Cover Image: Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night

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A story of a mis-matched couple during WWII. Strong characters, great story. I look forward to reading Anna Bliss's next novel.
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Set in England in 1939 at the beginning of World War II, its progression and its aftermath, Bonfire Night by Anna Bliss is an achingly beautiful historical fiction novel with swathes of forbidden romance.  

In an era when women were second-class citizens but really needed jobs during the war, Kate was a fearless photographer...and Irish Catholic.  During an anti-facism protest she meets David who is studying medicine...and a Jew.  As time goes on, antisemitism escalates and families are ripped apart.  Kate and David quickly begin a forbidden relationship in spite of vast cultural  and familial differences.  Loyalties are questioned and sacrifices and choices are made.

Later, the two now separated lovers live different lives.  The entire world has changed on a massive scale and survivors just want to move beyond the horrors.

The storytelling is lovely, vivid and emotive but the unnecessary graphic adult scenes did not add value to the story.  

My sincere thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with an early digital copy of this engrossing novel.
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This novel takes the reader from 1936 to 1940,set in England ,with the beginnings of the Second World War,  Kate Grifferty, a young Irish women is a press photographer who meets David Rabatkin, a Jewish medical student.  They met at a protest rally in 1936 in London's East End, where there was a fascist protest against the Jews.  There was an immediate attraction, yet both knew the obstacles that were in their way due to the differences of their religion. Theirs was a love story from the very beginning, yet as time goes by they have hurdles, challenges and obstacles to face.  Could they face the sacrifices that had to be made with the rise of the Nazis in Germany and fascism in England?  Will love conquer all?  Highly recommended. My thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Publishing for this ARC in exchange for an honest review?
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This novel, about a female photographer and a Jewish doctor falling in love during WWII London, started off very strong. I enjoyed the first third of the book very much. However, the book fell flat about the the main characters parted ways and one moved out of town. This section fell flat, and I found it just downright depressing. The ending didn't help. 

This novel, in my very humble opinion, needed a re-write. It could have been an excellent novel, based on the strong beginning. The middle and ending of the book tracked reality, but readers, I think, want something to give them hope.
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Bonfire Night was a very dramatic story sharing lessons from World War Two. The author took me back in time to experience the horrors. Her descriptions took my imagination to places it had never been before. I swear I smelt the dust settling after bombings. I felt the heat from the incendiary devices dropped on the unsuspecting citizens of London.

The reader sees the war in England through the camera lens of Kate. All she wants is to be a professional photographer. She takes picture after picture of the war in hopes of finding her way into print. Kate also so shows the reader the many challenges faced during the time of war. A lack of food, shelter weren't the only issues.

Kate is shooting a protest, seeing first hand the animosity toward the Jewish people. She soon finds herself befriending David, a Jewish medical student. They should remain apart. They would never be accepted.

Their forbidden romance is an a major advantage for the reader. I experienced the prejudice, the lack of acceptance and the lack of compassion as they try to build a relationship. Through their eyes, I saw their struggles, their failures. In Bonfire Night, Anna Bliss took the words that usually fill a textbook and brought them to life. The horrors cannot be so easily ignored when they feel real.

Bonfire Night had me crying. Bonfire Night even had me laughing. Most importantly, Bonfire Night has me wanting to learn more. The more we learn, the less we are to risk repeating past mistakes. We all need to make sure generations to come do not forget the horrors or World War Two.
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3.5 stars
Interesting historical fiction about London just before and during the time of the Blitz. The parts about what the Londoners had to endure, and the descriptions of Kate’s photographs, were the most interesting parts for me. Margaret’s character of a feisty little girl was also enjoyable. There were some rather steamy sex scenes that I could have done without. Overall, good historical fiction about WW2.
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Bonfire Night is a love story set before WW2 with some history tied into it, but I would not consider this to be a historical fiction novel.  The story begins with Kate Grifferty, Irish Catholic and David Rabatkin, a Jewish medical student. Their romance is complicated by David's strong Jewish family values and his mother's insistence for him to marry a Jewish woman. Kate is a lonely young woman that is a photographer and trying to navigate life after being neglected her whole life by her dad.  Kate is desperate for affection and is also struggling with the changing roles of women at home and joining in the workplace. 
This story was well written and I found myself rooting for a Kate to make the right choices and for a happy ending to this war-torn love story.  

Thank you to #Netgalley for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.
#BonfireNight #NetGalley
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This wasn’t quite the book I thought it was going to be, because I saw it was about WW2 Britain and a woman trying to make it as a photographer and really just skipped the rest of the description. But I loved this book. I have a real love of complicated characters, feelings, and situations, and this book has all of those. And the ending, I won’t give it away, but I’m so glad @annablissauthor gave it the ending she did. 
Kate is doing her best to be taken seriously as a photographer, but London in 1936 is not making it easy. When she meets David, a Jewish medical student, at an anti fascism protest she can’t stop thinking about him. And he can’t stop thinking about her, even though her Catholic background will make her an unacceptable match to his parents and his community. Kate and David will have to make some hard choices that will ripple down the years and effect both of their futures. 
I was expecting a bit more of a focus on the war and the situation in Britain, this book is truly more about two people who happen to live in 1936 and are struggling with their lives and the times then it is about the time. 
Thank you to @netgalley and @kensingtonbooks for allowing me to read a copy of this book for review. This book hits shelves Dec 26 2023.
#bookstagram #bonfirenight #readforjoy #netgalley #reading #readforjoy #historicalfictionbook #readersofinstagram #reading #canadianbookstagram #booklover
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"Bonfire Night," a historical novel, is set in 1936-41 England. The two main characters, Kate Grifferty, an Irish Catholic, and David Rabatkin, a Jewish medical student, first meet and set the scene for a novel that touches anti-semitism, the Battle of Cable Street (a historical moment I had never heard of), and general views of women in the workplace.

At first sight, there's an immediate connection between Kate and David, but do the two go ahead and forge a romance knowing their cultures are so different? Even though their families wouldn't accept them as a couple? We follow their stories, both together and individually, over the years - an intense, all-encompassing love they both feel in their chests no matter where wartime takes them.

Here's what I did think of the romance - I felt like there was a greater focus on their sexual relationship than an emotional one. Not saying there's anything wrong with that. Still, the basis of their relationship, which was founded on physicality in many ways, didn't seem like enough for the two to feel such intense longing for each other, even as they lived separately for years.

Another thought - I've read other historical romances, and I didn't feel like this one was as much historical as it was romantic. Much of the history was glossed over, whereas the romance featured heavily throughout. If you're into a romance novel with some history as a secondary, this is a great read. However, I enjoy history being at the forefront.

Also, SPOILER ALERT, but it always bums me out when two characters in a romance novel don't end up together. Especially in a book of this intensity, a relationship that seems written in the stars no matter what obstacles present to David and Kate - it seemed to end on a bummer for me. I do appreciate that Kate stuck to her guns - not wanting to get married and live an independent life - but I felt like, "Why did I read all of this just for David to end up for someone else and for Kate to still be asking herself what life would have been like had she accepted his proposal years before?" It felt like there was no "high point" for either character - like they both settled by the end to live a life where they'd ultimately still long for each other.

Thank you to NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a challenging book for me to review. To begin with the positives: I love the historical research the author completed, as it gives the story the authenticity that would be missing without it. 

I also like the premise of two people coming from different cultures falling in love with each other then trying to work out all the ensuing challenges that comes with such a pairing.

In the end, it is pleasing to see the protagonist stays true to herself.


The challenges I have with the story are two-fold: 1) the fact the characters are culturally Jewish and Catholic, but their respective religions have no impact in their lives. I mention this because it is not their faith that stops them from being together (both physically and relationally), thereby making their sexual encounter all the more likely from the get-go rather than being a will-they, won't they thing.

2) Also, while the ending was forecast by the motivations of the characters, it is always dissatisfying when the main characters in a love story do not end up with each other. I feel I invested in Kate and David, when David was not worth my time (the same being true for Clifton, or any of the men in this story). The depiction of Emmanuelle as an exotic but domesticated imitation of Kate, who, if David is happy with her, is sad indeed. The author notes that this is a Romeo and Juliet love story, which it is, but in the sense that the Shakespearean play was a tragedy where death, in the end, is more prominent than the enduring, but very brief, love of the eponymous characters.
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A well-researched character driven historical love story. If you are looking for a book that is primarily historical, I would look elsewhere. However, if you are interested in reading a complicated love story of two people with vastly different upbringings and backgrounds, this is the book for you.

Thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for an EARC of this story.
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This story really broke my heart. I knew with it being a WWll novel it wasn’t going to be rainbows and sunshine but the ending crushed me. 
I’m giving this 4 ⭐️ because it was written so well. The author gave meaningful historical accounts of all that happened in England, really something I had not heard or thought a lot about. My favorite part was the difficult and intense romance. It drove the story for me and I thought it was done well. I recommend if you like WWll books and realistic fiction. 
Thanks Kensington Books via NetGalley.
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Really disliked both main characters. They were selfish, petulant and immature and Kate was really manipulative and petty. If you wanted a picture of a toxic relationship solely built on the physical but *sure* they loved each other, this is it. 

The writing was often stiff and stilted, going into mundane detail in some places but more often gappy elsewhere and the narrative had you feeling like you were just watching it happen rather than invited into the story. Also the dialogue for Margaret was completely bizarre for a toddler, even a spoiled brat of one. 

There was very little highlighted about fascism in London with Mosley or the child refugees. I think that’s why I kept reading instead of stopping the book, hoping it would offer something new to learn. But it didn’t. If you’re looking for more on Mosley, look for books on Nancy Mitford and the Bright Young Things - her sister married Mosley. 

Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are mine.
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Bonfire Night by Anna Bliss had an interesting premise. Set against the rise of Fascism in both Europe and in England in particular, it follows the lives of a young Irish Catholic photographer,  Kate Grifferty, and a Jewish medical student in London, David Rabatkin. The two meet during an anti-semetic rally, David there with his radical brother, protesting the fascists, and Kate there attempting to make her mark as a news photographer, and follows as they try to intertwine their lives and achieve their own professional dreams.

The historical setup and the sensitivity with which the author treats the issues of the time was well done. However, many of the characters were underdeveloped, as were their motivations. Though there were moments of lovely prose, and some lines that reverberated with me, many passages were clunky. I also found the time skips between parts to be rather jarring, particularly the one prior to the very end of the book. Characters introduced in the earlier parts make minor reappearances without much context, purely as not well incorporated plot moving devices, and some are never mentioned again. Myriam, in particular, seemed to be introduced as a foil to Kate, but was never fully realized.  

I believe the author tried to do too much and thus failed to do it all well. It was neither a well-rounded love story nor a well-rounded herione's journey to self-discovery. At many points, I wondered if I should finish it at all. I have rated the novel 2/5.
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A feminist war story, crossing lines of religion, culture, sexism and the lives behind the fighting. Kate is catholic and Irish, David is Jewish and English, they know they could never be together and yet can’t stay away from each other. Their love story is sad and bitter, their lives aren’t their own to live and they’re torn apart before the war even begins. Fast forward 3 years and both are living vastly different lives, dealing with the constant bombings and dread of everyday life. The writing and history was fantastic, but the story was so depressing and had such strikingly obvious way forward, it was incredibly sad and had no high point, the happy conclusion felt more like settling in a world where that’s the best outcome
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It’s a 3.75 from me. I would have liked to give it 4 and would possibly have done so if the pace hadn’t changed after the first half. Anna writes beautifully though, quite a few passages really stood out to me and I will remember them for a long time to come. 
This is not your typical love story but it is about love. Love for oneself, love (or lack of) for one’s family and at times love for your ‘other half’. 
Kate is a strong, independent young woman until she meets David. Then her life is completely turned upside down. David on the other hand, wanted and expected things from people that they simply didn’t want to or couldn’t give. His lack of acceptance of this to me seemed extremely toxic. I found him to be quite manipulative and needy. I’m not his biggest fan. Having said that, I think the ending of the book was definitely the correct one though. All in all, an enjoyable read. I would probably read another Anna Bliss book.
The book also opened my eyes to the pre-existing antisemitism before the war even started. Like most people, I always thought it was the German Nazis that hated Jews and that sort of fascism and hate for them didn't exist in the UK. 
Just as a heads up, there are at least 4-5 grammatical/spelling mistakes in the book.
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I thought this book did a good job to highlight some lesser known historical events in Britain leading up to the outbreak of WWII. I always appreciate when authors shine a light on the seedy underbelly of the Allies social issues, as it makes it that much more interesting that they were able to overcome the same fascist/anti-semitic elements that the Axis countries fell to. The characters in this novel were well enough developed to maintain my interest, but I found myself more engaged by the historical elements than the central love story. All in all, a worthwhile read.
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Bonfire Night by Anna Bliss

This historical novel is set in England mainly from 1936 – to early 1941.  The author sets the novel in pre-war London focusing primarily on two figures:  Kate Grifferty, Irish Catholic and David Rabatkin, Jewish medical student.  Their interaction in the first half of the book sets the stage for prevailing views on anti-semitism and changing roles of women at home and in the workplace  

The writer introduces us to an event most have never heard of – The Battle of Cable Street 10/4/1936.  It was a protest/confrontation between the British Union of Fascists and anti-fascists, mostly Jewish and Irish.  Since I usually associate Fascism with Italy this was an awakening for me.  

I found the first 50% of the book very involved with setting up the sexual relationship between Kate and David.  It completely  took over the first half in my estimation at the expense of other historical events.  And at one point, I questioned whether I would finish. I did finish and found the second half somewhat redeemed itself as the storyline expended.  

This story was much more about relationships than historical events. For those who like historical romance, this would probably be a winner.  However, I like history to be front and center, with romance very secondary.  

 The author never really got into the actual history of “Bonfire Night.”   In her notes at the end. she did explain in more detail The Battle of Cable Street, one of several clashes that took place around England.

I would give it a three-star rating.   Again my preference are novels that rely more on history than romance.  But that is just me.
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A sweet and interesting look at London and Britain before World War II. This book doesn’t highlight a society girl, but a real woman with ambition and a man caught between the woman he loves and the expectations of his family and faith.
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In the  beginning, Anna Bliss describes the whispered words about antisemitism. Anna Bliss calmly creates the  dreariness of hate. How horrible it is to stereotype people. It is insanity. Some make this jarring hate decision without ever having really gotten to know a Jewish person.With just a few words Anna Bliss makes you squirm and the stomach begins to feel like its seasick. The war has not begun yet. It is in the air blowing gray smoke. Nineteen thirty-six is the year  Four  or five  years  years before the sky stopped being a beautiful blue and became blackened by the fighter planes bringing death.

"Bonfire Nights" is also a Love story. Two people, one Irish and one Jewish are attracted to one another. The author eases into this dating game. Feeling their love for one another melts you. Just touching  a knee under the table becomes a sensuous moment. Their faith and ethnicity juxtaposed brings to remembrance the fact that love can some times hurt. All of a sudden the world is the master of  all their choices.
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