Book Review: The Light Over London by Julia Kelly


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
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Date Read: November 24, 2018 (e-arc)

3.5 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

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.**

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18 thoughts on “Book Review: The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

    1. Thank you, Mackenzie! Yes, it definitely does effect your expectations. I really wish they’d stop comparing books to other ones…like with suspense everything is the next Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, and they just aren’t (thankfully, because I’m tired of the same old). I’m glad I enjoyed it too although I wouldn’t read it again. Thanks…just finished An Anonymous Girl and it was 5 stars! My new reads are looking good too! 😉😊 Happy Monday!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope you love it! It’s very good. I did too, but it is unfair to compare everything to it. I’m not sure I’ve read anything like it since. I guess they have to market, but some of the comparisons are way off or old.


    1. Thanks, Jenn! It wasn’t awful at all…it’s a great story just not the type of historical fiction that I want to read. The romance was over the top for a book marketed like this, so that was frustrating. I’ve got lots of suggestions for you if you plan on it! Just let me know!! I just finished An Anonymous Girl and it was 5 Stars, so I’m hopefully back on a reading roll, lol. Happy Monday ❤💚❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I’m sure you will. It’s got a great premise and some wonderful characters, but the focus on romance did take away from that in my opinion. Still, it was enjoyable just not what I’m looking for when I read historical fiction. The author is a romance writer and I found out she writes steamy romance under another name, so I think that is why the book is more romantic than historical. Still, she did a great job introducing the gunner girls but I’d have loved to know more, which I did by turning to Google! Lol. I can’t wait to see what you think! Thanks! You too! 💞❤💞 xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jonetta. I did enjoy it so it’s not awful just not what I expected or would read again. I do think anyone who likes lighter historical fiction would enjoy it. I just like mine to have depth and substance if that makes sense.


  1. I love your review of this one! I’ve noticed over the past few months that there has been a glut of WWII novels and nearly all of them feature two women with their backs turned away. It’s just bizarre and, perhaps, it is due to the popularity of The Nightingale. Still…there are only so many books that one can read about the WWII era unless there truly is something uniquely different about them.


    1. Thank you, Mackey! I hadn’t paid attention to the covers, but you’re right! That’s really a bit odd. WWII is one of my favorite eras to read about, but I agree 100% that there have been a lot of WWII books published lately, and it probably is because of The Nightingale, especially with the movie coming out soon. I think that I’ve read 3 in the last few weeks…2 were wonderful-1 almost on par with The Nightingale, and then this one was just okay. I love when they have something new and different to tell, which this one could have, but when they are all telling the same story is when it is just ridiculous…


  2. Yes, I loved The Nightingale! Still think about it too. Have you read The Lilac Girls? I keep changing my mind on whether to read it. Great review of this one.


    1. The Nightingale is so good! I haven’t, but I own it and plan on reading it. I just know that it will be a hard read, but I’ve heard that it’s well-written. Thank you, Holly!


    1. Yes, it’s insane! All the ones that compare every book to Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train get me because they are never right, lol. Just stop already. I know they do it so people will buy the book but it gets old fast Thank you. At least it wasn’t a total dud.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They definitely do! You buy it or request the ARC and then it’s nothing like the synopsis. When that happens, I always get frustrated and point it out in a review. I get upset when the book is mismarketed too. Nothing like expecting a psychological thriller and getting mild domestic drama…

        Liked by 1 person

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