The Light of London
Written by Julia Kelly
Published by Gallery Books on January 8, 2019
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 other treasures, World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to the 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-tear-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.
First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Lately, I’ve spend a lot of time reading World War II historical fiction with women as the protagonist. The Light of London did not disappoint and I would rank this one high in this very prolific genre. Currently, as you browse through any bookstore, you will see numerous World War II based fiction with women leads. This genre seems have taken a forefront in historical fiction.
The Light of London follows the paths of two women: one in the present and the other in the past. Both stories are compelling and, at times, heart breaking. Both women are on journeys to find their way forward in life. Both are hampered to break through to who they are meant to be.
My favorite aspect of this book is that Julia Kelly captured beautifully the desperation of war. Finding love and trying to keep it was a constant struggle. Love affairs tended to be fast and furious. Couples would meet, fall in love and marry within months. Some lasted and some didn’t. Heartbreak was constant and the potential for heartbreak was always in the back of one’s mind and heart. The war made love desperate and, sometimes, short-lived. People were constantly trying to make that connection and maintain it not knowing if it would be the worst mistake of their lives.
If I have one criticism is my lack of closure for a character. I won’t say who because of want the reader to able to make that determination on their own. It’s been several days since I’ve finished this book and I still feel the same. I felt that there was not enough finishing touches that character. If you would like to discuss further, please comment below and we can discuss..