Cover Image: The London House

The London House

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Member Reviews

Caroline Payne, was friends with Mat Hammond in collage, he has an interest in History and he contacts her out of the blue. While doing research for a client, Mat uncovers some interesting information about Caroline’s English great-aunt and Caroline thought she died as a child? Caroline was named after her great-aunt, how could she have possibly been in France during the 1930’s and Mat must have his wires crossed. Her father isn’t happy about Caroline or Mat delving into his families past, he believes his aunt Caroline died as a child and Mat shouldn’t publish any of his crazy theories.

Caroline travels to England to visit her mum, despite being divorced from her husband, her mother-in-law Margaret left her The London House to Caroline’s mum and she's been renovating it. Mat joins her in London and they find old diaries, letters, photographs, and discover Margaret and Caroline Waite were actually twins. The girl’s father John was the Earl of Eriska, he served in the navy with distinction during WW I, and they owned a property in the country called Parkley and of course the town residence in London.

The once close sisters slowly drifted apart, it started when Margaret was sick with scarlet fever and Caroline moved to France after she left finishing school. Caro started working for Elsa Schiaparelli as a modernist dressmaker, she ignored the rumors about another war breaking out and Caro left it too late to return home. Was, Caro possibly a German sympathizer, a traitor to her country, and that’s why she was disowned by her family and they told the next generation she died as a child?

Caroline and Mat, slowly piece together what Caro did during the war, they check national archives in England, France and Germany, she also left behind hidden clues, and they discover what really happened on October 1941 and it wasn’t what the Earl thought. Mat opens up old painful wounds for Caroline junior’s family, Mat had no idea about Caroline’s tragic childhood, and her feelings towards Mat change and could they be more than friends?

Caroline Waite was extremely brave, courageous, loyal, and dedicated to her country, she didn’t run off with a German officer, and she certainly wasn’t a traitor. The London House by Katherine Reay, is a brilliant dual timeline historical fiction story about family secrets, misperception, and misunderstanding, war, lost love, jealousy, resilience, hope, discovering the truth and changing the injustice from the past.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley and Harper Muse, one of the best books I have read this year, absolutely brilliant and five stars from me.

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The beautiful art captured my attention. Katherine Reay spins a masterful tale full of likeable characters, a believable story line and engaging dialogue. Savor this novel.. Five stars.

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This book is about family past and present. Margo and Caro are twins and as close as twins can be. Like everything life changes and they go their separate ways. So many secrets and hidden messages are left in the letters between the two. In present day Caroline and Mat work to solve the mystery from the past.
I thought the story was good but I wasn’t quite ready for it to end. I just wanted a few more chapters.
Thanks to the author for the early copy

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A very different perspect on WWII. Caroline always thought her name sake, great Aunt Caroline, had dies when she was a young child. When a friend from the past says he has evidence that Aunt Carolyn was a traitor during the war, she must find answers.
Reay pens a book full of family secrets with no one knowing the full truth. They all assumed the worst. It makes for a very interesting read. As you walk along with Caroline unravels the facts and all that happened, it reminds you to make sure you know the truth before making a judgement.
Well written, and good book for àny and all WWII fans.

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A dual timeline book that follows Caroline as she tries to determine what really happened to her aunt during WWII. An old college friend indicates to Caroline that the aunt she thought had died from polio during childhood didn't die in that manner and in fact, may have been a traitor.

I enjoyed the Caroline character and her resolve to determine once and for what actually happened with her aunt. This books takes you to London and Paris as the facts are uncovered through Carolines research and the descriptions of the places make you want to travel there yourself. The research was well done, sometimes it was a little dry, but overall it seemed appropriate for the storyline.

There were a lot of twists and turns and the book took me places I didn't expect it to go. It is about family, secrets, honesty, shame and uncovering the truth no matter what. I enjoyed this book as it was somewhat different that most of the WWII historical fiction novels that I've read recently.

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One of my favorite historical fiction genres is family mysteries. This one is a very satisfying read. Caroline delves deep into her family’s undiscussed past in order to discern the truth about her great aunt. She also grapples with her own family’s struggles and loss. I love reading about historical sleuthing, especially with archives, diaries, and letters. It’s a well written story and I didn’t look up,for hours while reading it.

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I thoroughly enjoyed The London House and stayed up far too late to finish it. The story takes place in the present as Caroline Payne tries to uncover the truth about her aunt. This truth - or lack of - has affected her family for generations. As a reader of WWII historical fiction, I enjoyed following along with Caroline’s research and her reading of her aunt’s WWII letters. The lack of chronology seemed logical as much research defies chronology until nearing the end. The descriptions of London and Paris made me want to book a flight. The plethora of emotions and dramatic changes in her family felt all too real. I look forward to recommending this book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this arc in exchange for an honest review.

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I have enjoyed everything I have read by Reay in the past and this novel was no exception as it was engrossing from start to finish. It is important to note that this is Reay's first book with the new Harper Muse imprint, "seeking to illuminate minds and captivate hearts." It's not a Christian fiction imprint, and so Reay's fans expecting Christian fiction should know this in advance. It's a fantastic story though, so I hope that The London House will please both old and new readers of her work.

Carolyn gets approached by an old college friend Mat, who does research into family trees and came across some information about her family, and he plans to include the information in an article he is writing. During World War II, Carolyn's Great Aunt Caro (her namesake) betrayed England as a spy for Germany and defected with a Nazi after falling in love. Carolyn is stunned by this news, as she always believed that Caro died of polio as a child. After getting nowhere with her father, Carolyn heads to the family's London House, where her mother is now living. They uncover letters and diaries, and with the help of Mat begin to put together exactly what must have happened in the past.

This book has so much adventure, Reay's research is stunning and her details are intricately drawn to give the reader the picture of what was happening during World War II. There are so many greater themes here, of bringing truth to light, of healing and learning how to accept the past in order to move forward with the future. I think that sometimes our relatives and our parents are framed in a certain way in our minds, and when we encounter new information it isn't always easy to reconsider and reevaluate.

If you enjoy books set in the present day that are exploring the past, this book should have wide appeal.

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

Caroline Payne has always been told that her great-aunt Caro, whom she is named after, died in childhood of polio. But when Mat Hammond, an old college friend contacts her about some information he has found when researching an article, scandalous family secrets are uncovered. Mat has found letters that claim that Caro was a traitor to her country and defected during World War II with a Nazi. Caroline is convinced there is more to the story and she travels to her family’s ancestral London home where she finds, among her grandmother’s possessions, diaries and letters from her twin sister Caro. As each letter reveals another piece of a long buried past, more and more questions arise too and Caroline and Mat hasten to put together the pieces and discover the truth – but will the truth be better or worse than what they suspect?

I loved how this book used letters and journals to delve into the past in what is clearly a very well researched story. The epistolary structure is one I really enjoy seeing in historical fiction since it makes the story feel that much more authentic. The letters that Caro wrote to Margo beautifully portray the bond between the twin sisters and how, even after the War changed everything, how much impact it had on their family through the generations. I really enjoyed following their story and piecing together the clues to find out what really happened to Caro. Apart from the WWII era, this book also talks a lot about the fashion industry in Paris at the time which was fun to read about and look up the many designs mentioned.

The main reason why I didn’t enjoy this book more was the narration style. The story is narrated from Caroline’s perspective, meaning we get the facts in the order her research proceeds which is not in chronological order and is just plain confusing. She goes through the letters and the diary entries out of order for seemingly no reason and it gives away too much too early and the suspense of the story is gone. If ever a book needed proper dual timelines, it would be this one, seeing as it has the perfect type of story line for it too. I also felt that the pacing was a little slow and the first several chapters were very boring for me since I had a hard time connecting with the present day characters and they didn’t seem that interesting either when compared to the story in the past being revealed.

Overall, this was an intriguing read and I liked the story and writing style even if some other things didn’t really work for me. I’m looking forward to checking out more books by this author. This is a book that WWII fans are sure to enjoy and I would definitely recommend it!

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I hate to admit it, but it is true.  I judge a book by its cover.  Frequently.  I have seen novels by Katherine Reay floating around for a while. They pop up on my Instagram, people say they are good, but the covers have never invited me to delve within... until now.  The cover of The London House was my kind of cover, it immediately grabbed my attention and the description enticed me to discover the story Katherine Reay penned within.  My first Katherine Reay, but definitely not my last!  I even went on to read one of those uninspired cover novels once I finished The London House.  The lesson,  Katherine Reay is an excellent author so don't judge books by the cover. 

In The London House, decades of lies and secrets have influenced three generations.  This split time WWII drama uncovers how these deceptions have shaped this family and the path Caroline takes to learn from the mistakes of the past so they will cease being repeated.   So often with split time fiction I end up favoring one period over another, but I found both to be well written, equally engaging and enjoyable. If I had to pick a favorite, I will always choose the historical timeline as that is what I enjoy reading the most.  It was so sad how secrets came between the sisters and the fracture spread into so many relationships across the generations.  I enjoyed the mystery of Caro and I actually thought at one point Margo was Caro!  That she had taken on her identity!  There is a reason I am not a detective!

I found this quote to be especially impactful “When something bad happens,” she continued, “it’s easy to blame someone else, and in some cases maybe it is their fault, but that doesn’t matter. Not in the end. What does matter is how long we hold on to that hurt or that anger. We can magnify the pain, making it worse and worse until it devours us, or we can forgive it and get on with life."  So true and a great lesson: to let go, give grace, forgive and move forward. 

The London House is in my top 5 best reads this year, I am predicting it will become a well worn favorite. The story had notes of "The Paris Dressmaker" and "Hope Between the Pages". I enjoyed reading both those books so I didn't mind at all that bits of this story took me back to those novels. If you enjoy reading Kristy Cambron or Pepper Basham, I think you will also enjoy The London House.

Thank you Net Galley and Harper Muse for the free DRC of this book. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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Many thanks to Katherine Reay, Harper Muse, and NetGalley for allowing me the opportunity to read an ARC of “The London House”.

What a wonderful read! Kudos to Katherine Reay for writing such an enjoyable WWII historical fiction novel. I loved all of her characters…dual timeline…beautiful settings…dysfunctional family drama…and the suspense keeps mounting throughout the book. You won’t want to miss this book if you love WWII historical fiction as much as I do! I HIGHLY recommend this book!

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Reay's The London House is a difficult book to review, largely because its appeal is dependent on how much World War II fiction you've read. In this case: the less, the better. This is because The London House contains a number of paint-by-numbers elements, including (but not limited to) the Dress Shop and the Re-Discovered Diary. Because I am so familiar with these types elements and motifs, The London House did not feel new to me. However, I think Reay has done fairly well with her material in terms of accuracy and in terms of plot. The story is compelling and the mystery of one sister's alleged betrayal is interesting as it slowly unwinds. There's a great deal to like here; I just wish that Reay, like me, had not read quite so many World War II novels.

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Caroline is shocked when her old friend Mat turns up in 2019 to ask for more information about her great aunt Caro. Caroline always believed Caro died of polio but Mat asserts that she was actually a traitor to the UK and defected during WWII to be with her German Nazi lover. What is the truth? Caroline finds herself poring over letters between Caro and her twin Margaret, which she finds in the attic of the house where they lived. The family has kept secrets and I'm not going to be a spoiler. It's a textured read about WWII and loyalty to country and to family. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. A good read.

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Read this because you're an intelligent (probably) woman who seeks to enrich her life through good stories, good characters, and Truth. It's a story of reconciliation, hope, mercy, rebuking long-held survivor guilt, and openness to learning that we don't always know the whole story and we can't always see the whole picture.

Put this at the top of your TBR pile. This author knows how to get you involved in the character's hearts and minds while telling a good story and keeping you invested in the plot. I've read everything she's published and I practically have an alarm set for when she might soon publish a new one.

After a tantalizing sneak peek into a mysterious scene in occupied Paris, we jump forward to modern day America. We first meet Caroline who comes from a family marinating in sadness, shattered by an embarrassing secret that was buried during World War II and a somewhat recent tragic death. Even more than 75 years later the assumed Truth still seems to rot under the surface.

The story gives us the perspective in the 21st century as well as point of views from the 1930s and 1940s. I personally love the switching back and forth of those different eras, it's one of my favorite trends and literature right now.

Why it's great:
Clearly an immense amount of research was done. I have at least a dozen notes in my Kindle encouraging me to look up a different Schiaparelli dresses and events reported in the book. I remember seeing an Instagram post where she got to go to London just weeks before the pandemic shut down began to do research for this book. Yes, that is when I decided I was going to keep checking to see when it became available!

There's an element of this book that only struck me a few weeks after finishing the book that is quite niche and important in this era of our culture where masculinity and femininity seem to be at odds. The male characters embody masculinity in the truest sense of the word (positive and negative) and the female characters live all the best (and the worst manifestations of) characteristics of femininity. In the end, they show the strengths of how we are created. We see how one can use gifts given to us to help others rather than focusing so much on gaining power and recognition.

Something I have read the author share is that many of her novels grow out of different specific C.S. Lewis books. I'm not positive which one this is, but she does mention a talk he gave on the BBC called, "Right and Wrong -- A Clue to the Meaning of the Universe." That title gives you a peek into the lessons you might learn from this book. I don't consider this chick-lit. There is intelligent philosophy weaved throughout.

I received a digital advance copy of this book. All words and opinions are my own.

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I loved how the author weaved the know facts of the missing sister, alleged to have died of polio as a child, we travel with Caroline Payne, the namesake of her long gone aunt to discover what really happened.
A lots of twists and turns here, and love the research that these characters do, as they put two and two together, starting first with letters and then diaries, and then traveling from England to France.
This is a WWII story, but oh so much more, and the sacrifices, and then betrayals, but are the facts correct.
The author did a fine job of weaving this story that puts us on the front in France, and what these people lived with. A few exciting and famous people, actual dresses that were really made, then then the article that would hurt her family. Loved the research that goes on, and thus we have Caroline Waite’s story, and Margarets, and of course, Georges!
I’ll be looking for more by this author!

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Harper Muse, and was not required to give a positive review.

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Caroline Payne was brought up to believe that she had been named for her father’s aunt who had died of polio as a child. When Mat Hammond asks her to comment on an article he has written, he surprises her with proof that she had actually run away with her Nazi lover during WWII. The article was meant to show that hope can emerge from tragedy, but its’ publication would only bring heartbreak to her family. Despite her father’s demands to leave the past alone, Caroline asks Mat for time to find the truth about her family’s history and heads to England. The London House was owned by her father’s family. When her parents’ marriage failed her mother moved to England and now has possession of the home. In the attic she finds a treasure trove of letters from her great aunt Caroline and her twin sister Margaret’s diaries dating to the early 1930s.

Caroline gets to know Caro and Margo through matching Caro’s letters to approximate dates in Margo’s journals. They tell the story of the two close sisters who were separated when Margo fell ill and Caro was sent away to school. Caro settled in Paris after graduation and worked at Schiaparelli’s salon. As Caroline learns more about the sisters, she can not believe that Caro would have done what Mat said. She invites him to England to read Caro’s letters. They show a woman in love with a British pilot who has witnessed the cruelties and conditions after the German invasion and is willing to do what she can to help Britain in the war. Caroline sees parallels between her life and Caro’s. After being sent away to school, her relationship with her parents changed and they were never close again. Caroline’s younger sister was killed in an accident and her family fell apart. She felt abandoned by her mother and her father became critical of her every decision. She sees her quest as a last chance to bring peace to her family.

The London House takes you back to the early days of WWII as Katherine Reay writes of Caro’s experiences in Paris and Margo’s in England. She develops her characters from their carefree childhoods on a country estate to young women who unknowingly become rivals for the affections of the same man. At times her story is heartbreaking, yet offers hope for Caroline’s family as they finally discover Caro’s fate. This is a story that engages you from the opening pages and is highly recommended. I would like to thank NetGalley and Harper Muse for providing this book for my review.

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This is the first book I've read by this author. Admittedly, I run hot and cold on historical fiction, especially set during WWII. What I liked most about the book was the family element involved, that a secret so big would, of course have repercussions for generations.

Caroline Payne discovers that an aunt (after whom she was named) did NOT die of polio like she thought, and is determined, along with her friend, Matt, to uncover the truth and perhaps repair some family hurt, including her own. Through letters and photographs, Caroline journeys through history to discover what really happened and why her family covered it up.

I had a hard time getting into the story and honestly, a hard time connecting to the characters. This happens whenever I read historical fiction, and like most historical fiction this is obviously really well-researched and detailed but it gets a bit lost at times, in those details. Because the story is told through letters, as Caroline discovers them, the chronology is confusing at times and not always easy to follow who is writing to whom and when.

If you are a fan of novels with family secrets and epistolary novels, this is a book for you. The descriptions of Paris and London are wonderful and there is definitely a sense of place established, here. I'm more of a plot-driven reader, especially if I can't connect to the protagonists.

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I'm a fan of everything Katherine Reay writes and her latest has so many of my favorite things: a family with evocative London setting...scandal and sisters torn apart...This novel kept me company on a couple of flights and both times, I wasn't ready to stop reading when the plane landed. :) Love, love, love!

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<b>Note:</b> I received an advanced copy of this book from Harper Muse via NetGalley.

Caroline Payne thinks it’s just another day of work until she receives a call from Mat Hammond, an old college friend and historian. But pleasantries are cut short. Mat has uncovered a scandalous secret kept buried for decades: In World War II, Caroline’s British great-aunt betrayed family and country to marry her German lover.

Determined to find answers and save her family’s reputation, Caroline flies to her family’s ancestral home in London. She and Mat discover diaries and letters that reveal her grandmother and great-aunt were known as the “Waite sisters.” Popular and witty, they came of age during the interwar years, a time of peace and luxury filled with dances, jazz clubs, and romance. The buoyant tone of the correspondence soon yields to sadder revelations as the sisters grow apart, and one leaves home for the glittering fashion scene of Paris, despite rumblings of a coming world war.

Each letter brings more questions. Was Caroline’s great-aunt actually a traitor and Nazi collaborator, or is there a more complex truth buried in the past? Together, Caroline and Mat uncover stories of spies and secrets, love and heartbreak, and the events of one fateful evening in 1941 that changed everything.

I really enjoyed how this book portrayed a betrayal side to the 'good' guys. I did like how the reader got to sift through the family scandal and mystery in letters and diaries, does anyone actually write those anymore? Parts of the book were pretty slow and the main character of Caroline did not impress me much. She did seem driven in her quest to find the truth, but that was pretty much the only thing I liked about her.

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Katherine Reay is another author I'll read just about anything by. Truly. I've enjoyed all of her other books (and that's saying something!); it's really hard for anyone to keep hitting all the right buttons, but Reay somehow manages it. :)

This book is a bit of a departure from previous books; I'd say it's more in line with "The Printed Letter Bookshop" or "Of Literature and Lattes."

I was pleasantly surprised with the WWII storyline; Reay evidently researched the time period and general sentiments, admirably capturing the struggles many families went through and navigating the impacts of travel on one's worldview.

Similarly, Reay thoughtfully navigates how decisions can impact generations of family members; it's never just about the one or two people involved, but can often have unseen repercussions for years to come.

Note: one use of "what the h___," and two characters have a physical relationship outside marriage that, while referenced, is not descriptive.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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