The Light Over London

The Light Over London

Reminiscent of Martha Hall Kelly's Lilac Girls and Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, this sweeping, entrancing story is a must-read for fans of remarkable women rising to challenges they could never have predicted.

It’s always been easier for Cara Hargraves to bury herself in the past than confront the present, which is why working with a gruff but brilliant antiques dealer is perfect. While clearing out an estate, she pries open an old tin that holds the relics of a lost relationship: among the treasures, a World War II-era diary and a photograph of a young woman in uniform. Eager to find the author of the hauntingly beautiful, unfinished diary, Cara digs into this soldier’s life, but soon realizes she may not have been ready for the stark reality of wartime London she finds within the pages.

In 1941, nineteen-year-old Louise Keene’s life had been decided for her—she’ll wait at home in her Cornish village until her wealthy suitor returns from war to ask for her hand. But when Louise unexpectedly meets Flight Lieutenant Paul Bolton, a dashing RAF pilot stationed at a local base, everything changes. And changes again when Paul’s unit is deployed without warning.

Desperate for a larger life, Louise joins the women’s branch of the British Army in the anti-aircraft gun unit as a Gunner Girl. As bombs fall on London, she and the other Gunner Girls relish in their duties to be exact in their calculations, and quick in their identification of enemy planes during air raids. The only thing that gets Louise through those dark, bullet-filled nights is knowing she and Paul will be together when the war is over. But when a bundle of her letters to him are returned unanswered, she learns that wartime romance can have a much darker side.

Illuminating the story of these two women separated by generations and experience, Julia Kelly transports us to World War II London in this heartbreakingly beautiful novel through forgotten antique treasures, remembered triumphs, and fierce family ties.
  • Gallery Books | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501196416 | 
  • January 2019
List Price $26.00 (price may vary by retailer)
Ships on or around January 8, 2019
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Light Over London includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book


For Cara Hargraves, burying herself in her job working for an antiques dealer is an easy escape from the memories of a failed marriage and the tragic death of her parents. One day, while clearing out an estate, she finds a World War II–era diary and photograph of a young woman in uniform—the same uniform her grandmother wore during the war. With the help of her neighbor, Cara searches for the identity of this mysterious woman, all while exorcising the secrets of her family’s past.

Author Julia Kelly weaves in the tale of Louise Keene, the author of the diary, as she falls in love with a dashing pilot before running away from her Cornish village to join the women’s branch of the British Army during World War II. While Louise gains her independence and finds her place among her fellow gunner girls, she also discovers the darker side of wartime romance. The Light Over London is about two women who find themselves and fight to forge a better and brighter future.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. Although Lou see more

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About the Author

Julia Kelly
Scott Bottles

Julia Kelly

Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of books about ordinary women and their extraordinary stories. In addition to writing, she’s been an Emmy-nominated producer, journalist, marketing professional, and (for one summer) a tea waitress. Julia called Los Angeles, Iowa, and New York City home before settling in London. Readers can visit to learn more about all of her books and sign up for her newsletter so they never miss a new release.