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The Way to London: A Novel of World War II…

The Way to London: A Novel of World War II

by Alix Rickloff

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Pampered, stubborn, impetuous, reckless. That’s Lucy Stanhope, granddaughter of an earl. Not a very likeable person…at first.
Set in the early days of WWII, Lucy is living in Singapore with her mother and stepfather. But after a questionable incident she is exiled to England to live with her aunt. Lucy is one of the last people to get out of Singapore before the war reaches the island.
Lucy learns that her mother has perished at sea. While in Singapore Lucy had met Mason Oliver, a Hollywood producer. He gave her his business card and said he would make her a star. So rather than live with her elderly aunt she set out for London to meet with Mr. Oliver before he leaves for the US.
Along the way she rescues Bill, a young boy who has run away from the home he had been placed in. He is determined to find his mother in London. Reluctantly Lucy agrees to help him find his mother. She also encounters a soldier she had met in Singapore, Corporal Michael McKeegan. They have sparred from the moment they met.
“The Way to London” is a delightful read. No alternating perspectives, no back and forth in time. Lucy’s character development was so beautifully written. I loved seeing her slowly mature and begin to put the needs of others before herself. And along the way she discovers what love is…something she had never felt.

I loved the simple storyline that held my heart throughout the journey. ( )
  BettyTaylor56 | Oct 12, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Lucy Stanhope is a spoiled debutante living the good life in Singapore in the early years of WWII. Her mother is a selfish narcissist, and her step-father is a lecherous creep, and Lucy has no problems defying them or society to live the way she wants. However, when the weight of scandal becomes too much, Lucy finds herself packed up and shipped off to Nanreath Hall in England. Going from the tropical luxury of Singapore to the dreariness of war-time Britain is a kick in the teeth for Lucy. When she befriends a young war orphan, the two make plans to escape the drudgery of the country for London. The perilous journey across a war zone will force Lucy to face her priorities in life, and to confront her mistakes.

This is a beautiful, vividly written book. Rickoff has put an enormous amount of effort into packing every page with an incredible amount of historical detail. You can almost smell the tropical flowers on the breezes of Singapore, and feel the clammy touch of the fog in England. The story is slowly paced, allowing plenty of time to take in the story and get to know the characters.

That being said, this book wasn’t really up my alley. I’m not really one for romances (though if I were going to pick a romance genre it would likely be historical romance). It also kind of irked me that as rich in detail as most of the book was, the author is still relying on the “spoiled brat of a woman is made pure and whole by the love of a noble man” trope, which is nearly as bad as “the pure and virtuous woman finds the strength to tame the wild, uncouth man” trope. For all the detail and time spent on the setting and getting to know our main characters, the interaction between Lucy and her foil/savior, Michael, is uncomplicated and a bit flat. You know through all the sniping that they’re going to wind up together in the end, though I have to admit there were other contenders I was rooting for, and one (from her time in Singapore) whose story would (in my opinion) have been a bit more interesting.

So in all, this is a well written book in a genre I don’t have a lot of patience for. If you’re generally a fan of romance novels, or are into the WWII setting, this might be a good title for you to try.

An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  irregularreader | Sep 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed reading this interesting if a bit predictable book. This work of historical fiction is set in WWII; it begins Singapore and ends in London with a road trip along the way (as the title alludes to). Lucy is an unhappy, rebellious, spoiled young woman - unhappy and rebellious for good reasons, but still. She is sent away from Singapore to relatives in Cornwall by her truly awful mother (the relatives and the country house in Cornwall will be familiar to readers of Alix Rickloff's "Secrets of Nanreath Hall"). In Singapore she meets a young man who is also headed to Britain. Once Lucy gets to Cornwall the story really begins, as Lucy gets involved with a young evacuee, Bill who is miserable in his foster parents' home. The two of them end up on a journey to London to find Bill's mother (and a symbolic journey to find love). Bill provides amusement in the novel; I enjoyed that character more than any other. The young man joins Lucy and Bill and there is a satisfying end for all. As I say, a bit predictable, but still quite enjoyable. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a well-written and researched WWII novel that is somewhat lighter in tone than most in that category. I received a copy through the Early Reviewers Giveaway. ( )
  BlueGiraffe | Sep 20, 2017 |
Our family and our experiences shape us into the people we are. If we are loved, we are likely to become loving ourselves. And this is, of course, the life we all deserve and that we wish for others. But many people aren't brought up in love, instead they are brought up in pitiable or hurtful circumstances. This too shapes the people they become. Suffer neglect or disdain and we might assume that is our due and fade into the background or we might act out to force attention onto ourselves. Certainly we'd have trouble developing into a person who both gives and receives love. But it doesn't have to be this way. Some rare and strong people can break out of the emotional void in which they have been raised and learn to care for others. Alix Rickloff's newest novel, The Way to London, is a story of one such rare character as she bumps haltingly towards a kinder, more loving and open existence.

Lucy Stanhope is a pampered, spoiled brat. She's shallow and completely disaffected by anything that doesn't touch her personally. Yes, she's rather odious and delights in causing scandals but she's this way in large part because of the lack of love in her upbringing. She lives with her glamorous, titled mother, who refuses to be called mother by her daughter, and her sleazy but wealthy stepfather in Singapore. When she is caught carrying on an affair with the heir to a rich local family, she is banished from Singapore, sent back to England to live with an aunt she doesn't even know. On the way there, the ship she is on is torpedoed and eventually it turns out that Lucy is among the last to leave Singapore in advance of the Japanese invasion during WWII. When she reaches England, she is unhappy and continues with her scandalous attention seeking, larking about as if there wasn't a deadly war on. Uncharacteristically she befriends a young evacuee boy, Bill Smedley, and agrees to take him back to London from Cornwall to search for his mam. Along the way, they face disappointment and diversions, misunderstandings and close calls, and Lucy is forced to trust and rely on steady, nice, good guy Michael McKeegan, a soldier invalided out of the army whom she first met in Singapore and whom she can't quite believe is for real. As Lucy tries to find her own sense of belonging and home, she struggles with the promise she made to Bill, especially when fulfilling that promise might conflict with her own possibly selfish wants and desires.

Lucy's character to start is defensive, brittle, brash, and determined. She is completely closed off to others emotionally, taking what she wants without getting her heart involved, never risking real hurt. Her behaviour may be shocking and undesirable but it shields an aching heart and when she opens up just a little to the sneaky, endearing rapscallion that is Bill, her whole being starts to change. Her experiences as the two of them, sometimes joined by Michael, journey toward London help to crystallize her character, giving her an insight into her own heart that she never before wanted to examine. Bill is a delightful, cheeky child and his presence as Lucy's side kick lightens the book up considerably. Their interactions are often humorous and sweet. Michael is almost too good to be true as a character and he selflessly plays Lucy's knight in shining armor more than once. The plot clips along at a good pace and the reader is often uncertain whether old Lucy (selfish and out for herself) or evolving Lucy (learning to honor commitments and not playing fast and loose with others) is going to choose what she does next. The historical details are well researched and presented and the scrapes that Lucy and Bill get into on the way to London and once there are completely believable and quite entertaining. The love story gets a little bit of a short shrift but Lucy is learning to love in more ways than just a traditional love story so it works. With so many WWII novels recently, this one stands out as different: a maturing and personal discovery set during wartime heightened and highlighted by the circumstances but still very internal for all that. Historical fiction fans who can get past an initially not altogether pleasant main character will enjoy this novel quite a bit. ( )
  whitreidtan | Sep 19, 2017 |
This is a well written book about WWII and how it affected the lives of the rich. I can promise you that you won't like the main character at the beginning of the book - she is sarcastic and rude and a real elitist who doesn't care how other people live or how the war is changing their lives. Don't let your feelings towards her, affect your decision to continue reading this book. I think that the author deliberately made her unlikable to show how she changes throughout the book. When you finish this book, you'll be glad that you read it and left with a memory of a strong female character.

The book begins in Singapore, where spoiled and pampered Lucy is living the life of luxury with little thought about the oncoming war. After a possible scandal involving her, she is exiled to London to live with an aunt that she barely knows. On the way to London, the transport ship that she is on is torpedoed and she arrives at her aunt's with none of her beautiful clothes. Her aunt's huge home is now being used by the military as a hospital and she isn't at all happy about the rules that she is forced to follow. On a whim, she decides to help a young evacuee return to London to find his mom. What should have been a one day trip, ends up taking weeks and once she gets to London, it's not the beautiful and extravagant London that she remembers. Will Lucy grow up and accept life like it is during these war years or will she continue to yearn for her extravagant and pampered lifestyle from earlier? Her decision affects not only her but other people in her world who have come to know the real Lucy and why she acts the way that she does.

This is a lovely book about the changes being brought about by war and about finding happiness no matter what you have to leave behind. ( )
  susan0316 | Sep 19, 2017 |
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