The Light Over London

· Sold by Simon and Schuster
6 reviews

About this ebook

Reminiscent of Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, this entrancing story “is a poignant reminder that there is no limit to what women can do. A nostalgic, engrossing read” (Julia London, New York Times bestselling author).

It’s easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than to deal with the present, which is why working for a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: an unfinished diary from World War II and a photo of a young woman in uniform. Captivated by the hauntingly beautiful diary, Cara begins her search for the author, never guessing that it might reveal her own family’s wartime secrets.

In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene feels trapped in her Cornish village, waiting for a wealthy suitor her mother has chosen for her to return from the war. But when Louise 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 auxiliary 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 show their bravery and resilience while performing their duties during deadly air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing that she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him is returned unopened, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.

“Sweeping, stirring, and heartrending in all the best ways, this tale of one of WWII’s courageous, colorful, and enigmatic gunner girls will take your breath away” (Kristin Harmel, bestselling author of The Room on Rue Amelie).

Ratings and reviews

6 reviews
Gaele Hi
January 10, 2019
Cara is working for and learning the antiques trade after a series of losses have her back in the area she lived during university. The loss of her parents to a drunk driver, her divorce from her college sweetheart, and cleaning up the mounds of debt created by her ex have her in a state of retreat – retreat from the emotional upheaval, retreat from the hurt and above all, retreat from the chance of having to open herself again. Her job as an assistant to an antiques dealer, which requires her to study and be prepared with answers to origin, age, craftsman, value, etc. I would have been incredibly happy with this story had it been focused on Cara, her learning what she needs for work, and discovering a mystery from the past. But, the story adds another layer, one that is heavily laden with romance, even as her newly acquired neighbor is a medieval history lecturer, familiar with researching, digging and calling in favors – favors that he calls in to help Cara in her search. From the introduction of Liam, the story does have a bit of an uphill battle to decide which element is more substantial, romance, historic or the questions for and about her grandmother. For Cara’s new life is in close proximity to her Grandmother Lil, a character at 94 who makes her own decisions, has a busy social life, is full of advice and charm, and refuses to discuss her own time during the war. Yes, there are plenty of different elements, but London does manage to make weave the three elements of the story (past, present and mystery) into a blanket that slowly unfurls and builds as you read on. On an estate appraisal, Cara discovers an old stylized biscuit tin, inside is contained some bits of a life and a diary written during World War II by a young Cornish woman. Intrigued by the diary and the connection to questions stirred by a photograph of the girl in the uniform of the Auxilliary Territorial Services (ATS) a branch of the army, the same uniform that her grandmother wore during the war. Not knowing her grandmother Iris’ story, and deciding that discovering the author of the diary and returning the items to her family is important, Cara begins reading the diary, determined to ask her grandmother for answers. With the arrival of her new neighbor, Liam, a history lecturer, his interest is also piqued, and the two begin to dissect the clues on the way to solving the story. With the calming influence of Liam, and his steady and quiet demeanor, bits of the diarist Louise’s life unfold, gripping for the danger and courage, as well as the intrigue around her mysterious ‘flyer boyfriend’ Paul. While London manages to balance the three elements of this story reasonably well, we learn of Cara’s marriage, Louise’s service and the niggling questions that have Cara using Louise’s diary as an entrée to her own answers about her grandmother’s life and the multitude of questions she has about both her grandmother’s time in the war and the reasons she won’t speak of it. With answers and trust, both Cara and Liam both grow closer, even as the mysteries of Iris’ service and who Lillan was grow, and Liam’s connections to other historians bring answers not wholly unexpected for Louise, if one reads the diary entries carefully. Interesting for the connections and a fuller picture of the women serving in the ATS, the unfolding of answers bring Cara some long-awaited answers in her journey to moving forward with her life. An interesting read, full of emotion, lots of facts and a sense of London (and Great Britain) in the midst of war, this is better defined as a contemporary woman’s fiction with historic, mystery and romantic elements, but engaging and intriguing for those wanting an afternoon of diversion. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own responsibility.
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Jane Ward
February 5, 2019
The Light Over London by Julia Kelly is a World War II historical novel. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of life in this era. I found the jobs women filled were especially interesting. Certain parts of the story were predictable but well told. The characters were interesting although I would have preferred more detail at the end of their stories. Plenty of fast paced mystery and Intrigue throughout.
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Anne Baird
December 10, 2019
Loved how the author wove a story from WWll and present day! She went flawlessly back and forth between both stories that were connected!
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About the author

Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of books about ordinary women and their extraordinary stories. In addition to writing, she’s been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and (for one summer) a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa, and New York City home before settling in London. Readers can visit to learn more about all of her books and sign up for her newsletter so they never miss a new release.

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