Saturday, April 13, 2024

The British Booksellers {Book Review}

Listen to me read this review here.

In the new historical romance The British Booksellers, Kristy Cambron continues her recent exploration of World War II in The Italian Ballerina and The Paris Dressmaker. The events of this novel occur primarily in Coventry, England, during World War I and the "Forgotten Blitz" of Coventry by German bombers during World War II. Cambron returns also to the themes of grit and beauty, grief and love. Cambron, who won the Christy Award for The Painted Castle, has written numerous bestsellers, and this clean historical romance is not likely to disappoint her fans.

In The British Booksellers, childhood friends from contrasting social stations fall in love and face life-altering decisions about their future. In the later timeline, a surly, broken bookshop owner for the commoners and his rival, the beautiful Lady Charlotte with her bookshop's peacock-blue reading room and Earl Grey elegance, must face their own decisions about how to stay in business during wartime restrictions and whether they can overcome their differences in order to meet the needs of their local community and the larger British war effort during the bombings and their aftermath.

The dual timeline of this novel permits a pair of will-they-won't-they romantic possibilities, complete with a love triangle in one of them. This is not obviously a faith-based book, but it does positively portray the place of the local church and the vicar's leadership in the community. One character seems to have a sincere Christian faith though that is not developed in depth. The author's faith is most evident in the redemptive character arcs and the theme of unlikely reconciliation and mutual aid among enemies.

While I knew of the Coventry Blitz and that the work of Bletchley Park codebreakers revealed its probability to Churchill, I found personal encouragement in reading of brave men and women overcoming biases and past differences to serve and protect their community in crisis. This is the only novel I've read that opens a window into the local experience of that horrific time and the beautiful heroism of Coventry's people during and after. Cambron also presents the economic and social challenges the nobility faced after World War I and during World War II and the awful pain of PTSD, then called shell shock, recognized in veterans since at least World War I. Vicariously experiencing grit, courage, and resilience in earlier generations has helped me persevere in my own challenges. That grit and intrigue also lends balance to the lighter aspects of the novel.

If you are reading this at crumbs from His table dot com, the background images in my quote graphics depict Coventry, including the ruins of the church and the rubble left by the bombings. Some of the people and places, like the bombed church, in the book  are grounded in historical fact. For example, the John Piper painting of the ruined church immediately after its destruction is real and can be viewed online. The "Author's Note" and "Further Reading" provide details on a wealth of resources for readers curious to learn more about the Forgotten Blitz.

All in all, The British Booksellers offers a lovely vacation or holiday read for fans of World War I or II fiction. It has elements of Jane Austen's Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice as well as the television and film series Downton Abbey. I commend this book to fans of bookish film and fiction such as  You've Got Mail, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer), The Last Bookshop in London (Madeline Martin), Until Leaves Fall in Paris (Sarah Sundin), The Keeper of Hidden Books (Madeline Martin), and of course for fans of Kristy Cambron's previous World War II novels. I enjoyed spending time with these characters and their world. I especially enjoyed the character of Amos Darby. The Christmas Truce scene in the World War I timeline was written especially well.

Thank you for reading my thoughts. My pre-release copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. The thoughts herein are my own.


If you decide to purchase this book and favor the behemoth online bookstore, purchasing via the following link supports this blog at no cost to you:


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.