The Air Raid Book Club - Reviewed by Fiona Robinson | Regional News Connecting Wellington

The Air Raid Book Club

Written by: Annie Lyons

William Morrow & Company

Reviewed by: Fiona Robinson

This heart-warming novel was a surprise hit for me. Annie Lyons wasn’t an author I’d read before, although I’m enjoying the current crop of books about the Second World War told from female viewpoints. The Air Raid Book Club is the perfect novel for booklovers like me and you, particularly fans of the 19th-century classics with the odd nod to the golden age of detective fiction.

The book revolves around Bingham Books – a shop set up in London in the 1930s by our hero Gertie Bingham and her husband Harry. But Harry has died and Gertie is left bereft and grieving. Life no longer holds the joy and sense of purpose it did for Gertie. She is drifting and so considers selling up the bookshop and retiring.

That is until her friend Charles asks her to take in a child refugee from a desperate Jewish family living in Germany. Despite a tough start, headstrong teenager Hedy gives Gertie a reason to keep going. They bond over the Brontë sisters and start an air raid book club to keep their neighbours’ spirits up during the Blitz.

As the bombs fall, the neighbours huddle in the bookshop’s air raid shelter and connect over Jane Eyre, Rebecca, and A Christmas Carol. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is one of my favourite books of all time, so I think Gertie has great taste! These connections over much-loved novels lead to deepening friendships that help Gertie and her neighbours get through the war and the tough times ahead for them all. They support each other through the highs and lows, celebrate signs of romance, and are there for Hedy as she awaits news of her family back in Germany and desperately seeks to be reunited with them one day.

This book was charming and reminded me of all the classics I have loved. It has inspired me to reread some of my favourites again, including Little Women. I guarantee you’ll enjoy The Air Raid Book Club and it would make a good gift to give to a book-loving friend.

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