Member Reviews

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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A really interesting novel so well written characters that really come alive.I enjoyed the timeline between ww2and the present.a book and author I will be recommending.#netgalley #harpermuse

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Though different from previous novels I have read by this author, I found this to be a great story. It is a split-time story set in the present along with a story set in World War II as told through letters and diary enters. The themes of healing and our perception of truth are woven throughout the story. I highly recommend this novel.

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Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book for an honest review.

A different presentation of the dual timeline, this time through journal entries and letters.

Caroline has had a difficult childhood following a tragedy. She is approached by a former friend, Mat, to comment on an article he has written about her great-aunt and namesake. Caro's story is told as Caroline and Mat seek to discover what happened to her in Paris in 1941. Fans of WW2 historical fiction will love this book...I know I did!

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Imagine learning a family secret so terrible that generations have covered it up. A secret that has turned your family inward for eighty years. Then having the bravery to bring the secret to light, to question it all, in search of the truth.

That's what happened to Caroline Payne. When a friend from college approaches her a decade later to give her a courtesy heads up that he's running an article about her British great-aunt who had an affair with a Nazi soldier and defected to Germany during WWII, Caroline is shocked. All her life she believed this great-aunt—the one she was named after!—died in childhood. Could it possibly be true? What if it isn't true? Can she prove it either way?

Facing disapproval from her family, Caroline goes to London to trace her family's heritage. Uncovering letters and journals, she searches through history to find out what happened to her great-aunt all those years ago.

This book deals with all kinds of family twists and turns, both in the 1930s and 1940s as well as present day. Will unraveling the tangled secrets about Aunt Caro bring healing? Or widen the rifts between them?

While I enjoyed this book in many ways, it took me a long time to read it. The non-linear discovery of Caro's life was a bit hard to follow, and I personally find books where multiple characters share the same name to be unnecessarily confusing. I missed any kind of faith content as well. But the history was fascinating, the emotions well-drawn, and the ending was something I never expected. There's lots to recommend this book, especially if you like detailed historical fiction.

I received my copy of the book from NetGalley. All opinions in this review are my own.

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This was an enjoyable read and I believe the first book I’ve read by this author. I didn’t really know what to expect but I was intrigued by the mystery of Caro. Finding out if she really was a traitor or not made for an entertaining story. I liked the growth of the characters and the relationships that healed throughout the story.

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A common phrase comes to mind when I think about this book. "Appearances may be deceiving." All is not as it appears in the Payne family. A family secret was buried that was scandalous. A prominent family in Britain had a daughter who was accused of being a traitor in WWII. Her twin sister decided to tell her son that she died of polio. As secrets become uncovered a family is torn apart.

The story follows two sisters, Caroline and Margaret, who happen to be twins. They don't keep secrets from each other, at least that is what they think. Caroline goes to France before Hitler invaded and is accused of having an affair with a Nazi and being a traitor. Years later, the accusations come to light, and Caroline's namesake is determined to discover the truth in the middle of the secrets.

I wasn't sure what I was going to think going into this book. It is fascinating. I love the genealogy aspects and well as Caroline's research into the past. She travels from her home in the United States to London to study letters and diaries of the twin sisters. There is so much more to the story than what she has been led to believe.

This book is one that I am grateful that I read. It helped me envision France before they were pulled into WWII. I can't imagine the amount of research that Katherine Reay put into this story. I am glad that she did! This book felt authentic and that the characters could have come from the early 20th century.

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Sometimes, in life, we are forced to make a choice. The reprecussions of our choices, can not be predicted, but, it is expected that, those who truly "know" us, will accept our choices, and that they were made in good faith. If those same individuals question/ doubt the choice, and the individual never gets to explain, complications result.

This is exactly the situation Katherine Reay has skillfully set up in her latest novel The London House. Something inexplicable happened between Grandmother Margaret and her twin sister Caro that resulted in a
disharmony that passed down to Caroline's parents generation, and then to Caroline. only by examining our pasts can we ever try to understand it, and move forward.

I do not want to give anything away, but no one "really" knew what happened to Caro. By making false assumptions, Caro was forever after considered a "bad apple", and then this led to secrets and lies, through 2 generations of a family.

This was a very interesting read. Thank you #netgalley and and @harpermuse for my complimentary copy in return for my review. #5stars

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This was a unique perspective in to telling a story of two lives during WWII. It is told from a current day timeframe. Not my favorite, but it was good.

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It has been ages since I read a dual timeline historical fiction with the war at its core. I read a lot of them a couple of years ago, felt I had my fill and refrained from picking up more. I felt like I would not react favourably to any regular book in the headspace I was in and only appreciate something truly above the standard fare. With this book, I realised I might once again have reached a point where I would just like a secret-in-the-past-being-investigated-in-the-current-time plotline again. It might also just be this book; it remains to be seen.
The story begins in the standard format, but the writing was good enough to keep me hooked. We have a flashback provided to just drop a morsel of the narration to have us keep an eye out for that scene/scenario to play out later. In the present, we have a woman struggling to feel closer to her father. There are several reasons they do not get along; some of them, as it turns out, are things our lead protagonist is unaware of herself!
Caroline wants proof for something an old college friend shows her. Since it involves her own namesake, she has more than a casual interest in getting to the bottom of the cryptic information about the death of her great-aunt. She begins to dig and uncovers a lot more than ancient history.
The best part of the book was the writing. I felt for all the characters (along with their flaws and hangups) and wanted there to be a sufficiently engrossing resolution. It was not hard to guess the ultimate outcome, and this is where the narrative style saves the show.
I would pick up another book by the author and would recommend this to anyone looking for a story of sisters who may never really get closure ( which is not much of a spoiler), but their future generations might finally feel better about themselves.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience of the book.

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Family love, heartache , betrayal this book had it all. I was captivated from the very first page and only got pulled in deeper as the pages were turned.
I love time slip novels and while some times the present day storyline doesn’t hold my attention as much as the past this was not the case in The London House.

Present day- Caroline is contacted by Mat, a previous friend in college turned historian, about her families past and a secret that he wants to uncover from her families past. Caroline sets off for London England to The London House, the home that has been in her family for centuries. . Upon uncovering letters and diaries belonging to her grandmother during WWII Caroline sets out to know the truth but the letters and diary entries only raise more questions and dead ends that leave her questioning what really happened and who her aunt really was.

I wonderfully laid out story that I just could not put down. Definitely a great read to start off 2022.

Thank you to Net Galley and Harper Muse for the advanced copy.

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Some families talk too much about everything, while other families live under a cloud of unspoken truths. When there is silence surrounding a family’s suffering and tragedies, there are different versions of truth and blame.

Caroline Payne has been living with the loss of her beloved sister since she was a young girl. She is estranged from her mother, and trying to be supportive while her father deals with an illness he would rather ignore.

Mat Hammond reappeared in her life suddenly. They were close in college, but his call was not for pleasantries. Mat is a historian preparing to submit an article for publication that will have mortifying consequences for the reputation of her family.

While her father refuses to discuss it, Caroline won’t leave it alone. She races to their London home, spends days and nights researching family diaries, and then travels to Paris, digging through police reports, and library records to get to the truth. Mat joins her in the quest for veracity. Sometimes they’re allies, sometimes foes. But one thing is for sure, they both are desperate to get to the truth.

This is a beautifully written account of a painfully dark period in history, and the brave men and women who sacrificed life, family, and love to do the right thing.

How reliable is the cliche that “Silence is Golden”? Once this story began, I couldn’t stop wondering where the research would lead. Wonderfully written!

Thank you @NetGalley @katherinereay @HarperMuseBooks @HarperCollinsFocus
#TheLondonHouse #NetGalley
#historicalfiction #bookstagram #bookstagrammer

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A riveting search for the truth behind generations of family secrets; this split-time (and partially epistolary!) novel is filled with intense family drama and intricate details.

In many ways, The London House is not an easy read. In fact, I actually stopped a third of the way through the book when I first got it from NetGalley. But a few months later, I picked it up again, and was able to slowly savor the depths of the detail.

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‘The London House filled me with awe. Its personality was dark and foreboding as it rose up four floors before me that first morning … Stories and secrets lay hidden in each room and I was desperate to discover them.’

The London House by Katherine Reay, is a wonderful dual timeline historical fiction story about family secrets and misunderstandings. With themes of love and loss, hope and truth, Katherine takes her readers on a journey from past to present with devastating repercussions.

‘In World War Two, no one can deny there was a real mix and mess of loyalties. It must have felt like the world was ending and life would never be the same. What’s more, the enemy was sometimes within your own home.’

This book is well researched with clever links of how secrets from the past can impact and alter life in the present. The characters are well drawn out with intriguing diaries and letters from the past engaging the reader. Events of WWII are detailed with secrets and lies in the life of spies proving a real page turner. Where is the truth to be found?

“Your aunt is one of those stories. A woman, daughter of an earl, no less, who worked as a secretary for the Special Operations Executive, then crossed the great divide and ran away with her Nazi lover? You have to admit, it’s compelling.”

Dig a little deeper and it is clear that there are themes of healing through searching for truths and bringing them to light. How one must let go of the past in order to move on. Lovers of historical fiction, especially WWII sagas, will enjoy this fascinating story wrapped around a family mystery that evolved into a journey of self discovery.

Some truths, some absolutes, are above perception. I hope that comes across.” “Powerfully. It’s what makes what we went through, what we fashioned for ourselves, all the more real and even more painful. No one got out of their own way to see what was rather than what they perceived it to be.”

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The London House by Katherine Reay exceeded all my expectations, and I already had high ones set going in to it. I started out thinking the story would go one way, but I was quickly caught up in the current of words that took me places I had not foreseen. It is a story of brokenness, yes, but it’s also a greater story of love, courage, and hope. And though I have not personally lived a similar life to either Caroline, I found myself in their stories, and I was deeply moved.

Reay has beautifully created a handful of flawed and relatable characters in one family, broken for generations, where healing hangs in the balance of finally telling the truth. Of finally learning the truth. Of tracing the fatal tear in the family’s fabric to its source and moving from there toward the freedom that comes from authenticity. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” and Caroline Payne desperately wants her family free from the damage perpetuated down the line by her great-aunt Caroline Waite’s untold story. In these pages, through Margo & Caro’s letters and diary entries from the days leading up to and during World War II, we see a world on the brink of chaos, a family divided by politics and choices, and a love greater than we first assume – no greater love, in fact. In Caroline Payne’s present day world, we find a world and a family in much the same condition.

I loved both Carolines in this story – the WW2 era twin and her modern day great-niece. Watching their very different lives intersect and run slightly parallel held me captivated, frantically turning the pages, forcing myself to slow down and absorb all the masterful nuances to be discovered. The genealogical mystery-solving that present day Caroline and Mat embark on, and of course their swoony romance and sizzling kisses, would have been enough to delight me. But the author took me even further, seamlessly weaving several distinct elements – family dynamics, romance, buried secrets, intrigue, truth, and history – together with pitch perfect narrative into an achingly beautiful tapestry.

Bottom Line: Impeccably written & laced with hope, The London House by Katherine Reay combines several of my favorite elements to keep me fully engrossed from beginning to end! Generational brokenness against the backdrop of genealogical mystery is seamlessly told from past to present (through the lovely use of epistolary style) and brings with it intriguing layers and possibilities. This isn’t a book to rush through – though you may be tempted to do just that because it’s so compelling. Rather, it is a story to be savored, each word perfection and each character relatable. Perfect for fans of Hazel Gaynor & Pam Jenoff!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)

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This was a well crafted book that had me engrossed to see where the story would go. Lots of great detail and intriguing characters

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4.5 Stars

Katherine Reay has built her author brand around her love of literature and while that’s still evident in The London House, it isn’t as prominent as it was in her previous book.

This isn’t the only departure from previous books by Reay as she’s writing more for the general market than the Christian fiction market. The book is a clean read with an emotional and moving plot, so don’t let the fact the author has shifted her focus to reach a wider audience deter you from picking up this book.

From the opening of the book, Caroline is someone I wanted to know more, and as she digs into the truth about her great aunt Caro, the parallels between the two women’s lives are obvious. The dual-time story line (expressed through letters and diaries) adds depth to the book.

Reay delves deep into family secrets, the weight of guilt, and the healing that occurs when truth is brought to light. The London House is a book that should definitely go on your list of books to read.

Disclosure statement: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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"Author Katherine Reay blends past and present with letters and action to bring us this fascinating tale of one woman's search for truth.

I loved the parallels made between the cancer Caroline's father refused to fight and the secrets and shame that ate away at the soul of their family. His refusal to acknowledge the grief this family experienced allowed it to fester.

I found myself immersed in the letters from Caro and Margaret's diary. The way they revealed glimpses of the truth was enthralling. It was also interesting to learn of the various ways Mat found to research public records.

The London House is my first by this author, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. While there were a handful of mild curse words scattered throughout, they were not overdone. One letter hinted at some steamy relationship but it cut off before revealing any details, keeping things at comfortable level of clean. Caro's mysterious disappearance generated mild suspense with hints of evil implicating the Germans. The overall tone was sadness with glimmers of hope for better things to come.

Readers who enjoy historical fiction will want to be sure to read The London House!

I was given a copy of this book. I was not required to give a favorable review nor was any money received for this review. All comments and opinions are my own."

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This story was so powerful and moving. It was about family and sacrifices, it was about moving on and finding answers. I loved the way the story was told in both the present and the uses of the diary and the letters from the sister during the war. This is definitely a book I think others should read if they enjoy historical fiction.

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The London House is a thinking story-a mature story. It is mature in that the characters (all of them) have moments of clarity, recognition, conviction, forgiveness, reconciliation, and a peaceful resolution. Now, there is nothing in the book that is considered Christianese words, but those themes I listed are Christian in nature. I dislike a story that pastes Christianese words so that the book will be labeled as a Christian fiction book. I want to yawn while typing that comment. I want to yawn because it does not help a story by pasting words without development of action or behavior in the characters. And the behavior of characters will be remembered longer than pretty words.

Caroline knows there is something in her family’s past they are not talking about. This is a prime example of not communicating and thus the intimacy and bond with the family members is disconnected and frayed. This has happened in my family. This has happened in many families-the inability to communicate about what is wrong. Communication is hard work. For many of the people I know, they don’t know where to begin. The words will not even come to them in their brain so that they can speak audibly. This can be true in all types of families. I dislike a label that this only happens in families that are not Christian. Pooh.

Caroline is a remarkable person. Despite the disconnect in the family, she perseveres to find a point of connection with her parents. She does not give up. She is responsible, protective, kind, hardworking, educated, independent, and patient. I love her transformation that progresses in the story!

Caroline’s parents struggle. They share a bitter traumatic memory. My heart grieves for them as well as for Caroline. In addition, Caroline’s father carries an unresolved generational trauma that impacted him as a child and is still evident. And it has impacted the generation of Caroline. On multiple points the family needs help. Katherine Reay did a splendid job of perfectly describing the family’s awkwardness and yet trying to find a place to connect.

Caro is a character who I know through her letters and her sister’s memories. Caro is so much more than what her family has pegged her. Isn’t this often the case? People make a preconceived judgement (without all the facts) about a person and then build on that until the person is whittled down to a matchstick of what they really are. It is terribly sad. Caro’s story is the important background story that sets The London House in motion. Caro represents all those courageous people who through action defied the enemy.

I love the story’s relocation to London. I love the places they visit. For example, cafes and tourist stops. Towards the end of the story there is Paris.

The London House is a story that builds. It is not a quick paced story. It is a visceral story. It is a story with a strong focus-mystery to solve-a need to find the truth and reveal it.

The London House shows me some of the characters thoughts and feelings. The primary characters are heavy developed in their thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.

The London House shows me that the truth comes out eventually. But during the journey, there will be other important discoveries.

The London House does not sweep up everything tidy and put a bow on it to show this is a perfect family because there are no perfect families, but it is real and endearing.

Themes in the story: loyalty, perseverance, courage, bravery, redemption, acceptance, compassion, patience, circle of life, sacrifice, romance, suffering, judgment, war, survival, wisdom, grief, hope, justice, and love.

Source: I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Historical fiction readers of World War II.
Rating: Excellent.

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