This book came into my life because it is the selection for a reading group. Based on all the 5 star reviews on Goodreads for this one, I can see that it has wide appeal. I read this “smart, suspenseful, and morally complicated spy novel for our time” with “Book Club Sarah” on one shoulder and “History Buff Sarah” on the other.
The Good from Book Club Sarah: From my book club experiences I understand that there is a demand for and appreciation of chick-lit historical fiction. This book and others from this genre offer readers an opportunity to learn about an interesting historical time period or situation. I can’t argue with female centric literature or learning. Nothing thrills me more than to discover a new interest and go down a rabbit hole to learn all I can. While I had read about the SOE and the many ways women severed in WWII in occupied areas, I had missed or forgotten the story of Vera Atkins. A new rabbit hole!
The Ugly from History Buff Sarah: Several times I wondered about the timeline or a fact, but I reminded myself that this was fiction and decided at try to read the book as others in the reading group might. I think some of my questions had more to do with writing style than with misrepresentation. Pam Jenoff has degrees in international affairs and history and she has worked for the Pentagon and State Department. I trust her expertise and bow to her desire to write historical fiction with wide appeal. There were some plot points that had me rolling my eyes, but I read on being open to the story.
Conclusion: The book tells a dramatic story based on the lives of very brave people in a dangerous time. It also brings to light a story that could easily be lost in the footnotes of history. In drastic times an individual must make hard decisions to protect what is most important to him/her. Not everyone makes a brave or noble choice. It is easy to sit on a porch and make judgements without really knowing who you would chose to be in a dire situation. Maybe this is exactly the thoughts that this book was meant to invoke. Maybe this is exactly the type of story and thought process that is needed at this time.