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March 2019: Debut > The Light Over London - Julia Kelly - 5 Stars

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message 1: by Jemima (new)

Jemima Ravenclaw (jemimaravenclaw) | 351 comments The Light Over London The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this story. Set in London and Cornwall, both during the second World War and present day, the book tell the story of a young historian's discovery of a diary and her personal investment in discovering the author and her history. Something within the short, personal entries touches a chord in Cara, who is struggling to come to terms with both her recent divorce and the loss of both of her parents over the past couple of years. Her only living relative, her grandmother, although enjoying a close relationship with Cara, refuses to discuss her past and particularly her war service. Cara feels shut out of this part of her beloved Grandmother's life and doesn't understand her Grandmother's reluctance to share this aspect of her past. She suspects that her Grandmother is hiding a secret that has something to do with her own mother and this troubles her greatly as she overheard her mother and grandmother quarrelling about it just before her parents died. With the secret keeping, Cara finds it difficult to move on in her grief, partly due to the lies she lived with on a daily basis with her former husband.

When she finds a diary, written by a woman during WW2, Cara embarks on a voyage of discovery, aided by her new next door neighbour, Liam, who also happens to be a history professor and a very nice person. When he takes an interest in her quest, it is the start of a beautiful friendship based on mutual interests and respect.

At the same time as we are exploring Cara's story, and finding out through her reading small snippets of information about the World War 2 diary's anonymous author, who becomes attached to women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl, we are transported back in time to the first person narrative of Louisa Keene. Louisa is an ordinary seeming girl, living in Cornwall during 1939, with an extraordinary ability with maths and calculations.She dreams of going to college one day to earn a degree in mathematics and maybe to go on to teach some day. The suffocating, small town conforming expectations of her mother and the locals in her village make this an impossible dream for Louise, who hesitates to assert her independence from her dominating mother. When a crisis comes, Louise rebels and escapes her home to train for a job in the Women's Auxiliary Service. During her training, her unique abilities are recognised and she is promoted to join a specialised team of women to form one of the mixed gender Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) anti aircraft defence gunner teams, known as 'Ack Ack duty'. The Gunner Girls served in the defence of Britain from German bombing raids during World War 2, many perished during that service.

Louise's courage and abilities under fire make the most compelling reading in this novel, as she serves as a predictor and sometimes leader in this role. Louise's life is not all roses now that she has left home and found her independence. The sweetheart she has met, just prior to joining up, disapproves of her new role and is making demands and expectations about her future life with him. She has to live with daily slights for being a woman doing a man's job. She fights to pursue her dreams and learns to value her special personal qualities of courage, steadfastness, intelligence, fierceness, resilience and most of all the support and comradeship of her tight knit Ack Ack team members.

Meanwhile, back in present day, Cara is desperately seeking a happy resolution for Louise, who is identified as the girl in the diary, and seeking answers from her reluctant Gran. Will she be able to find a happy ending for both herself and Louise? I was entranced and invested in this story from the very beginning, as it unfolded for both young women, past and present day. In seeking to find their own happiness and to develop their personal strengths of both independence and self determination, the stories of Louise and Cara are a compelling narrative of resilience and inspiration for women. Both women learn to come to peaceful terms with their pasts and with themselves, and to accept the personal choices made by their loved ones, regardless of the outcomes.

View all my reviews

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Wonderful review! I have this one on my TBR.

message 3: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7716 comments I should have this one in from the library on audio in the next month or so! I am looking forward to it even more now.

message 4: by Jemima (new)

Jemima Ravenclaw (jemimaravenclaw) | 351 comments I listened on Audible. Lovely narration as well.

message 5: by Joanne (last edited Apr 01, 2019 08:15AM) (new)

Joanne (joabroda1) | 7248 comments Also one that is on my TBR shelf. However, I am just getting very tired of what I have started calling "jumpy books"-those that jump through time back and forth. So many of the new books are doing this-it's like the Publishing Industry is saying-"Write or jumpy book, or don't write at all"🙄

Nice Review, as always, Jemima

message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8292 comments Jemima, this one is on my TBR too! Glad to see such a good review.

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