The London Bookshop Affair; a stunning Cold War novel

Wow! What an all-consuming novel The London Bookshop Affair is. I can’t stop thinking about the world of espionage inspired by true historical figures and events that bestselling author Louise Fein has created. This is a Cold War novel about everyday London people living in the 1960s that completely engrossed me on a long train journey. I didn’t want the story to end.

It is also a novel I recommend for any book groups looking for thought-provoking reading matter. There is so much to explore and discuss; the political backdrop, characters, family, secrets, identity. The list could go on for ever.

The cover of The London Bookshop Affair is artistic. However for me it is a tad misleading as I feel it evokes a sense that inside is a romantic story of a woman’s search for love. Please don’t be fooled as the narrative is so much more. It is a captivating read about ordinary people that due to world events and harsh social beliefs, act extraordinary for what they feel is right. This means that Louise Fein’s characters are interesting, complex and flawed. They are also so brave and likeable.

There is one particular character I can’t stop thinking about even though I finished reading the novel days ago. You will have to read the novel (which I urge you to do) to realise the character I am thinking so intently about.

This powerful novel is mainly set in 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis. At school many years ago I studied the Cuban Missile Crisis, and as a lover of historical fiction, I have read other Cold War novels. But crikey, I never realised until being totally consumed by this book how ordinary British people going about their everyday lives were, over a series of days, truly at the mercy of the politics between America and the Soviet Union. It is truly frightening.

The London Bookshop Affair is the story of Celia Duchesne, a 19 year-old stifled by her strict parents, and unsure about what she wants to do with her life. Forbidden to attend secretarial college, Celia works in an antiquarian bookshop on the Strand. Through her best friend Daphne, she begins to learn about nuclear weapons and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). It is also through Daphne that Celia finds out about her mysterious connection to Anya, a spy working in Nazi occupied Paris during World War 2.

Louise Fein

As Celia discovers more about Anya and the secrets of the past that rip her life apart, she is also in awe of her glamourous boss, Mrs Denton, the new owner of the dusty bookshop where Celia works. Mrs Denton is a rich, American divorcee with many visitors to the shop. One of the visitors is Septimus, a 26 year-old working at the US Embassy who shows a keen interest in the young, innocent Celia. She reciprocates Septimus’s interest, attracted to the sophistication and intelligence of the handsome, young American.

As Celia’s curiosity unearths deep secrets of bravery, heartache and betrayal, she is astonished to learn how the world of espionage is interlinked with her very personal history, and subsequently so closely connected to her ‘stifled’ current life. Through her own bravery, she as an ‘ordinary’ young woman will play a pivotal role in the fight to protect the world from nuclear annihilation.

As I am sure you can guess from reading this book review, I absolutely loved The London Bookshop Affair. It did not disappoint me in any way. I found it so fascinating, exciting and emotional. This is the first novel I have read by Louise Fein, but rest assured, I’ll be reading more by this international bestselling author.

Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour of this historic fiction rich in research and full of espionage.

Published in paperback on 29 February 2024 by WmMorrow / Harper360UK, The London Bookshop Affair is available now to read. If you are a lover of historic fiction or not, I urge you to read it. It is so engaging, fascinating and informative.

To follow the blog tour, please see below.

1 Comment

  1. March 6, 2024 / 12:28 pm

    Thanks for the blog tour support x

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.