The London House
Uncovering a dark family secret sends one woman through the history of Britain’s World War II spy network and glamorous 1930s Paris to save her family’s reputation.
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.
In this rich historical novel from award-winning author Katherine Reay, a young woman is tasked with writing the next chapter of her family’s story. But Caroline must choose whether to embrace a love of her own and proceed with caution if her family’s decades-old wounds are to heal without tearing them even further apart.
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 in to 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.
The Avid Reader
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