The Last Night in London

Berkley
Published April 20, 2021
ISBN-10: 0451492013
ISBN-13: 9780451492012

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The Last Night in London

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New York Times bestselling author Karen White weaves a captivating story of friendship, love, and betrayal that moves between war-torn London during the Blitz and the present day.

London, 1939. Beautiful and ambitious Eva Harlow and her American best friend, Precious Dubose, are trying to make their way as fashion models. When Eva falls in love with Graham St. John, an aristocrat and Royal Air Force pilot, she can’t believe her luck that she’s getting everything she ever wanted. Then the Blitz devastates her world, and Eva finds herself slipping into a web of intrigue, spies, and secrets. As Eva struggles to protect her friendship with Precious and everything she holds dear, all it takes is one unwary moment to change their lives forever…

London, 2019. American journalist Maddie Warner, whose life has been marked by the tragic loss of her mother, travels to London to interview Precious about her life in pre-WWII London. Maddie has been careful to close herself off to others, but in Precious she recognizes someone whose grief rivals her own—but unlike Maddie, Precious hasn’t allowed it to crush her.  Maddie finds herself drawn to both Precious and to Colin, her enigmatic surrogate nephew.  As Maddie gets closer to her, she begins to unravel Precious’s haunting past—a story of friendship, betrayal, and the unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

“Karen White devotees old and new will flock to The Last Night In London, a captivating intergenerational story spanning decades from the fashion scene of pre-World War II Europe to present day London.  Mystery, peril and romance combine in a heady cocktail that will keep readers bubbling with curiosity until the last page and thirsty for more when they’re done.  Bravo!” – Pam Jenoff, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Lost Girls of Paris

“What happens when a woman’s secrets become a trap she can’t escape? Romance, intrigue, and a decades-old mystery bind three women’s lives with invisible threads. From the devastation of World War II London to the journey of a modern-day journalist struggling to find herself, Karen White delivers a page turner with heart, grit, and a perfect twist at the end.” – Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Before We Were Yours and The Book of Lost Friends

“With keen insight and a profoundly human cast of characters, Karen White creates a powerful story of love and redemption in Blitz-battered London and the bittersweet echoes of long-ago lives in the present day. Each piece of the puzzle lands with meticulous precision, each twist of espionage and heart-pounding betrayal propels you forward to a devastating denouement. The Last Night in London is storytelling at its finest—the kind of book you sink inside and experience, a true gift to readers.” – Beatriz Williams, NYT bestselling author of Her Last Flight

Prolific author White (Dreams of Falling, 2018) intertwines the stories of two women, separated by generations but connected by grief, who both survive loss and reinvent themselves after tragedy.” – Booklist, Review

“[A] page-turning story.” – Publishers Weekly, Review

“One thing you should know about me is that I’m very good at noticing details about people. Why does Colin call you Madison if your friends call you Maddie?”

I considered evading the truth, but knew that her sharp gaze missed nothing. If I wanted her to be frank and open with me, I needed to do the same. “Because we aren’t really friends.”

She raised an elegant eyebrow. “And why is that?”

I felt her discerning gaze upon me again, seeing the truth behind my smile. I took a deep breath. “Because I dated some of his friends.”

She frowned. “Did Colin never ask you for a date?”

“Actually, he did. We even went out once.”

She didn’t say anything but continued to look at me as if waiting for me to say more. I sighed, deciding to be candid. “We had a great time. That’s when I realized that Colin is the kind of guy a girl could really fall for. In a permanent way. So I never went out with him again even though he asked. More than once. With his buddies, there was no danger of anything permanent.”

She was quiet for a moment— digesting my answer, I supposed. “And now?” she asked. “Do you still only date temporary men?”

I met her gaze. “Yes.”

“In my day, they had a word for girls like you.”

I swallowed. “Yes, well, if that makes you uncomfortable, I’m sure Arabella can find another journalist.” I began to slide off of the small chaise, my legs bumping the table so the liquid in the glasses sloshed over the sides.

“Wait,” she said, the force of the word surprising us both. “Don’t go. I’m the last person in the world to judge.”

I stopped and looked at her, trying to decipher the emotions crossing her face.

“Did you lose someone you loved?” Precious asked, and I knew she wasn’t speaking of misplacing someone or leaving someone be­hind. And I wondered if that was one of the details she was in the habit of noticing.

“Yes,” I said. “A long time ago.”

She nodded. “Whoever said time heals all wounds is a liar. Grief is like a ghost, isn’t it? Haunting our reflections.”

My eyes prickled. “I’m sorry,” I said again, standing, my hands on the table to keep it from moving. “I’ll leave now. It was a pleasure meeting you.”

“Goodbye, Maddie. Please take the tea and tell everyone that I’m going to rest for a bit. We’ll speak again tomorrow after lunch. We can talk about the clothes then. And how they transformed my world.”

“But . . .” I stopped. She’d closed her eyes, and although she couldn’t possibly already have been sleeping, it was clear she was done speaking.

Knowing I’d been dismissed, I walked to the door, then turned to look at her again, admiring the beautiful lines of her face and wondering at the stories I knew lay hidden behind her closed eyes. Grief is like a ghost.

Yes, there were stories there. I just hoped there would be time to hear them all.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Miss Dubose,” I said to her still form, then shut the door quietly behind me.

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