As a lover of historical fiction, I would recommend this for readers who enjoy similar works from Kristin Harmel, Pam Jenoff, Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah, Natasha Lester, and Melanie Dobson.

A hearty thank you to author Katherine Reay, NetGalley and the publisher, Harper Muse for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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In a departure from her previous, more "sweet" novels, Katherine Reay brings us a story not just about two sisters, but about a broken family, hard truths, regret, and the undercurrent of love through it all. The London House is profound and intriguing; if a little long and cumbersome to start. Towards the last bit (about 75%) I started enjoying it more, despite the fact that the twists are hopefully predictable and the stitching-up feels rushed. I always enjoy a split timeline, even more when it's done through letters/journal entries (but does a grown woman *have* to call her diary by the name Beatrice, and does she *have* to write as if "Beatrice" is a live human?). Overall a delightful read; especially enjoyed the brief exposition on C S Lewis' radio address "Common Decency."

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This was my first book by this author, It was pretty enjoyable. I would give this book a 3.5 star rating! It was a pretty Quick and easy read!

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This book was amazing! I sped through it desperate to see the history and fate of Margo, Caro and their descendants. It was absorbing, realistic and just a really great read

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I have read quite a few Katherine Reay and was excited to try a historical fiction by her. This one has a dual timeline and the past one is set during WWII. Catherine learns of an old family secret from her old college friend, Mat. Supposedly her great aunt left her family to run off with a Nazi soldier. Caroline is convinced this isn't true and flies to their family home in London. Once there she discovers a bunch of old family letters and journals and she dives in to find out the truth.

I really enjoyed the past storyline more than the present day one. I do love a book with letters and journals as the window to the past. I was invested in Caroline and Mat's personal story as together they discovered more and more about Caroline's grandmother and aunt. While WWII is a huge part of the backdrop of this story, at it's center is family. I loved the impact learning about the past had on the present characters and their current relationships. Overall I thought it was well written and paced. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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I am a big fan of Katherine Reay, and I have read all of her books. The London House has a new genre, style, and tone, and I just didn’t find it quite as delightful as her other stories (particularly her Austen retellings).

The books happens in two timelines. In the modern one, Caroline is trying to get her father to seek cancer treatment when an old friend from her past shows up. He has information about her father’s family that he plans to publish— her great aunt ran away with a Nazi and disgraced the family. The other timeline is told in letters and journals between the great aunt and Caroline’s grandmother. There is a mystery to discover what happened to these close twin sisters during WWII?

While the concept is good, and the writing is too, I just did not lose myself in the main character nor the side romance plot. I am also, admittedly, not too keen on WWII stories since the market is flooded with them. Overall, this was fine, but I look forward to what Reay does next.

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I quite enjoyed this one. The historical elements were really well done where I could feel like I knew the areas that the characters were walking through and I could put myself in their shoes. The story kept me interested throughout which is a plus when I have been in book slumps.

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I really enjoyed this book! The London House had a delightful mix of romance, mystery, and history that worked well especially told through letters and diary entires as it was. I always love it when a story is written through this epistolary "perspective" and thought Katherine Reay did it very well. In this case I found it really added to the "dark family secrets" storyline that was presented in the story.

What I loved here was the well-executed dual timeline, present day tied into the alternate WWII storyline, and the fashion world aspect. Getting to delve into 1940's fashion, the house of Schiaparelli and even specific designs, offered a fresh and interesting perspective. I found myself digging deeper into the certain designs that were mentioned and I always appreciate when I feel compelled to take what I'm reading in historical fiction a step deeper like this. On another note, I really appreciated Caroline's character and the complex family dynamics at play with all involved characters. Strong character development is important to me in a story and this book delivered on that!

The one thing that kept this from being a full 5 star read for me was the pacing. At points I found myself really invested and turning the pages while at others things slowed down a bit too much and I found myself "waiting" to quickly turn the pages again. I've read a previous book by Reay and I firmly believe she is an excellent writer. This didn't diminish my appreciation for her storytelling, it was just a bit of a hiccup in my overall love for the book.

Definitely a book I'd recommend to fellow historical fiction lovers and even those hesitant to the genre as this was a bit lighter in rich historical detail (while still clearly well-researched) and heavier on the mystery/drama side of things.

Many thanks to HarperMuse and NetGalley for the gifted e-copy!

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The London House is all about uncovering secrets.
There are so many layers to uncover over time, bit by bit. Piece by piece.
Letters,documents,diaries and more official bits are found and poured through to solve a family mystery that has caused hurt,family separation and confusion for generations.
The rich character development makes for a fascinating story linking past with the present and a family that finds healing and understanding.
My first read by this author but won't be my last.

Pub Date 02 Nov 2021
I was given a complimentary copy of this book.
All opinions expressed are my own.

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Caroline Payne receives a call out of the blue from Mat Hammond, an old college friend. Mat says he is writing a story about her great-aunt and a well kept family secret that she was a traitor during WWII. Caroline knows this has to be wrong since her aunt died at a young age and was never alive during WWII. Soon Caroline learns that everything she thought was true has all been a lie. She realizes she must uncover the truth and try to heal this family wound. She heads to London to dive into her grandmother's diaries and letters in hopes of finding out the truth.

I found Caro's (Caroline's great-aunt) story along with Margo's (Caroline's grandmother) diaries very interesting. I did at times feel like it was a bit hard to follow since the letters and diaries aren't read in order and it also goes back and forth between present day and the past. I also had some difficulties with the way the book tried to mirror the characters lives and struggles, past and present. At times, that part felt a little contrived. Understandably, the characters all seem quite tragic and broken, but the book does leave room for healing now that the truth has been uncovered.

I received this book courtesy of the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Sisterly love is hard to beat....but for twin sisters, love, intuition and almost telepathic qualities forge an unbeatable bond. But what if a world war causes there to be lies ....little white ones, or big black ominous clouds. Even generations later the truth is distorted and uncertain, based on perceptions and silences.

Caro and Margaret are twin sisters, living totally different experiences of WW2. Margaret's truth is a family life in England. Caro's life is in racey Paris, working in the fashion industry, mixing with the elite. She sends letters home to Margaret, who keeps her own journal covering this same timeframe.

In today's setting, Caroline Payne (named after her great aunt) is contacted by an old boyfriend, who is writing a article on how her namesake betrayed Britain and married her German loved at a time when their countries were at war. Caroline knows nothing of this, as any talk for Caro had seemingly been taboo in the family for many years.
Being eager to find the truth, she undertakes the job of hour after hour trawling through letters and journals still held by the family. Twists and turns of truths and lies....of hints and clues Caro had left for her sister...the only person she trusted.

Just because you don't know what happened, doesn't mean it didn't happen. Will there be redemption for Caro and her family, or was she really a traitor?

The London House would be enjoyed by historical fiction buffs with a clue cracking brain, with just a hint of romance thrown in. It wasn't a fast compulsive read for me but enjoyable and provides another author to have on my radar for new releases.

I received my copy for NetGalley. Thanks to Katherine Raey and Harper Muse.

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I love a good WWII novel that tells the story in a new way. Set in both present day London, and WWII-era Paris and London, The London House audio version kept me listening (when I SHOULD have been doing something else!)

Caroline Payne's family fell apart when she was 8 years old and her sister was killed in a car vs. pedestrian accident. She always felt it must have been her fault from the way her parents pulled away from her after it happened. She was there and witnessed the whole thing, after all, and that accident was when the family completely fractured. When a former college friend, Mat Hammond, calls with the news that he has uncovered disturbing information about her great-aunt, Caroline Waite - the great-aunt she was named for, Caroline runs to the one place she believes she can find answers: The London House.

Caroline's grandmother, Margaret, lived in the family's London House until her death. Caroline's mother had lived with her as her caregiver following her divorce from Margaret's son. Tucked away in a trunk in the attic, are all of the letters that her great-aunt wrote to her twin sister, Margaret. As Caroline begins reading them, she suspects that Mat's information/assumptions are incorrect. When she pairs the letters with her grandmother's diaries from the same time period, she's sure of it. As they work together to piece together a life that was lived, on one hand in the very public eye of high fashion, but on the other hand in the highly secretive life of espionage, can they follow the tiniest of breadcrumbs to the truth?

While this is kind of billed as a historical romance, it is far closer to a mystery, or a suspense novel with a touch of romance thrown in for flavor. Mat and Caroline started with Mat's premise that her great-aunt was a traitor and ran off with her German lover. Caroline had actually been told that the great-aunt died in childhood, but when her father confirms that the aunt actually died as an adult, she is willing to look further. I love how invested they both get in the story, and how the truth sets the whole family free.

Readers who love anything WWII will enjoy this story. As I said, it grabbed hold of me from the start and kept my interest right through the conclusion. I absolutely recommend!

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Secrets destroy lives. Grief destroys lives. The Payne family has lived under the weight of secrets and grief for generations. Caroline's immediate family fractured when her sister was killed in an accident, but she didn't realize there was a deeper reason that her family fell apart - the supposed betrayal of her great-aunt Caroline (called Caro) during World War II. When Caroline learns the story she was told about her aunt was a lie, she determines to learn what she can about the woman she was named after. Along the way, she discovers healing, love, and redemption.

As I started reading, I didn't really know what to expect from this novel - I've enjoyed several of Katherine Reay's other books, but this one is split time, which can be hit or miss for me. We can file this one under "hit."

This story is captivating and so beautifully plotted. The truth about Caro is revealed slowly through letters, journals, and government documents, and I wasn't ever entirely sure what Caroline would find out about her great aunt. The story is also heartbreaking - so many lives were impacted by Caro's actions during the war, both positively and negatively. My heart hurt for Caro's sister Margaret, who died before learning the truth, and for Caroline's father (Margaret's son), who lived with parents unable to fully love him or each other because of their grief and pain. While some of the letters and journal entries did feel a little long for my taste (I would've preferred to have them broken up more with scenes from the present), overall I really enjoyed this novel and the experience of reading it. I know the story is fictional, but it absolutely feels like it could be the truth, and it's both tragic and hopeful.

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I have read and enjoyed a number of this author’s earlier novels. In my opinion, Ms. Reay’s first foray into historical fiction has been most successful. I recommend this dual time line story, even knowing that there are many such novels that take look at WWII, just as this one does.

Caroline, the Caroline of the present, is trying to be a good daughter. She has left law school so that she can be available to her father who has a serious illness. She finds satisfaction in her work for a pharmaceutical company whose products will, she feels, help others.

Caroline has a bit of a tough back story. She has a rather successful brother but lost a sister in a tragedy. This ripples into Caroline’s feelings about her family and theirs about her. Further, Caroline’s mom has been living in England and they have unresolved issues.

When Caroline hears from Mat, a college friend, she is thrown into a family mystery. Was Caroline’s aunt, also name Caroline, a traitor or not? What happened in her relationship with her identical twin (and present day Caroline’s grandmother) Margaret that led them to grow apart? Follow along as Mat and Caro learn more while in London.

The story is told through narrative but also through letters and diary entries. Readers enjoy a contemporaneous view of the events that shape Caro and Margo’s world. Early in the novel, Margo worries about the war while Caro, who is enjoying life in Paris, seems less worried by the behavior of Hitler. Margo spends time at the family country estate; after being ill she retreats and loses some of her gusto; will this change? Carol works for Elsa Schiaparelli. I enjoyed learning more about this fashion house and its unique designs, influenced in part by Dali. What will Caro do when she returns (at least temporarily) to England?

No spoilers, so readers will need to pick up the novel to find out what happened to Caro and Margo. They will see how these events played out in the lives of Caroline’s parents and in Caroline’s own world as well.

This is historical fiction done well. I recommend The London House.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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I love a historical fiction novel that goes back and forth in time. Carolyn and her friend Mat begin to dig into her family's past to find out if her great-aunt was really a traitor and Nazi sympathizer during WWII. Going through letters and diaries, Carolyn and Mat begin to uncover secrets that lead to one night that changed her family forever. This is a great novel that is well research and even better written.

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