With a trip to London booked, my next task was not to read all the travel books (although truth be told, I did purchase Rick Steves’ London guidebook), but to read ALL the fabulous books set in London. I soon learned that was quite the task and I’ll be honest, I had a bit of trepidation wondering if I would read books that would inspire some fun literary dates in London.
It has been my dream to take literary dates abroad and finally, now it is happening. Filled with excitement and dressed in my favorite stretchy waistbanded shorts, I devoured ALL the London books.
Maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, however, I read A LOT, A LOT A LOT. So many that not all will inspire literary dates, some were easy to admit they wouldn’t make the cut, but others, I shed some tears to let go of. I read so many amazing books and will continue to do so in order to share an epic London book list, which will come.
I’ll be honest, when I read books now it’s all about location location location and when I saw With Love from London is set in Primrose Hill in London, I was sold. I had heard great things about that area and I so wanted to visit. I hoped and prayed I would enjoy this book and that I did. Yay!
With Love from London by Sarah Jio sends Valentina Baker to Primrose Hill after the mother who abandoned her as a child sadly passes away. Although under tragic circumstances, the chance to escape her life where her marriage has crumbled, is alluring to Val.
While Val is still reeling from the abandonment, unexpectantly finding herself the owner of her mom’s Primrose Hill apartment and the bookstore below it, has given Val a new lease on life. Did I mention she’s a librarian and a bookstagrammer? So yeah, finding yourself an owner of a bookstore is probably every librarian bookstagrammer’s dream. Mine would include a cat café. Anyway…
Of course, nothing comes easy as Val soon learns that the bookstore is in major debt and whatever will she do to keep it alive? This sounds like she needs a hot guy’s help. Nooo, she’s a strong, independent woman so I’m sure she’ll manage. She will, however, need to forge bonds with the endearing people of the community.
With Love from London also sends us back in time to 1968 and to the mother who left her, Eloise. With Eloise’s POV we learn about Eloise’s dreams, her suitors, meet her best friend Millie, and learn how she ends up in America and ultimately back to London, leaving her only child.
As Val grapples with the death of her mom and her complicated feelings surrounding it, she finds notes in a book that lead her on a scavenger hunt masterminded by her mother, messages and riddles from beyond that help Val piece together what happened and maybe lead her to forgiveness and perhaps a life filled with love.
Thoughts on With Love from London
With Love from London is what Londoners would call, lovely. Absolutely lovely. It was a joy to read. I enjoyed the arc of Val arriving in London thinking it would just be a trip to tie up the loose ends to something more. She goes from a place of bitterness and anger to love and acceptance.
I enjoyed the dual perspectives, it was fun going back in time and also getting to know Eloise as we follow her path that ultimately leads to leaving her daughter. Will it be justified? That’s the big question that hooks us and keeps us wondering while turning the pages. We get to know Eloise, her friendships, her love, her dreams, and what she’s like as a mother.
I loved following Val as she falls for Primrose Hill and the people in it. The community pulls you in and warms your heart as you follow along in the friendships Val forms in the neighborhood.
With Love from London has that small-town charm where the people come together to champion a cause, in this case, a beloved bookstore and this is exactly how we imagine small towns to be. I smiled as I read it and also was captivated by the scavenger hunt Val was sent on by her mom. It’s a fun driving force to the story which gives the hope that at the end of it Val will come to an understanding and peace about what happened.
As I read Eloise’s POV, I was drawn in by her and completely invested in her story. Admittedly, there were frustrating moments along with the heartbreaking ones. I felt for her and did come to understand what happened, but it’s still hard. You still wonder. But life is complicated and it can be too easy to judge. It was a different time.
Although this is mostly a mother/daughter story, there is romance for both Val and Eloise. I always love my stories with a dash of romance to keep them going. In addition to romance, this clearly is a story about friendships. Stories like this remind you of the importance of close, supportive bonds. How we can’t go through life alone. We will always need people so have to surround ourselves with good eggs. Val is taken in by a community that becomes like family and it’s a beautiful aspect of With Love from London.
I definitely was enchanted by this story, it grapples with grief, regret, and love, and explores the dynamics of a mother-daughter bond rocked by abandonment. It’s heartbreaking but also inspiring and hopeful. It is a delight that sends the reader to a fabulous location.
Check out my full literary date as With Love from London takes us to Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park, Notting Hill, and a surprise bonus spot.
Also, enjoy these pics from London:
I had an AMAZING time in London. It was my first ever solo trip and it is literary dates that inspired me to do it. Thank you to everyone who has followed along on literary dates because if not for you, I wouldn’t have done it. I’m so excited to share London with you à la Literary Dates style.
*I have quite a few photographs that were taken by photographer, Cinna. I found her through Airbnb Experiences and it was a fun little photography tour going to iconic sites to pretend to be a model. Cinna was great and so nice. Highly recommend her if you ever are in London. I love the photos and it was not expensive at all. It’ll help me remember my trip for years to come.
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