Book Title and Author: The Light Over London by Julia Kelly
Publication Date and Publisher: January 8, 2019 by Gallery Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 304 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: November 24, 2018 (e-arc)
It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with 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: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.
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.
While I enjoyed The Light Over London, I didn’t love it like I hoped that I would, especially since I requested it because it is compared in the blurb to The Nightingale, which is one of my most favorite WWII historical fiction novels. I’ve made this complaint several times this year about books being marketed as either the wrong genre or indiscriminately compared to other books in the hopes that readers would pick them up because they were fans of those other books, and that’s the case here since the only thing The Light Over London has in common with The Nightingale is both are set during WWII.
I think it had the potential to be a great story, but it was less historical fiction and more historical romance than I like so for me, at least, that took something away from the story, especially since Cara’s romance in the current time period felt a bit contrived and unnecessary, and I wish the author had instead spent more time on the history of the gunner girls and Louise’s role as one since their part in WWII was so extraordinary and so important! Also, my favorite character in the entire book was Cara’s grandmother, and I would have loved it if her character had been fleshed out more…she was just fabulous!
This was a quick, enjoyable read but not one that I would read again. All in all, it’s a perfectly lovely story and if you like romance novels or lighter historical fiction, then this might be perfect for you. However, if you are expecting a deeper and more profound WWII novel like The Nightingale and want your historical fiction to be more historical and less fluff, then you might want to skip this one.
~I read with this one with the Traveling Sisters and really enjoyed our discussions about this one!~
**Thank you NetGalley and Gallery Books for an ARC to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**