Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on September 19th 2017
From the author of Secrets of Nanreath Hall comes this gripping, beautifully written historical fiction novel set during World War II—the unforgettable story of a young woman who must leave Singapore and forge a new life in England.
On the eve of Pearl Harbor, impetuous and overindulged, Lucy Stanhope, the granddaughter of an earl, is living a life of pampered luxury in Singapore until one reckless act will change her life forever.
Exiled to England to stay with an aunt she barely remembers, Lucy never dreamed that she would be one of the last people to escape Singapore before war engulfs the entire island, and that her parents would disappear in the devastating aftermath. Now grief stricken and all alone, she must cope with the realities of a grim, battle-weary England.
Then she meets Bill, a young evacuee sent to the country to escape the Blitz, and in a moment of weakness, Lucy agrees to help him find his mother in London. The unlikely runaways take off on a seemingly simple journey across the country, but her world becomes even more complicated when she is reunited with an invalided soldier she knew in Singapore.
Now Lucy will be forced to finally confront the choices she has made if she ever hopes to have the future she yearns for.
I’m very pleased to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour of The Way to London. As many of you know, I’m always up for what’s new in WWII fiction and books set in England so I was very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the tour. The Way to London is very much a character driven novel that provided a fresh and somewhat lighter read than many WWII novels already on my shelf.
The book begins with Lucy living a life of luxury in Singapore. It would be easy to mistake her for a shallow, spoiled young woman. And perhaps she is a bit. But there’s usually a reason people behave the way they do and Lucy is no exception. Bounced from one nanny to another and sent to boarding school, Lucy has never had a close relationship with either of her parents. So it’s no surprise that she seeks attention where she can find it and has some difficulty making meaningful connections.
As rumors of war swirl around Singapore, Lucy’s mother and lecherous stepfather discover that Lucy has been having a relationship with Yoon Hai, the nephew a prominent Chinese business associate. Lucy is ordered to be sent away lest she interfere with the marriage contract already being negotiated for Yoon Hai’s marriage to another woman. She is to be on the next ship to England to be sent to live with Lady Boxley, an aunt she barely knows.
When she arrives, she finds that her aunt’s estate has been turned into a military hospital. Despite this and the evidence of the hardship of war all round her, Lucy does her best to continue living the life a carefree, moneyed woman, frequenting the pubs and defying her aunt’s wishes. This continues until Bill, a young refugee, comes into her life prompting a series of events that will lead them both on a journey to find “home”.
Alix Rickloff has created many characters to love in this book which is actually very refreshing. Though flawed, most of the characters are inherently good. I found Lucy to be daring, sassy, witty, and deeply emotional despite her best efforts to hide it. There were several characters who took their time in revealing their true nature which worked beautifully in this book. And then there was Bill. Rough around the edges? Perhaps. In need of a little structure? Well, yes. A good-hearted young man any reader could love? Most definitely!
And now I must address the romance bit… Many of you already know that romance is not my jam. I’ve been through reading the sappy stuff now for many years. To my own amazement, I actually liked the romance that developed in The Way to London. I know, I can’t believe it either! Perhaps that’s because it was more playful and realistic to me as opposed to the predictable gratuitous stuff authors sometimes try to sneak in. Whatever it was, it worked.
Overall, this was a very fast, enjoyable read that I’m tempted to call WWII “light”. In a refreshing departure from many WWII novels, it doesn’t contain bloody battle scenes and won’t make you cry for hours. That’s not to say it’s without depth. It provides it’s own brand of wonderful in a charming, heartwarming way.
I hadn’t read anything by Alix Rickloff in the past and was shocked to learn that she also writes paranormal romance. Though you probably won’t find me reading one of those, I’m impressed with her versatility and would certainly read another of her novels in the future.
Many thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.