ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The London Bookshop Affair by Louise Fein

The London Bookshop Affair by Louise Fein is published in paperback today by William Morrow Paperbacks and is also available in eBook and audiobook. My thanks to Louise and Harper360 for the proof copy.

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.

The London Bookshop Affair is a delightful dual timeline story set in 1962, during the Cold War, and 1942, during World War II. In 1962 London, Celia works in an antiquarian bookshop. She enjoys her work but there’s a part of her that longs for more. Her parents are quite strict and her life sometimes feels rather small. When circumstances at the bookshop change, combined with a charming stranger entering her life, maybe she’s about to get the excitement she’s been looking for. The 1940s story is not as prominent but it’s very important. It follows Anya who has been sent to France as part of the resistance and who is betrayed. How the two timelines are linked isn’t immediately clear but I thought they came together really well.

I don’t know a lot about the Cold War and so this was an interesting read for me. Louise Fein doesn’t overload the reader with information about espionage and the very real threat at the time of nuclear war, but she does give just enough to facilitate Celia’s story and to add a bit of an exciting element overall. I liked Celia, who has quite a steely core underneath what seems like a quite naïve personality at times. I really enjoyed her work at the bookshop and her quest to improve herself. I also found Anya’s story fascinating and heartbreaking.

The London Bookshop Affair is such an engaging book. It took me to post-Second World War London when the memories of that war were still fresh in people’s minds, and the prospect of another devastating war was unthinkable. It covers many absorbing subjects, with some really well-drawn characters, from Celia’s downtrodden parents, to the mysterious Mrs Denton at the bookshop, and our two feisty heroines of course. Fein always writes emotive and enthralling historical fiction and this is no exception. I enjoyed it very much.

Louise writes historical fiction, focusing on unheard voices or from unusual perspectives. Her debut novel, Daughter of the Reich (entitled People Like Us in the UK edition) was published in 2020 into 13 territories and is set in 1930’s Leipzig. The book was shortlisted for the RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2021 and the RNA Historical Novel of the Year Award, 2021. Louise’s second novel, The Hidden Child, was published in 2021 and is centered around the eugenics movement in 1920’s England and America. It was a Globe & Mail bestseller in Canada. Her third novel, The London Bookshop Affair, about one woman’s journey to uncover secrets of her past, set against a backdrop of espionage and looming nuclear war in 1962 London, will be published in January 2024.

Louise, previously a lawyer and banker, holds an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University and now writes full time. Equally passionate about historical research and writing, she loves to look for themes which have resonance with today’s world. Louise lives in the Surrey countryside, UK, with her family, and is a slave to the daily demands of her pets.

For more information, go to and sign up to Louise’s newsletter. She also posts regularly to her blog at, or follow her on Facebook,; Twitter,; or Instagram,


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