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  • Life's lesson for the day

    I received a free electronic ARC of this excellent historical novel from Netgalley, author Karen White, and publisher Berkley. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Karen White writes a tightly told tale with precise location details and historical facts. This is her first historical novel that I have read. This is an exceptional look into wartime London with a sweet mystery on the side. Two women, separated emotionally by time and space and each still grieving the loss of a special soul. They share a many-great grandfather, according to Ancestry.com. What else do they have in common? Madison Warner, known as Maddie to her friends, is a thoroughly modern (Spring, 2019) freelance American journalist. Mourning the loss of her older sister to the same breast cancer that took their mother, knowing that she too carries the gene and probably has the same potential outcome, Maddie resolves to hold herself away from friendships and relationships, not willing to put this sort of emotional pain on the heart of another. With that in mind, she is currently working on a special article covering women's fashions during WWII. What reverberations did the war have on the concept of fashionable attire in Europe? What consequence did the concept of 'fashion' have on the mindsets of Londoners during the war - especially during the nightly bombing runs over London? And what effect did the war have on the concept of 'fashion? Her timing is nearly perfect. Couture houses in London are establishing a museum featuring haute couture throughout the twentieth century. And Jeanne 'Precious' Dubose, an in-demand model in the 1930s and 1940s in both London and Paris and a 'collector' of outfits she has modeled, is about to celebrate her 100th birthday. What better viewpoint can Maddie find for her article? Packing up her jeans and button-down shirts, she prepares to head out to London. Precious Dubose is 99 years old and failing in health. The very thought of interviews and of bringing up the past is disheartening, but she knows her time is short. The question is whether or not she will continue to hide the truths of that past, or will use this opportunity to bring it all out into the light? She is the only soul involved in the heartbreaking wartime conspiracy still breathing air, so the decision is entirely hers to make. Will she trust this young lady to handle the truth fairly and compassionately, or allow all their secrets to die with her?

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  • Excellent - feels real

    I enjoy WWII historical novels, and especially the current trend of weaving together characters from one era to another and highlighting events from the past that have influenced the present. The Last Night in London is an outstanding addition to this group of novels. The book opens in March 1941 with an unidentified woman trying to get an infant to safety in war-torn London. It then jumps to May 2019 London and a trio of friends who went to college together. The initial link between past and present is that Maddie Warner, an American journalist, is going to interview her previously unknown distant relative 99-year old Precious Dubose about her and her best friend Eva Harlow’s experiences as fashion models in London during the war. As the story unfolds and Precious starts to tell her story, Maddie becomes more and more intrigued to learn what happened to Eva and her love Graham St. John after the war, and as a reader I wanted to know the significance of that baby in the prologue. I had a niggling sense there was something more to the story, something that Precious wasn’t sharing. Author Karen White has populated this story with fascinating characters in both time periods. Maggie, Arabella and Colin were great friend in college, but are not as close these days. Maggie keeps on the move; she has a breast cancer gene that took both her mother and grandmother and feels doomed so settling down is not an option for her. She and Colin could have been close but she is not about to have relationships so shut that door in college. This magazine assignment from Arabella appeals to her but she intends to be on the move again as soon as it is completed. Neither Colin, who is a surrogate nephew to Precious, nor Maddie expected to see the other and tension is high. Colin is solemn, somber and cranky. Maddie is thrown off balance seeing him again, but remember – no relationships even if there is definitely something going on there. It seems like Precious will be a terrific heroine for the article – came to London to model, stayed during the war, worked with the resistance in France. But again, it just feels like there’s more to that story. As for Eva, well, she’s hard to like. She reminded me of daughter Veda in the book and movie Mildred Pierce: grasping, greedy, ashamed of her roots. Selfish, shallow, thoughtless, careless. She an ignorant liar, unable to control the greed, the coveting, whatever the cost to others. And while you can understand and perhaps sympathize with her desire to improve her circumstances, to escape the poverty of her childhood, it is just not possible to like or feel sorry for her. She’s cunning in her ability to move upward, but she’s not really all that bright, which is what puts her in terrible danger – and what at last makes her seem very human and relatable. She wants what she hasn’t had, and doesn’t want to give it up once she has it. Not your typical wartime heroine, but oh so real. What happened to her after the war? Author White paints a vivid picture of the time and the contrast between the privileged in society, with their luxurious bomb shelters and exciting nightlife that continued as if there was no war, to those suffering and struggling like Eva in her “old” life. In the present day, the conflict – and caring – between Maddie and Colin and Maddie’s identification with Precious and the grief she has endured is excellently portrayed. These are flawed, human people who make you care what happened to them in the past and what will happen to them in the future. It’s a compelling story with a good dose of history thrown in. Thanks to Penguin Random House for providing an advance copy of The Last Night in London via NetGalley for my reading pleasure and honest review. I was drawn in from the first chapter and kept engaged by the smooth plot, deep, rich characters, romance, danger and real-life worries about life and love and especially the suspense about what Precious was still hiding and how all these characters and events could be connected. All opinions are my own. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend with without hesitation.

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  • Amazing history and wonderful characters

    I picture Precious holding court to her family and friends while sharing the history of her life. I can hear how she tells the stories she wants to share and keeps the secrets that she feels she must. As the story continued, I knew there was more to Precious’ life than it appeared. She lived a life many dream about by being a fashion model in London but has also seen and lived through so many troubling times. The twists and turns of Maddie and Colin’s friendship was unique. Maddie had a different outlook on relationships and did not want to let people get to close her while Colin realized how special Maddie was. I liked that it had a history, a current time, and hopefully a future to look forward to. 400+pages of amazing history, wonderful characters, and an amazing story.

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  • Captivating, enigmatic, and absorbing!

    The Last Night in London is a mysterious, dual-timeline tale set in London during WWII, as well as 2019, that takes you into the lives of two main characters; Maddie Warner, a young journalist who unexpectedly stumbles across an intriguing story involving long-buried secrets and complex relationships after travelling to the home of a distant relative to write an article about wartime fashion, and Precious Dubose, a 99-year-old former model with a story to tell that involves more than just designers and styles but one that is also brimming with heartbreak and deception. The prose is expressive and rich. The characters are determined, resilient, and brave. And the plot is an alluring tale full of twists, turns, drama, duplicity, emotion, betrayal, family, friendship, life, loss, romance and mystique. Overall, The Last Night in London is a bittersweet, evocative, compelling tale by White that illuminates the enduring passion and power of unconditional love and is certainly the perfect choice for historical fiction lovers and long-time fans of Karen White’s work.

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  • wonderful historical fiction

    The Last Night in London is a historical novel revolving around the London fashion scene during the WWII era. The book is a dual timeline with chapters alternating between present (2019) and London 1939-40's. With a hint of mystery and secrets it holds your interest and keeps you turning pages.

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