Why: When the book jacket begins with, “On the eve of Pearl Harbor…” I can stop there and put the title on my TBR list. That may be a slight exaggeration, but its honestly what I did with The Way to London by Alix Rickloff. I didn’t really research Rickloff – an author I had not yet read – or read much about the book. I trusted that I would enjoy reading it because it was WWII historical fiction, and since I needed a push to read some pages, I picked it up! Am I ever glad I did!
As she passed through the gallery, shadows moved along the far wall. A breeze curled past her legs. A whispered word echoed from among the clusters of comfortable furniture. Shades of Nanreath’s exalted past passing judgment on the new arrival?
Story: Lucy Stanhope is a spoiled socialite living in Singapore just weeks before it is decimated by WWII. Troublesome and entitled, Lucy is shipped off to live with an aunt in England to avoid a scandal that could ruin her step-father’s business. What follows is an Odysseus-like saga of travel, loss and love. Lucy’s world is turned upside down by people she encounters in her travels, and they force her to confront who she is and what it is that she is actually seeking.
Light inched its way up the mossy stones of the ruined watchtower, spread across the wide cliffs to gild the far green wood with gold. The sea danced with a million diamonds and gulls rose and fell on a soft salty breeze.
Opinion: I flew through this book. My day-job is extra busy in the fall, and I still stayed up until midnight on a work night to finish this. The story is not overly “new” or “different.” However, Rickloff does such a good job of connecting readers to the characters that I just HAD to know how it ended! The writing is a bit challenging as the language is very conversational and terminology was beyond what I’m familiar with. Even though I had to read a few bits an extra time or two, the language gave life and personality to the characters in a way that made the tiny bit of work on my part satisfying in the end. (Other readers may have no trouble at all with this!)
The other piece that endeared this book to me was the plot structure. Whether intentional or not, I was reminded of the Canterbury Tales in the way that Lucy encounters new people along her journey. Rickloff gives each of these small episodes their due from landscape details to characterization of these new people to their impact on Lucy and her self discovery. Individually, these are tremendous little stories that could almost stand on their own. Collectively, they add a dramatic scope to Lucy’s adventure, and piece together a puzzle that readers see coming together much more quickly than she does!
“I thought I’d know it when I saw it, but I didn’t – and now its gone.”
Recommendation: I would recommend this title for most readers who enjoy WWII fiction. The concepts and themes of the story are perhaps a bit more mature, but the writing is accessible for older YA readers and beyond. If you’ve read and liked Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network, I would also highly recommend this novel. There are so many similarities between the two on a thematic level, and even some plot devices like vehicles playing crucial roles! All in all, a quality read that will leave a smile on your face.
Love taken with none offered in return. It didn’t work like that. Real love ran in an unbroken current.
Journaling Prompts: (If you haven’t read any of my other reviews, I enjoy putting together a few questions about the book for those that have already read, or choose to read the book after viewing this post!)
- There is something about a roadtrip that makes for a great story. How does travel relate to what Lucy is going through on a personal level?
- How are Bill and Lucy similar? How do they differ? Why are these notes important?
- A theme of “seeking” is found throughout the novel. What is Lucy seeking? How about Bill? Michael? Amelia? Others?
- Similar to travel, how is Lucy’s skill of altering clothing symbolic of her journey? Why do you think Rickloff made this extremely prominent in the scene with the women’s group?
- How do each of the supporting characters contribute to Lucy’s development? Think beyond Bill and Michael for this.
Special thanks to TLC Book Tours for the book in exchange for my honest review!