Interview with Louise Fein: Author of The London Bookshop Affair



JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Louise. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

LF- Thank you so much, I’m delighted to be here! I live in a small village in Surrey. For me, it’s the perfect location as we are surrounded by beautiful countryside but still within easy reach of old market towns like Guildford and Farnham, and our local station has great links with London so I can get my culture fix whenever I need it! I love going to the theatre, museums and art galleries, so I am regularly in London for that and to visit friends. As for fun, that would be having a rowdy dinner with friends, skiing in the Alps on a cold, sunny day, walking in the beautiful English countryside with my dog Bonnie and spending time with my three almost grown-up children. As for my perfect day, it would start with a large mug of tea and a ramble through the countryside with the dog before settling down with an equally large mug of coffee to write. Writing in the morning is definitely when I’m freshest and raring to go! After perhaps three to four hours of very productive writing, a late lunch (naturally magically prepared with no effort on my part), I might meet a friend or two for a coffee and a natter and perhaps go for a run before gathering with the family for the evening meal (again conjured by fairy dust) following which we would all settle down and read a good book or watch a movie. It definitely wouldn’t involve school runs, tackling the dirty washing piles, arguing with teenagers, preparing meals and the like. The reality is usually somewhere between the two!

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

LF- Oh gosh, that is a tough question. There are so many time periods in history I find fascinating, but if I have to pick one, I guess I would have to choose the twentieth century. So much tumultuous change, affecting every aspect of human life over a relatively short period of time. Of course, there were two devastating wars, the like of which had never been seen before, and which altered the world order. But there was so much more than that. From women’s liberation and the breakdown of class and race barriers to the impact of radio, television and mass media; the demise of colonialism to the rise in globalisation and mass migration; from industrial to technological and information revolutions, the impact of the developments of the 20th century and the speed of change are unprecedented in history. It makes for rich pickings for historical novelists.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

LF- Again, it is very hard to narrow it down to one person! I love exploring the stories of those who have rather been forgotten or misaligned by history, and there are so many. For today and Books Delight, I’m going to choose an extraordinary young French woman called Jeannie Rousseau who I have used as inspiration for one of my characters in my soon-to-be-released novel, The London Bookshop Affair. Jeannie was a talented linguist blessed with a fierce intellect and a photographic memory. She was recruited to the French resistance during WWII and gathered intelligence for the Allies under the code name Amniarix. Playing the ‘silly girl’ she frequented the bars in Paris where Nazi officers hung out and she was both charming and discreet and managed to coax from them in astonishing detail, information about the German’s secret work on the V-1 rockets. Pretending she didn’t believe them, she managed to get them to draw plans of the rockets which she memorised and recreated to be sent back to London. These led to the British raids on Peenemünde, where the V-1 and V-2 rockets were under development, resulting in delays and saving thousands of lives. She was eventually captured and sent to three Nazi concentration camps, none of which could break her. She survived and lived to the age of 98. She died in 2017. As for the question I would have for her, I would like to ask her about what it was that kept her going during her torture and incarceration by the Nazis. Her mental strength must have been extraordinary.   

JMR- You previously worked in the law and banking; how did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

LF- Writing has always been a passion but as most writers will attest, it is not, except for the very few, a way to earn a decent living. I needed a career to be able to support myself and after leaving university, becoming a lawyer seemed like a sensible decision at the time! I moved sideways into banking, working for many years on the risk side of the business. But I always wrote as a way to de-stress and to lose myself in something I loved. I would write on my commute home – short stories, poems, beginnings of novels, but I hoped that once I had more time, I would be able to write more seriously. That day came when I saw an advertisement for a master’s degree in creative writing at St Mary’s university which was close to where I lived then. It was specifically geared to writing your first novel. At that time, I was running my own consultancy business because I had had to take a step back from working in the City of London as my youngest daughter had been very ill. My husband urged me to sign up for the course, and it was during my time studying there that I began working on the novel which became by debut, People Like Us (entitled Daughter of the Reich) in the USA.

JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your book? Where did you feel closest to your characters?

LF- If at all possible, I love to visit the settings of my novels. Being historical, these places will always have changed, but there will often be something remaining of interest and relevance – history is all around us if we choose to look! The London Bookshop Affair is set primarily in London, and my main protagonist, Celia, lives in Southwark, South London in 1962. Southwark has changed a good deal since then, but I walked the streets none-the-less, and everywhere there are remnants of the past, from old pubs and warehouses to railway bridges, Victorian cottages and churches. Of course, I also looked at many old photographs, studied maps of the streets and records. I also had the benefit of stories from my grandmother and my mother who lived in Southwark before, during and after the war. It is always important to research from a number of sources, but nothing beats walking the streets without rushing and finding hidden gems you might otherwise miss. Celia works in an antiquarian bookshop on the Strand in central London. It is easy to picture her there, loving the smell and feel of those old books. I think that has to be the place I feel closest to her.   

JMR-Louise, tell us about your new book, The London Bookshop Affair.

LF- The London Bookshop Affair is a dual timeline novel, set primarily in London in the early 1960’s, with another thread set in 1942. It is the story of Celia, an ordinary girl from Southwark in south London, who longs for a career and a bit of excitement in her life, but with no qualifications she is stuck working in a dusty old bookshop. The day a handsome American walks into the shop, she thinks she might have found just what she is longing for. But then she stumbles upon a devastating family secret.


In 1942 war-torn Paris, nineteen-year-old Anya Moreau, an agent of the Secret Operations Executive, was dropped behind enemy lines, tasked with sending messages back to London via wireless transmitter. Cruelly betrayed, her legacy and the injustices done to her were buried to protect others.


As Celia begins to unravel the hidden truths of the past, she becomes unwittingly drawn into a murky world of espionage, uncovering furious efforts, both past and present, to protect state secrets. With the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation, and her new romance taking a surprising turn, will Celia risk everything she holds dear, in the name of justice?


JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

LF- I am working on my fourth novel which is my most ambitious yet! Unfortunately, it’s much too early to say anything about it, but I am very excited by this novel. It is requiring a lot of research as it is partly set in a very different time period for me, and locations I need to become more familiar with. I shall be doing much walking of streets in the coming months! But I love the research and it is a great voyage of discovery for me.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

LF- I have a website with details of all my books. You can sign up to my (infrequent) newsletters for news and giveaway goodies, as well as the odd free short story! You can find me at: I am also on X (Twitter):,  Instagram: and Facebook: I can also be found on BlueSky, Threads and Ticktock all under Louise Fein Author.

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

LF- I was hoping you would ask for some historical fiction book recommendations! You didn’t, but I shall offer some anyway! This year I have read some truly wonderful historical novels, but I shall just mention a few here. First up is The Unspeakable Acts of Zena Pavlou, by Eleni Kyriakou. This novel is inspired by a true crime in the 1950’s and by the second to last woman, a Greek Cypriot, to be executed in England. I absolutely loved it – so beautifully written and a nuanced take on the perpetrators of crime, the victim and justice. It was also a BBC pick for Between the Covers – they have good taste and I highly recommend it! Another wonderful, evocative read was Elizabeth Freemantle’s Disobedient which is the fictionalised account of the 17th Century artist, Artemisia Gentileschi. Written in exquisite prose, it's an unapologetically brutal account of the artist’s fight to be recognised for her talent rather than as a mere chattel to be passed from father to husband. Continuing the feminist theme, I also adored Weyward by Emilia Hart – a wonderful debut novel with three timelines from the 1600s, 1942 and 2017 – tricky to pull off, but she has managed with aplomb – with a dash of magical realism. It is, however, a story of women and their treatment through the ages by unscrupulous men being all too grounded in reality.  

JMR- Thank you Louise for stopping by! Good luck with your new book! Readers, Louise's can be found on Amazon. I've included a link below for you to check it out!


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