One of Hasty Booklist's Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Novels!
USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight brings together a brilliant dual-narrative story about Nancy Mitford—one of 1930s London’s hottest socialites, authors, and a member of the scandalous Mitford Sisters—and a modern American desperate for change, connected through time by a little London bookshop.
“An absolute must-read!”—Madeline Martin, New York Times bestselling author The Last Bookshop in London
1938: She was one of the six sparkling Mitford sisters, known for her stinging quips, stylish dress, and bright green eyes. But Nancy Mitford’s seemingly dazzling life was really one of turmoil: with a perpetually unfaithful and broke husband, two Nazi sympathizer sisters, and her hopes of motherhood dashed forever. With war imminent, Nancy finds respite by taking a job at the Heywood Hill Bookshop in Mayfair, hoping to make ends meet, and discovers a new life.
Present Day: When book curator Lucy St. Clair lands a gig working at Heywood Hill she can’t get on the plane fast enough. Not only can she start the healing process from the loss of her mother, it’s a dream come true to set foot in the legendary store. Doubly exciting: she brings with her a first edition of Nancy’s work, one with a somewhat mysterious inscription from the author. Soon, she discovers her life and Nancy’s are intertwined, and it all comes back to the little London bookshop—a place that changes the lives of two women from different eras in the most surprising ways.
A young woman investigates an enigmatic book inscription written by British author and socialite Nancy Mitford in this uneven dual-narrative outing from Knight (Taming the Scot). Nancy lives the high life until she marries Peter Rodd, an unmoneyed minor aristocrat with a drinking problem, in 1933. As he begins seeing other women and WWII nears, two of Nancy's sisters embrace fascism, upending Nancy's life. But she finds comfort at Heywood Hill, a bookshop that has long championed her work and hires her when Peter's reckless spending forces her to find a job. In the present day, Lucy St. Clair arrives at Heywood Hill on an assignment to curate rare books for a collector. A fan of Nancy's, Lucy takes the opportunity to look into Iris, a woman to whom Nancy inscribed a copy of one of her books that was eventually bought by Lucy's mother. Knight captures Nancy's quick wit and shines a light on the darker corners of her life, but Lucy's story fails to match up and comes across as a distraction. Readers will enjoy the rich retelling of a complex period in British history, but the rest is pretty forgettable.
Knight Pens A Literary Masterpiece!
1931-Novelist, Nancy Mitford
2022-Book Curator-Lucy St. Clair
Eliza Knight is an author I have been reading since 2010 when she was a new author. This is my first historical fiction novel I ever read by Ms. Knight that I absolutely loved! It weaves two times and is a dual-narrative about Nancy Mitford and her scandalous family including her two fascist sisters connected to Adolph Hitler. On the Mitford side of this book, this author did a wonderful research getting so much true and accurate information about Nancy Mitford and her family. Now Lucy St. Clair, the fictional character in the current time, was so much fun to read about-working her temporary dream job in London. A place she would like to stay forever! This story is also surrounded by letters, in a mystery with a book inscription to a woman named Iris. Lucy is trying to to find out who it is, as there are several names and things connected to this name. Both women’s lives are set around the Heywood Hill bookstore which is in the Mayfair region of London and both are looking for the pursuit of happiness.A book I can’t recommend enough!
IDisclaimer: I received a complimentary copy and an advance reader copy from the HarperCollins publishers. I voluntarily agreed to do a fair review and blog through netgalley. All thoughts, ideas and words are my own.