Thanks to Harper Muse Books and TLC Book Tours for including me in the book tour for The London House by Katherine Reay.
Caroline Payne, who was named after her great aunt who died of polio, left law school to be near her family in Boston. She receives a surprise visit from Mat Hammond, a college classmate, now historian, who learned shocking information about Caroline’s family. Her namesake didn’t die young, as she was told, but actually abandoned her family and country to marry her lover, a Nazi officer. At first, Caroline is incredulous but then realizes that secrecy and disappointment have shaped her family. She decides to visit the family’s ancestral home in London to uncover the truth.
Ensconced in a trunk in the attic, Caroline finds letters, diaries, photographs, and other keepsakes. The letters reveal a fashionable Parisian scene around the House of Schiaparelli but also point to the horrors of living under Nazi rule.
London, Paris, WWII, dual timelines, a promising love interest, and a hope for family reconciliation … once I started this, I got completely sucked in! I enjoy the epistolary aspect of the novel in particular, with the immediacy of Caro’s observations about Paris in wartime. Her story was fascinating! Yet, her shame and the secrets it created in the family caused ripples of despair across generations, and only in confronting the truth could the family heal past and present wounds.