Cover Image: The London House

The London House

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Member Reviews

I love World War fiction and was immediately intrigued by the beginning of the book. Its a very complex storyline with the dual timelines and Caroline and Mat trying to uncover the truth of Caroline Waite’s past. Its messy.

The story is about 2 Carolines, one that lived 80 years ago and one in present day. They are family but you wouldn’t know it as the Payne family has rewritten their own history and kept secrets and lied. I really felt for Caroline Payne (present one, although the past one was treated harshly a lot) as a lot of it was her circumstances that she couldn’t change.

“I wondered how much my dad had missed, how much I had missed, by focusing on what was absent rather than what was in front of us.” (location 1786)

Caroline has her old time friend Mat come to London to look through the letters, he is a historian/family history excerpt-which I thought was a fun addition. Its not normally a job you read about. But Caroline and Mat have a past too. All of Caroline’s life has been shadowed and haunted by her family’s secrets and lies and has affected how she lives and interacts with others.

With the race to beat the clock and uncover the truth, the letters and diary entries as well seeing if Caroline can make amends with her past and family – I couldn’t put it down. I had to keep reading to see how it would all turn out.

At the end it seemed to be tied up all nice and HEA without a finality. The epilogue wasn’t really an epilogue. And for the years of grief and isolation Caroline’s family experienced, some of the ending seemed unbelievable. But I still liked the book.

I have read a few of Reay’s other books and this has a different tone, but letters and quoting Austen seem to be a given. Her prose made it easy for me to fall into this world and it intrigued to me to look up what facts and people were real and lead me down internet search rabbit holes a time or two. 🙂 Reay is a gifted storyteller.

I received a complementary e-book copy from the publisher and these are my own thoughts and opinions.

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This story was a little hard for me to enjoy because I got given THE most terrible ARC ebook, the paragraphs were all switched around! So I'm looking forward to rereading it when the published version arrives at the library. I'll be honest and say that I was expecting a time-split novel and was so surprised when it wasn't. Instead the connection to the past is through old letters and diary entries, which was really interesting to me as I've never read a book quite in that style before. Now, the start of the book is a little hard to get into, it felt a bit like starting a movie in the middle trying to work out who's who and what's happening. But once you get through a few chapters, the story grabs you and doesn't let go. I did find the book quite heavy, not necessarily in a bad way, but I did find it was good to take little mini breaks from the deep emotions the characters were working through. That's probably just me though, I like my 'airy-fairy' romances lol! I loved the characters in the book, they all felt very real, especially modern-day Caroline. She is messy. She makes so big mistakes. She's human. Sad to say that this book isn't really a romance but there is a little in there so that made me happy.

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This is a compelling dual timeline novel set in World War II and the present day. When Caroline’s old college friend Mat shows up at her door, he is not there to exchange pleasantries, but to reveal family secrets. Caroline is so shocked by these revelations that she flies to her grandmother’s house in London, determined to find the truth. What she finds are much more than family secrets. She uncovers a rich, life-changing history and a written portrait, drawn in letters and diary entries, of a little-known relative. The character development and world-building really drew me in, and the story kept me riveted throughout. The WWII historical research is very well done. This intriguing novel of secrets, lies, war, and spies will keep you captivated and turning the page. Fans of historical fiction, World War II Novels, and family history will enjoy this fascinating tale.

I received a free copy of this book from Harpermuse Books via Austenprose PR. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

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The London House is an incredible novel. It is not a typical dual-time novel, but it does touch two different time periods.
Caroline Payne is given information about her great-aunt Caroline. Information that challenges everything she, and the rest of her family, ever knew about this aunt.
Determined to find out what really happens, she goes to London, to the London House.
There, she reads through old letters and diaries, ones that belonged to Margo (her grandma)and her twin sister Caro.
Through those pages, you are taken back to a time during World War II. A time of tremendous turmoil, in London, and also in Paris.
In addition to the mystery of their family history, there is also the added dimension of lots of family dysfunction. Painful past, difficult times, deaths, and more. Ms. Reay has written this in a thought-provoking manner, and I found this story very relatable.
I loved getting to know the present day Caroline, and seeing how she was able to work through some of her own relationship issues as she read about Margo and Caro's lives.
Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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I was absolutely blown away by this book. Katherine Reay has a way of writing real, poignant tales, but this book left me without words. I was full of emotions and not even close to being ready to say goodbye. Caroline’s desire to uncover the truth and exonerate her family’s tarnished name left me unable to pause at a single point. The story is told from a few different perspectives, and I could not get enough of each of them. Caroline’s aunt was a twin and both sisters have stories to tell. As Caroline seeks the truth through their letters, the stories unfold. The power of family and love is woven throughout. The pain of their stories is heart wrenching, deeply touching, and still beautiful. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley and all opinions expressed are solely my own, freely given.

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This book was such a delightful treat! I've been waiting to read a Katherine Reay book for such a long time now; but with the endless other books that I've committed to, it just didn't seem likely.

I am beyond impressed with her writing. From the first page I knew that I'd found a gem.

When I read a book I'm looking for that story that is an immersive experience. I like to be able to feel like I'm in the book--as weird as that sounds. And that wasn't a challenge at all with this one.

For Caroline Payne and her family, the truth is a tricky thing. Her great-aunt's past is called into question when one of Caroline's old school friends--and former crush--Mat, decides to write about her aunt, and her German lover during the time of WWII. But, not all is as it seems.

We get old letters and flashbacks into the life of Caroline's great-aunt (also Caroline) and what she was actually dealing with during this period.

Besides getting those dramatic peeks, I would say that the effect that her sordid history have on the present Caroline and her family is the most heart-wrenching part of this story. To see the pain that her entire family has been in since WWII--all because of what they suspect happened--it's just awful.

By the end of the story I was sad, hopeful, and encouraged by the lives of these characters and the promise of what the future would hold.

I can't wait to read more from this author--I'm so glad that she already has so many other books published!

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Katherine Reay is one of my favorite authors. After reading her first book Dear Mr. Knightley, I was a fan. This is a bit of a departure from her previous books and really shows her writing bone fides with regard to historical fiction. This story has something for everyone including romance, compelling family dynamics, heart wrenching drama, suspense, mystery, WWII history, spies, gourmet food, and high fashion.

The main theme centers around how lies and misinformation from the past affect the present. Caroline always believed she was named after her great aunt Caroline (Caro) who died of polio at age seven. When Mat, an old college friend, shows up at her work with a fantastical story he wants to publish about her family, her world quickly begins to crumble. Apparently, her great aunt didn’t die as a child and is accused of being a traitor and defecting to Nazi Germany during WWII. Vowing to redeem her family and discover the truth, Caroline begs Mat to hold off on the article while she travels to her family’s ancestral home in England, “the London House,” to search out what really happened.

Juxtaposed with this is Caroline’s own past. There’s clearly a history with Mat and one gets the sense that they were once close but something happened. This history is teased out throughout the book. The other issue affecting Caroline is the tragic death of her sister as a child which completely changed her and her family. Searching for the truth about Caro not only solves the mystery of the past, but provides Caroline with the power and courage to change her future. It’s a powerfully emotional story of family, redemption, sacrifice, and hope.

I would consider this a dual time period novel, but the past is uniquely told mainly through letters, diaries, and documents from government archives. It takes the reader to several fashionable locations,: Boston, London, and Paris and cleverly mixes the historical with the fictional. I loved learning a little bit about Schiaparelli’s avant-garde couture fashion house of the 1930’s-40’s in Paris, including the famous “Lobster dress.”

The story takes awhile to get into because of the need to build a strong foundation and introduce all the characters, but once Caroline begins reading her grandmother’s and Caro’s letters and diaries the story really picks up and doesn’t let you go. It’s a touching story that brought me to tears. The last third of the book I was completely engrossed and the suspense was intense..

Highly recommend this book! It’s definitely unforgettable. (There is an implied love scene, but no details are given.) Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an e-arc and to the author for a paperback copy of this book. All opinions are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

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A beautiful and powerful story of secrets, lies, and unlocking the pain of the past. Brilliantly told split time novel, the past told through letters and diary entries. Cannot highly recommend this book enough.

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I'm a huge fan of Katherine Reay's and have read all of her books. BUT this one, London House, is her best work in my opinion and my new FAVE. Completely captivating, historically fascinating, with backstory layers and love interests that kept me reading into the wee hours. I recommend this novel to any fan of Reay's and lovers of historical Christian fiction. My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this novel for this honest review.

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From the desk of Gwendalyn Anderson

A captivating historical fiction that superbly interweaves fiction with historical elements and people. An intriguing story of family secrets that cast long shadows
Who was Caroline Waite?

Caroline Payne finds herself faced with the fact that her family hasn’t always been very truthful. Especially in regards to her namesake her aunt Caroline. Whom she told died of polio as a child. Recently contacted by historian Mat Hammond, who is an old college friend. Devastating allegations have come to light and Mat has unearthed information regarding her great aunt. Who was a twin sisterhood her grandmother, Margret Waite Payne.

A wonderful book full of heart wrenching family dynamics, curage and loss. Richly detailed historical fiction, that focuses on fractured relationships and age old family secrets.

A book that physically grabs the reader right from the start. The author swiftly moves the reader in a dual timeline narrative, through documents, pictures and letters. Expertly presented with quick pace you find yourself completely immersed within the pages. An outstanding WW2 fiction with an incredible storyline that flows with the authors seamless narration.

Reay gives the reader each piece of the puzzle, chapter by chapter, until you finally understand the big picture. The characters are well developed and completely three dimensional.

I have read and enjoyed all of Katherine Reay’s other books, but to me this is the best one yet!!

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I was looking so forward to this novel. It had a great premise, but unfortunately, it just didn't engage me. Right off the bat, I didn't like the interaction between the main character and her eventual love interest. The writing was fine but the style was not for me.

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Review will be posted on 11/16/21

Caroline Payne is living a normal life in Boston until she receives a phone call which changes her family's life. The call is from Mat, her friends from college, whom she used to have a crush on. Mat is writing an article and has come across information that applies to Caroline's family, in particular, her great-aunt. He has uncovered some family secrets about her great-aunt and namesake, Caroline Waite. She worked for the British government during WWII, but there was a bit of a scandal. She left her government job, pretty much disappeared, and as rumor would have it, she left to be with her Nazi lover. Cue the shock. Well, this is even more shocking as Caroline thought her great-aunt Caroline died from polio at a young age. How could she have been working for the British government? Are Mat's claims accurate? In order to figure out her family's secrets (and hopefully clear her aunt's name), she travels to London to not only visit her mother, but to visit her family's house with the hopes that she can read some of the letters her grandmother and aunt wrote through the years. Perhaps the answers are in there. She also hopes to find out the truth of what happened to help her father heal as this secret has caused some major stress over the years. Katherine Reay's historical family drama, The London House, is filled with mysteries and family secrets that span decades.

I really liked Caroline from the start of The London House. She always thought her Aunt Caroline died young, but as she uncovers family secrets, she realizes that her grandmother and great-aunt were very close and that she did not die in childhood. That was a coverup, but what for? Her grandmother and great-aunt exchanged letters for years and once Caroline starts poring over them, the truth slowly floats to the surface. On the periphery is Mat, who is essentially wanting to write a very revealing and reputation damaging article about her aunt. Even he comes along to London, with Caroline's insistence, to help her get to the bottom of this before he writes his tell-all article. As they spend more time together, they start to get closer again.

I adored the setting of The London House, specifically the ancestral home of Caroline's family. I felt like there were secrets around every turn and treasures lurking in every closet. I loved the idea of looking through a long-lost relative's letters to figure out a family secret. It was a neat way to relive the past and gain a different perspective. My only issue with The London House was the amount of letters. If you don't like stories told in this manner, take this into consideration, although I will admit this was a nice break from the usual dual time line historical novel.

Oh, the secrets in The London House! Caroline eventually comes across the truth and it's both heartbreaking and courageous. It definitely tugged on my heartstrings. So if you are a fan of historical fiction and love a good family drama, I urge you to pick up a copy of The London House.

Are you a fan of Katherine Reay's novels? Is The London House on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments below.

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Caroline Payne receives a phone call from an old college friend Mat Hammond, who is a historian, stating that Caroline’s British great aunt betrayed her family and country to marry her German lover. Caroline and Mat travel to the London House which is Caroline’s family’s ancestral home, to go through letters and diaries to find answers. Was her aunt actually a Nazi collaborator or is there more to the story?

You all know I am obsessed with WW2 historical fictions and this one did not disappoint. The dual timeline story included family secrets, misconceptions, lost love, jealously, resiliency, and so much more. The journey from misconception to truth was brilliant! I am a big fan of Katherine Reay.

Thank ya NetGalley and Harper Muse for this free copy!

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I was really looking forward to reading The London House by Katherine Reay. I loved Dear Mr. Knightley and the premise of The London House sounded so good. I mean learning that your family history is a lie? That the aunt who you were named after and supposedly died at a young age may have not really died at a young age, but betrayed her family and country? Add in that it is partially an epistolary novel? Sign me up!

Sadly, I really struggled to get into this story and I had trouble connecting with the main characters. Things also seemed a bit confusing to me as I tried to piece things together. I am sure this well research story is one that many people will like. I just couldn’t get invested enough in the characters and their history.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

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First of all, let me just say I loved this story. LOVED. I have enjoyed all of Katherine Reay's novels I've read, but this one is right up there with some of her early, complex, emotional journey stories with characters that seem very, very real.

Next, let me clarify a bit about the novel. It has less to do with the London House of the title and more to do with its occupants. And yet, the house is also a character.

More clarity about the story, this time from Reay's Instagram post on publication day: "It’s my first foray into split-time fiction and my first foray into historical fiction — I loved every aspect of it. I loved interweaving the two time periods and, through letters and diary entries, making the past directly accessible and relevant for the contemporary storyline. I loved the research — the war, the movement of nations, the policies, the drama, and — of course — the fashions."

The book takes place in present day with letters and diary (journal? IYKYK) entries bouncing us back into the 30s and 40s in London and Paris. It is interwoven seamlessly (or as close as I can tell...see next paragraph).

Finally, let me offer a suggestion. I read the NetGalley galley proof ebook, and this is probably the first time I have struggled with errors in the text to the point that I wished I'd had the print book to keep the letters in order and not split apart in weird places! So I highly recommend reading this in print. It is infinitely easier to flip back and remind yourself of something in a letter from the previous chapter, than it is to figure out why one of the three letters from the 1930s is half here and half elsewhere. I'm sure the official Kindle copy is fine, but if you're like me and like to revisit letters in a novel, print would be best.

Thank you to the author and publisher and NetGalley for a review copy. All thoughts are my own.

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I just finished this book and I am overwhelmed. What an amazing story, so well-written, with characters who jump off the page demanding your attention.

Caroline Payne is contacted by a college friend named Mat. He’s writing an article on a Nazi officer named Paul Arnim, and says that Caroline’s great aunt Caroline was a traitor who ran off with Paul in Paris. Caroline was told she died as a child, but discovers that the information that she was a traitor negatively affected her family for decades, especially Margo, her grandmother and Caroline’s twin sister.

Caroline needs to find out more, so she and Mat go to the family’s house in London, where her mother is living. They pore over letters, diaries, and official records, and what they discover will rock Caroline’s family yet again.

I can’t say enough about this one, it’s a must read. If I could give more than 5 stars I would.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Caroline Payne is approached by old college friend, Mat Hammond who is writing an article. While doing research for a family, he discovered that a secret about Caroline’s namesake and aunt, Caroline. Caroline was told that her aunt died of polio as a child, but that is not the truth. It turns out that the twin sister of Caroline’s grandmother betrayed her country. She went to France to be with her German officer lover. Caroline does not believe this is the truth. She heads the family home in London to dig through letters and diaries buried in a trunk in the attic. The more Caroline reads, the more questions she has about Caroline Waite. Caroline and Mat keep digging until they uncover the truth. The London House by Katherine Reay is an engaging story. I thought The London House is well-written with developed characters. This story takes readers from the present day to the late 1930s and early 1940s. I can tell the author did her research for this story. The details are what brings this novel to life. Katherine Reay brings her world and characters alive with her descriptive writing. The pacing varies throughout the book (action speeds it up while overly detailed sections slow it down) and I thought the book was a little long. Quite a big of the story is told through letters and diary entries (very realistic) as Caroline and Mat work to uncover the truth. I wish the story had followed a straightforward timeline. It would have made for easier reading. I enjoyed the tie into Elsa Schiaparelli. I enjoyed the descriptions of her design house and her gorgeous dresses. Those who love historical fiction especially the World War II era will enjoy reading The London House. The London House is a dual timeline novel about misperceptions, misunderstandings, love, jealously, hope, and injustice.

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I find that ever since joining bookstagram I haven’t read as much historical fiction as I used to. I always forget how much I love it, and boy oh boy The London House by Katherine Reay certainly did not disappoint. This was quite emotional, from family secrets and long held grievances, we see Caroline and her family fall apart and come together. Caro’s letters to her twin Margaret revealing clues into her life during the War seemed well researched and were well written. Reay plays on your emotions in this one, and gives us a new way to interpret history. All in all I found this to be a quite bittersweet reading experience!

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As a fan of historical fiction, I really wanted to like this book, but sadly it didn’t resonate as I had hoped. I just couldn’t connect no matter how many times I returned to it. The flashforwards/flashbacks were a tad confusing, and I struggled to engage with the protagonists.

That said, full marks to Katherine Reay for her meticulous research that provided fascinating insights into the period.

Thank you to the publisher, Harper Muse, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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#TheLondonHouse #NetGalley

Caroline Waite, carries a burden and it has effected every part of her life. When an old friend, wants expose what happened in her family back in the 1940's, Caroline, has no idea, that her life is about to change. In searching old letters and diaries, Caroline tries to piece together what happened so long ago. The stories that her family believed, had created a chasm of hurt and old secrets. To find out what happened in the past, is what Caroline hopes, will mend her future. Well written, and set in two time periods. I got caught up in the story, it was so good.

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