Book Review: With Love from London by Sarah Jio

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.

But first…

With Love from London by Sarah Jio book cover

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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.

London street, pretty building

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

London street, decorative hanging flowers

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.

Street lamp in London

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.

Buy the Book:  Bookshop | Amazon

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.

My full With Love from London Literary Date is up on the blog now!

Also, enjoy these pics from London:

Red telephone booths in London seen during my With Love from London literary date

Quintessentially London, the red telephone booths were all over.

 

Big Ben, London busses street scene

Gotta admire Big Ben and those red London busses

 

Jane Austen Memorial at Westminster Abbey

Jane Austen Memorial seen in Westminster Abbey. I love Jane Austen. One day I want to go back just to do literary dates devoted to Jane Austen.

 

Platinum Jubilee knitted figurines of Queen, crown jewels, and corgi

Seen outside of Windsor Castle. Decoration for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, which was celebrated a week prior to my arrival

 

Corgi statue to commemorate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee 2022

Carol, designed by Jurga Amehome, her inspiration for this is peace and unity. This statue is part of the “Corgi Trail” that was created to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and the Queen’s love of corgis. 19 corgis have been placed throughout London. I was so happy to stumble upon one of the corgi statues especially since they will only be up throughout June and July. Lucky me!

 

Buckingham Palace gates

Oh what famous palace rests beyond these gates?

 

Picture of me in front of the Thames River and Big Ben

Picture taken by Cinna

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.

Check out some of my most popular literary dates:

8 Fun Things to Do in Chinatown, NYC | Girl in Translation Literary Date

YOU & Me & NYC Tour: You, Set in New York City

My Breakfast at Tiffany’s Tour in the City

 

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7 Comments

  1. July 24, 2022 / 12:34 pm

    Love your London photos and I can’t wait to see more! Also, what a great idea to do a photo shoot while you’re there. I love it! It’s a great way to capture some unique memories. Looking forward to the next post!

    • July 24, 2022 / 5:25 pm

      Yes! I’m so glad I did that photo shoot. Going on my own, I just decided to splurge a bit to make sure my trip would be documented with pics of myself too. Although I ended up having lots of nice people willing to take my picture, I’m glad I got some great photos with Cinna. It was a fun experience. Another solo traveler was with me too so it was sweet meeting her too and watching her get her pictures taken. Glad you liked my post! I’m so excited to share more!

  2. Rosey Lee
    July 24, 2022 / 1:02 pm

    Gorgeous photos. And now I’m very curious about the book too!

    • July 24, 2022 / 5:26 pm

      Thank you!! I really enjoyed the book, it was pretty sweet. Definitely recommend. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  3. July 26, 2022 / 12:04 pm

    Love love all your photos from London and that you got to incorporate your literary dates there too! It’s been a long time coming, and I can’t wait to see where you’re heading next. Of course, we still need to hear about all the London-based books you read and see more pictures of your adventures.

    I have added this book to my TBR list. I can’t resist books that go back in time to tell a story.

    • July 31, 2022 / 10:12 am

      Thank you thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. More is coming! Hope you enjoy the book. I love that aspect too. It’s always cool going back in time and we get two stories in one. 🙂

  4. August 5, 2022 / 3:21 am

    This such a cool way to get inspired to read a bunch of books! :] I feel like I’d want a cat cafe with my bookstore too, hehehe. This book is definitely getting added to my to-read list!

    <3 corgis! I'm glad you had an amazing time in London and that's cool that you were able to get a photographer through Airbnb Experiences! I've always been curious about that.

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