I don’t own a physical copy of Love, Lies and Spies, I purchased it on my Kindle. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard much about this novel since its release in April! The story follows Juliana Telford, a young lady who at the beginning of the novel, expresses her disinterest in the institution of marriage, as she has a far greater obligation being her studies of natural sciences. This is unheard of during this time period in which this novel takes place (during the Napoleonic Wars). I suppose you could classify this book as a historical fiction, although the time period and the historical events kind of take a back seat to the characters’ lives. I would classify this novel more as a romance, with some historical fiction elements. What I loved about this novel, is how Juliana, the main character defies all the social norms and gender expectations of her time, by proving time and time again that she is capable without a man, (although she does find herself in some positions of receiving assistance from Mr. Northam).
The other main character, Mr. Northam turns out to be a spy for the War Office, so he also in the beginning of the book has no intentions on marrying. However, when him and Juliana meet, and start spending time together, it makes them both re-think the value of the institution of marriage itself.
The novel was written in such a way that it kind of reminded me of something Jane Austen might write. The prose was eloquent, and it felt almost like you were reading a classic novel. I also liked how the setting was described, as the plot was set in London.
I would say my favourite thing about this book was the strong female protagonist defying the social conventions regarding gender during her time period, by not wanting to get married, and conducting academic research. What I was hoping more for in this book, is to see more into the spy lifestyle. I guess I was looking for a little bit more adventure and plot twists, however this novel delivered mostly just family drama and romance (which there is nothing wrong with).
I did like the romance in the novel, as everyone knows, I prefer the traditional guys who are gentlemanly, and that was exactly what Mr. Northam was! 🙂
Some of my favourite/Notable Quotes from the Novel:
“Enough of this nonsense. Who would want to read a natural history as observed by a lady? And a young lady at that! Now be off with you. I am an important man with much to do. This is all beyond your understanding. I recommend, most heartily, that you go back to your needlepoint and leave the pursuit of learning to those who minds to do so.”
“Independence and free-thinking are most unattractive in a young girl.”
“But it didn’t matter what right now. For she knew that the man she admired most in the world admired her. It was in his eyes.”
“There are not enough superlatives in the English language to capture even a tenth of my emotions.”
I give this book 3.5/5 stars! I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys classic novels, especially Jane Austen’s works, or perhaps who just enjoy a story with unconventional characters, and a strong female protagonist that as she comes to the realization that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, her study of the natural sciences or marriage, but with the right person, she can have both.