The London Bookshop Affair – Louise Fein | Book Review | #TheLondonBookshopAffair | Cold War Novel | @FeinLouise @Harper360UK @RandomTTours

From the bestselling author of Daughter of the Reich, an historical drama set in London about a bookshop involved in an espionage network.

Two courageous women. One astonishing secret. A world on the brink of war.

London, 1962: The world is teetering on the brink of nuclear war but life must go on. Celia Duchesne longs for a career, but with no means or qualifications, passes her time working at a dusty bookshop. The day a handsome American enters the shop, she thinks she might have found her way out of the monotony. Just as the excitement of a budding relationship engulfs her, a devastating secret draws her into the murky world of espionage.

France, 1942: Nineteen-year-old Anya Moreau was dropped behind enemy lines to aid the resistance, sending messages back home to London via wireless transmitter. When she was cruelly betrayed, evidence of her legacy and the truth of her actions were buried by wartime injustices.

As Celia learns more about Anya—and her unexpected connection to the undercover agent—she becomes increasingly aware of furious efforts, both past and present, to protect state secrets. With her newly formed romance taking a surprising turn and the world on the verge of nuclear annihilation, Celia must risk everything she holds dear, in the name of justice.

Propulsive and illuminating, The London Bookshop Affair is a gripping story of secrets and love, inspired by true events and figures of the Cold War.


My thanks to Anne of Random Things Tours for the tour invite and to the author Louise, for the offer of a review copy of the book via the publisher. I loved Louise’s previous book reviewed here, The Hidden Child, and was so excited to have the opportunity to read this latest. The London Bookshop Affair is published in the US by William Morrow and in the UK by Harper360. It is available in ebook, audio and paperback formats (29 February 2024).

The London Bookshop Affair is a dual time historical novel set across two timelines – 1942 with its WW2 setting and 1962, primarily focusing on the nuclear war threat at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis at the time of the presidency of JFK in the US.

In 1942, Anya, is in France as a wireless operator for the British, recruited by the ‘SOE’. She had the perfect skills and abilities and was extremely good at her job but sadly let down and betrayed by those she trusted. This WW2 story links with that involving 19 year old Celia Duchesne, an unsettled young woman working in a London second hand bookshop.

Celia wants more from life and has hopes of a PA career with the BBC but feels held back by her rather strict parents, that is until 26 year old American Embassy employee Septimus Nelson comes into the shop and her life. What follows is a superbly written intriguing drama focusing on the actions of various individuals and governments which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

I felt so much sympathy for Celia. Her homelife wasn’t the happiest and when we first meet her she had an innocence and naivety about her. What I particularly enjoyed about the story was that the romance element did not overshadow the dramatic aspect of the story – there were some particularly odious and untrustworthy characters bringing a mystery element. There are many strands which will appeal to fiction readers – the French resistance of WW2 with contemporary espionage inspired by real events combined with a romantic thread.

I was completely engrossed in both timelines from the first page. Brave, determined women feature here and from being uncertain and naive Celia began to recognise her own worth and her ambitions went beyond working in an antiquarian bookshop. Her involvement in CND demonstrations ran alongside her desire to know more about past events. I won’t divulge the plot but there were unexpected turns which at one point led to a sharp intake of breath from this reader.

I loved it this book and would definitely recommend it. Louise Fein writes so well and really brings her characters to life, whether they are at the forefront or in the background. With complex characters such as Septimus and the mysterious Mrs Denton there was much intrigue and second guessing on my part.

Finally, do read the fascinating author’s notes at the back which give more context to real life events and to the characters inspired by their real life counterparts. The research must have been immense however it has certainly paid off, resulting in a superbly plotted novel which left me, a child of the 1960’s feeling that I knew a little more about past events.

Louise Fein is the author of Daughter of the Reich, which has been published in thirteen territories, and the international bestseller The Hidden Child. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University. She lives in Surrey, UK, with her family.

Website | Twitter/X | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon UK


1 thought on “The London Bookshop Affair – Louise Fein | Book Review | #TheLondonBookshopAffair | Cold War Novel | @FeinLouise @Harper360UK @RandomTTours”

I do love to read any comments 😊

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