When Valentina Baker was only eleven years old, her mother, Eloise, unexpectedly fled to her native London, leaving Val and her father on their own in California. Now a librarian in her thirties, fresh out of a failed marriage and still at odds with her mother’s abandonment, Val feels disenchanted with her life.
In a bittersweet twist of fate, she receives word that Eloise has died, leaving Val the deed to her mother’s Primrose Hill apartment and the Book Garden, the storied bookshop she opened almost two decades prior. Though the news is devastating, Val jumps at the chance for a new beginning and jets across the Atlantic, hoping to learn who her mother truly was while mourning the relationship they never had.
As Val begins to piece together Eloise’s life in the U.K., she finds herself falling in love with the pastel-colored third-floor flat and the cozy, treasure-filled bookshop, soon realizing that her mother’s life was much more complicated than she ever imagined. When Val stumbles across a series of intriguing notes left in a beloved old novel, she sets out to locate the book’s mysterious former owner, though her efforts are challenged from the start, as is the Book Garden’s future. In order to save the store from financial ruin and preserve her mother’s legacy, she must rally its eccentric staff and journey deep into her mother’s secrets. With Love from London is a story about healing and loss, revealing the emotional, relatable truths about love, family, and forgiveness.
From the very beginning, With Love from London captured my obsession for books and romantic settings. Our narrators are Valentina and Eloise, and they alternate between the past and the present. As we turn the pages, we gradually learn about the characters and how their lives have been torn and twisted by events out of their control.
I couldn’t help but feel the pang of lost love and a broken relationship between mother and daughter that was abruptly torn apart by serendipitous events. We gradually learn more about those choices, and Valentina finally has her answers by the end, aided by a Scavenger Hunt designed by her mother. A beautiful story that was heartbreaking and satisfying at the same time. 5 stars.