In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.
Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.
Illuminating the story of these two women separated by generations and experience, Julia Kelly transports us to World War II London in this heartbreakingly beautiful novel through forgotten antique treasures, remembered triumphs, and fierce family ties.
Synopsis from Amazon
This advance reader's copy was sent to me by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Any opinions are entirely my own.
I've always been incredibly interested in England and it's history; it's one of the main reasons I even went to live there for a year! Learning about the monarchy, it's history, England's role in shaping the world we know today has always been a passion of mine. When Simon & Schuster sent me the ARC of The Light Over London I was really excited because the synopsis sounded fabulous!
I LOVED Learning About the Ack Ack Girls
I had never heard of the Ack Ack Girls and their role in World War Two before reading this book, which is disappointing because they played such a HUGE role in keeping Britain safe. I loved that Louise took on this challenge, and I'm sure the girls who signed up for this role were often looked down and talked down too much more than this book lets on. These are women who would have publicly gone against social norms to play an active (and dangerous) role in the war; they would have faced criticism during and after the war for doing "manly" jobs instead of taking on roles more "suitable" for women. I loved getting to read about the role of the Ack Ack Girls and thought the women themselves were fabulous.
A Good (Light) Historical Read
With the number of historical fictional options available, it's hard not to fall into the habit of comparing one book to the other. The Light Over London is a lighter read then some other historical fictions, but I don't think that makes it weaker. It sheds light on a new part of military history that I didn't know much about (the Ack Ack Girls) and gives us an interesting view of what wartime marriages were like. This was an incredibly chaotic time in history and I'm sure many women found themselves in similar situations to Louise: falling in love with a war hero and rushing into a marriage because you didn't know what the future would bring. The novel was a light read (which is actually a nice change for a historical story) but still gives us interesting characters to enjoy.
The Romantic Relationships Were Underdeveloped
I won't go into extreme detail (no spoilers), but the romantic aspects of this book felt underdeveloped. I enjoyed reading about what happens to Louise and Cara and their respective relationships, but it was a little light in the romance department for me. That said, I was definitely surprised by how Louise's story ends and did really like the twist that Kelly gives us for her. I honestly couldn't imagine going through with Louise did and thought it further showed how strong she was. Cara's story is a bit weaker, but her back story was interesting and I appreciated the differences between blushing and virginal Louise versus disillusioned Cara. I thought it was a good idea to have the story two women from such different backgrounds run parallel to each other in the book.
Overall, this was a good historical fiction and I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys stories with more than one POV and more than one time period. The jumps between present day and WW2 history were well done (and very smooth), and the book itself was an easy read. This is not as detailed as other historical fiction books, but it's definitely interesting. The Light Over London comes out January 8, 2019 and I hope you'll give it a read!
FINAL RATING: 4/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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