The London House

Harper Muse. Nov. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9780785290209. pap. $17.99. F
Reay’s (Of Literature and Lattes) latest is a complex portrait of a family torn apart by secrets. It covers multiple threads, from the brave women spies in World War II to perspectives on history to the ways in which trauma stops people from accepting the love that they are offered. Caroline Payne is in her late 20s, and the accidental death of her sister 20 years ago and the disintegration of her family loom over her relationships even as she returns to Boston to be near her dying father. A surprise call from an old flame, who’s writing a history article, reminds Caroline of her long-dead British great-aunt, whom the family had disowned for being a Nazi collaborator. Caroline impulsively travels to London to the house her father grew up in, where she reads letters and diaries that bring to life her grandmother and great-aunt, the vivacious “Waite girls.” She learns that the shame of Nazi collaboration that overshadowed her family for 80 years is not quite what it seems.
VERDICT For readers who enjoy novels featuring courageous women in World War II. Reay explores the uncertainty of history and how trauma can be carried across generations, but makes clear that it’s never too late for redemption.
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