Cover Image: Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night

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Member Reviews

A stunning debut novel and rich in historical detail. It explores a Jewish/Catholic relationship during wartime and also a woman whose job is in a mans world. I loved it.
Many thanks to Kensington and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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I just finished Bonfire Night by Anna Bliss and here is my review.


It’s 1936 and London is an exciting place for Kate Grifferty, a 21 year old photographer for a Fleet Street agency. A job a young woman wouldn’t normally have. She is tasked with getting some photos of the anti-fascism rally in Eastern London. David Rabatkin, a brilliant medical student and jewish to boot, is there with his brother and they happen to run into Kate.

As sparks fly between the pair, it comes obvious to both of them that she doesn’t belong in his world and he can’t be in hers but it doesn’t stop the two of them becoming close. She never wanted to be someone's wife, she wanted a career but David made her want more. Just as they take a step forward, David panics and walks away.

Kate flees London with not just a broken heart and her dreams in the toilet, she ends up at her sister's boarding house, working as a housekeeper. David stays in London becoming a Doctor but Kate never leaves his heart. Two very different lives and one love that can’t be tamed by distance or time.

It was nice to read an historical fiction that was original and not the same as every other WW2 book. I don’t usually enjoy the forbidden love trope but this one was done in such a way that I couldn’t help becoming invested. Kate is a strong woman who knows her own mind. She did what she wanted and didn’t conform to the ideals of the time she lived in. She would have married David even knowing the dangers and difficulties being a catholic girl loving a jewish man. It was irrelevant to her. David didn’t want to lose his family over her. I felt like she loved him more and she was willing to give up everything to be with him. Made me dislike David. No matter what he did after he walked away was not good enough for me.

The heartbreak in this book shattered through every page. It was a bit on the slower side but honestly the ending was a little surprising and it made me smile. I’m glad it didn’t take a conventional route and it made the book even better for me. It was worth the read if you like strong female MCs in historical fiction with a slightly edgy theme.

3.75 stars rounded to 4.

Thank you @netgalley and @kensingtonbooks for my gifted copy

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A thought provoking pre-WWII novel that takes place in Brighton, England. A little different than many WWII novels in it's setting. Thought provoking because of the inclusion of the antisemitism thought. Maybe a novel meant to be read now to teach us that we can learn things from history, not just to erase it! Very good historical fiction novel.

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What an amazing writing of WWII Romance and history. Kate is a photographer that met David, a medical doctor. The location was in London, 1936. They both fell in love. But there was a problem when David wanted to marry Kate. She is from an Irish Catholic family and his family is Jewish. His parents were adament that he could not marry her. Although, he never told Kate this. Kate had to leave London to go work in her sisters boardinghouse. She left knowing she is pregnant with David's child. So she goes to live with her sister in Brighton.

I learned so much of what life is like when two people come from very different backgrounds. It is heart wrenching to see what they both went through. The child learned who her Dad was and had a good relationship, even though her parents could never marry. Also, learning more history of this era I never knew about too.

There is so much history in this novel, it kept my attention the whole time. And it was very hard for me to put the book down. Anna Bliss, you are an amazing author. Your reasearch of this time period was totally wonderful, historical genre is my very favorite. So looking forward to more of your books.

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This one captured my heart when one of the main characters was a female photographer right before WW2. I love a strong female character in a time when women weren’t encouraged to be themselves.

A forbidden romance and the one that got away are center in this historical saga. I connected and felt for both of the main characters. They were pulled apart by religion while the other was never far from their heart.

This one tugged at my heart. Hard lives at a hard time when love could have eased things a little. It’s a compelling story.

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It's a good story and there's an interesting historical background as it talks about the Mosley and the Jewish children who came to UK.
I wasn't a fan of the characters that I found a bit juvenile but it's a good story and tells and important story
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Set pre and during WWII. Kate is a wonderful photographer and wants a lifelong career. She’s Catholic. She meets David, a medical student and he is Jewish. They fall in love. His family won’t accept nor even meet her. It’s a tragic love story. There’s interesting dilemmas for them both throughout. Outstanding narrator. I look forward to more by this author as she captured everyday life in England during this time period.

I received an advanced review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Review: Bonfire Night by Anna Bliss

While parts of this book were interesting, emotional, and heart-breaking it was, unfortunately, slow and almost boring at parts. The main character was unlikable for me, despite her being developed well over the first part of the book. There were some fascinating insights and well told parts, but overall I didn’t love this book. There was some unnecessary spice to it as well. I’m interested to see where this author goes after after this debut novel, you can tell she’s researched well.

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Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an e-arc of this book in exchange for a review.

This looked so promising and I have debated between 2 or 3 stars. I didn't hate it, at first.

We follow a young medical student David Rabatkin, and Kate Griffterty, an up-and-coming photojournalist. The setting is in London prewar and into WWII. These two young, ambitious individuals are really opposite in all the ways that seem to matter but end up falling for each other. There are sex scenes that I did not need to be privy to and they did nothing to convince me of their love for each other. It seemed pointless and selfish. David is Jewish so this is a very dangerous time for him and his family, although, he is not a practicing Jew. His family will never accept Kate because she is not Jewish and that causes the impossibility of them ever being together.

The parts of this book that delve into the war and the many aspects of it are interesting but very limited and broken. The main focus was the romance part of the story of which I was not really a fan. The writing did not work in making me care about the two of them coming together. I was just not a fan.

I think this could have been a great story if it had been written a bit better. There were times when it seemed to lag and other times that it fast forwarded too fast. I would give this author another try but this book just missed the mark for me.

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Well written historical fiction set in WWII London and Liverpool. The troubles of war are intensified by the differing religions of David and Kate who must overcome this as well. Sensitively written and recommended.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the eARC.

This was a well done historical fiction that really did a nice job of laying out what was going on pre WWII and then during/after. Very hard to put down!

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Bonfire Night is a historical novel set in London from 1936 through the World War II years. Kate Grifferty is a Catholic fleet street photographer. She meets and falls in love with David Rabatkin, a Jewish medical student. They have differences in backgrounds and also goals, as Kate is very independent and career minded.

I wanted to read Bonfire Night because of the time period. I love historical fiction, and most especially books set during the 1940's time period.

This is a well written story of star crossed lovers. The historical details are well realized, and the story was engrossing. I recommend Bonfire Night for fans of historical fiction (and especially for anyone who is interested in the 1940's).

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Thanks @netgalley for this review copy!

A love story just before world war 2.
London, 1936. Kate is a photographer. At a anti-fascism protest she meets David, a Jewish medical student. They fall in love, but David is only allowed to marry a Jewish girl.

This was not a 100% my book. I thought it was a bit boring. And I didn’t like David AT ALL. Grow a pair of balls David!
Kate should have been happy that David didn’t want to marry her because of his family.

The setting was very imaginable written. Especially when the war really was going on.
You could feel the disaster and pain.

But at the end it was foremost just a little love story.

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This is more of a historical romance than a historical fiction, I would say. I think that this story had huge potential. I really enjoyed parts of it, like the forbidden romance trope and the settings, but the book unfortunately fell a little flat for me and I didn’t feel very connected to the characters. Additionally, I was not expecting the adult content.

Though this book wasn’t for me, I know several others who loved this book!

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Think of this as a romance set during a tumultuous time in history more than as historical fiction. Kate an Irish Catholic working as a photographer falls for David, a Jewish physician when the world was on the downslide into WWII. Historical events work as a backdrop to their story, which isn't perhaps as uplifting as the reader might hope (and which has rather more steam than is usually present in this genre). That said they are good characters and it's a different take on the time period. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. A good read.

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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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