Lead Review (The London Bookshop Affair)

  • Book: The London Bookshop Affair
  • Location: London
  • Author: Louise Fein

Review Author: Tina Hartas

Location

Content

The London Bookshop Affair by Louise Fein, a novel of the Cold War set in London.

A novel of the Cold War set in LONDON

I very much enjoyed the author’s novel People Like Us (also confusingly titled Daughter of the Reich) and it still lingers in my consciousness, both for the gifted storytelling and the impeccable writing style.

Here the author looks at the burgeoning Cold War, specifically 1962 when the Cuban Missile Crisis was developing.

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A novel of the Cold War set in LONDONCelia is a teenager, still living with her parents, who both seem perhaps a little diffident and distant but it is her home, it is what she knows.  She discovers a reference to Anya Moreau (via her sassy friend Daphne) and something about her newly gleaned information piques her interest and like a dog with a bone, she starts to drill down to the truth. As a result of her digging, she discovers a huge secret within the heart of her family.

She is also working in a bookshop, the ownership changes hands and she is taken on by an American woman, who seems friendly but singularly disinterested in the affairs of bookselling, which she leaves in Celia’s competent hands. After a while Celia finds herself courted by Septimus Nelson, who is attached to the American Embassy.

But given the times, nothing is what it seems and plenty of people have things to hide.

This is an engrossing and well told story, where the author captures the tension and drama of the era with nuance and authority. The pace rolls along as the author builds her story. When a showdown in the bookshop ensues, I felt that that episode took inspiration from the Famous Five and became a little preposterous, as Celia shows her kickass side – which was out of keeping with the rest of the steady and well-crafted narrative. Then, once the story settled again, the author resumed with her measured and involving storytelling. I really enjoyed this overall and recommend it.

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