Kate's War

A Novel

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Pub Date 09 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 30 Mar 2024

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Twenty-year-old Kate is poised to launch into a long-anticipated life of independence when Britain declares war in 1939. After that announcement, her dream of escaping the London suburb she grew up in and pursuing a singing career is quashed: she must stay put with her family and prepare for bombing and possible invasion by Germany.

Living in these anxious times, Kate strives to achieve balance in her life, though a speech disability interferes with her singing and a failed romance adds to her distress. But when a young Jewish girl whose parents have been deported comes to her for help, Kate’s goals change. Taking on a responsibility she never could have imagined, she learns that freedom and survival cannot be taken for granted—and as new responsibilities outweigh earlier goals, she learns that assisting others to escape unspeakable evil requires new perspective, as well as courage she didn’t know she had.

Twenty-year-old Kate is poised to launch into a long-anticipated life of independence when Britain declares war in 1939. After that announcement, her dream of escaping the London suburb she grew up...

A Note From the Publisher

Award-winning novelist Linda Stewart Henley was born in Liverpool, UK, and grew up in Surrey. She attended school in Carshalton, just south of London, before moving to the United States, where she completed her education. She is the author of two other novels, Estelle and Waterbury Winter. She now lives in Anacortes, Washington, with her husband.

Award-winning novelist Linda Stewart Henley was born in Liverpool, UK, and grew up in Surrey. She attended school in Carshalton, just south of London, before moving to the United States, where she...

Advance Praise

One of Hasty Book List’s Most-Anticipated Historical Fiction Titles of 2024

“. . . engagingly written historical drama.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Like a fledgling songbird, Kate Murphy makes several attempts to flee the nest before she soars. A mesmerizing and heartfelt narrative of a young woman’s inner and outer battles at the cusp of WWII just south of London. Another wonderful read from award-winning author Linda Stewart Henley. Highly recommended.”—Ashley E. Sweeney, author of Eliza Waite

“Kate’s War not only illuminates a forgotten part of WWII history, it’s also a beautiful story about a young woman finding her way in the midst of war, which builds to a gripping and unexpected ending.”—Jody Hadlock, author of The Lives of Diamond Bessie

“With its well-developed characters, evocative writing, and exploration of universal themes, Kate’s War is likely to resonate with fans of historical fiction and anyone seeking a moving story of love and resilience during tumultuous times.”—Readers’ Favorite, 5-star review

“…the story of a life made larger and deeper in the run-up to the beginning of WWII. As in Henley’s two previous novels, the creative life of main characters battles with the demands of daily life, and Kate’s singing and teaching of music acts as a foil against the trauma of persecution and war. Henley’s rich creation of pre-war England and the resilience of ordinary people called to become extraordinary make this well-written novel a wonderful read.”—Barbara Stark-Nemon, author of Even in Darkness & Hard Cider

“In this fast-paced, gripping story of strength, humanity, love, and perseverance, Henley paints a drama-filled portrait of a family’s struggles at the onset of WWII. Filled with emotional wealth, Kate’s War is a moving and revealing story.”—Laurie Buchanan, author of the Sean McPherson novels

One of Hasty Book List’s Most-Anticipated Historical Fiction Titles of 2024

“. . . engagingly written historical drama.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Like a fledgling songbird, Kate Murphy makes several attempts to...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781647426149
PRICE $17.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

What a beautiful book! I rarely read historical fiction but it is something for our library that is very popular and what we try to keep new releases in stock but I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It isn’t just a WWII novel but really a journey of our FMC Kate. It felt part coming of age and part exploration of what it was like living in London during this time. The writing was really beautiful and I was way more connected to it then I thought. I would for sure recommend especially for people who enjoy historical fiction.

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Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. This historical fiction novel takes place in England at the beginning of World War II and focuses on a young woman , Kate and her family. This book focuses on the “ coming of age “ of Kate, her family life, her own conflicts and insecurities, and her hopes and dreams for the future. This book was beautifully written, the author spent “ a lot of love” in each and every word and in the character development. In reading this book I could tell that author did her research in the historical facts for the story, was very descriptive in certain aspects of the story.. I would highly recommend this book, it is not a book that goes into great detail about the horrors of the war but more of a character study that shows the true spirit and grit and determination of the British people.

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Kate’s War by Linda Stewart Henley is about a 20-year-old woman (at the start of the book) in England and her experience going through WWII. Kate is a part-time music teacher at an all-girl’s school, St. Bridget’s, in London. In the first portion of the book, she learns of the Mass Observation Project that is occurring so that data can be obtained regarding how people are impacted by the war. It is one way that women felt they could contribute to the war effort. At first, Kate was hesitant and not interested in participating. She starts to tutor one of her student’s, Hannah, who loves to sing. About half-way through the book, we get confirmation that Hannah and her family are Jewish, and her mother asks Kate to watch out for Hannah if something happens to her or her husband, stating that their visa is up and they may be deported or arrested any day due to their religious status. Kate agrees to watch out for Hannah. She also develops a relationship with a young man named Barry, who is going to be deployed to Belgium, and agrees to marry him when he asks her in 1940. After this point in the story, I don’t want to delve further as there would be spoiler’s ahead. But this book was able to draw me right into the story. I have always loved WWII historical fiction, I have read a lot of it. I am definitely adding this to the recommended reading pile for my friends! You really connect with Kate and feel for her and her family. I feel that this book did a wonderful job at depicting the history and drawing the reader in. 4.5/5 stars!!

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There is so much to love about this book. It is both a deeply researched historical novel and a social commentary on wartime Britain. All of this is viewed through the eyes of 20-year-old Kate and her family who live just outside of London. This story begins in September 1939 with the declaration of war and ends in September 1940 with the London Blitz.

The structure of this book is brilliant. Each chapter is one month allowing the reader to feel the steps of the mounting, serious life changes faced in preparation for the anticipated German invasion. Genuine characters made it easy to imagine the emotional stress faced. Kate, whose plans for the future must be put on hold. Her mom, who is struggling with the changes for her family and her fears of what's coming. (I felt her pain when rationing on tea was only 2 ounces a week!) Thirteen-year-old Ryan, the little brother who is excited by the war, feels completely authentic.

I love historical fiction because there is always the opportunity to learn something new and this one didn't disappoint! It is a fast-paced read and the author beautifully weaves the historical events of this first year of WW II with Kate's personal story. I hated for it to end.

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I recently delved into Linda Henley's captivating novel, a poignant tale that unfolds against the backdrop of pre-WWII London. The narrative follows Kate, an ordinary girl with dreams of a singing career, only to have her aspirations shattered by the looming war. Henley skillfully navigates Kate's coming-of-age journey, weaving a tapestry of timeless lessons on resilience, adaptability, and the profound impact of sacrifices.

What sets this novel apart from others centered around WWII is the authenticity of the characters. Kate's earnest desire to pursue her dreams and the subsequent challenges she faces resonate deeply. The ensemble cast forms a tapestry of humanity, each character contributing to the collective struggle for survival.

Linda Henley's storytelling prowess shines as she transports readers to a bygone era, vividly capturing the essence of pre-war London. The narrative is not merely a historical account but a heartfelt exploration of human strength and endurance in the face of adversity.

The characters in this novel aren't just names on a page; they become friends, and their struggles tug at your heartstrings. As the story unfolds, you'll find yourself immersed in the collective determination of these characters to weather the storm of wartime challenges.

Shelving this novel as a "must-read" in my collection. Linda Henley's work stands out in the realm of WWII novels, offering a compelling narrative that will resonate with anyone who appreciates a story of resilience, camaraderie, and the indomitable human spirit. Thoroughly enjoyed every page!

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I might not be able to time travel in reality, but thanks to historical fiction books I can catch glimpses into the past. Historical fiction books tell a story based on reality but written with a creativity to keep the reader interested. Or in the case of Kate's War, pulling me into the story and encouraging me to seek out more truths.

Kate is struggling to find her place. She has finished school but university is not within her grasp. She wants to sing on a stage, but for now she teaches music at her old school. Like so many people at her age, she is at a crossroads. Her life is about to get much harder.

The reader is taken on a journey, experiencing the effects of WW2 from its onset. In many books, especially textbooks, they seem to snap their fingers and England is prepared to fight for freedom. Kate's War tells of the struggles. Kate's War gives images to the challenges. Kate's War brings the horrors to reality.

Kate's War brought out so many emotions. I gained a new respect for my relatives that never really talked about the war and their struggles. Admiration has grown for the sacrifices that were needed. Not everyone carried a rifle, but many were active in protecting the country. The losses gutted me. So many lost so much. Through Kate's eyes I saw all.

I saw gardens destroyed as Anderson Shelters were installed. I jumped over debris. I shook in the dark, waiting for a way home when blackouts were in full force. I quivered as bombs dropped, shaking the ground. Her bravery makes her one of the unsung heroes of WW2. Read Kate's War and be reminded of our past. A past that must not be repeated.

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