Pam Jenoff has been a long standing favorite author of mine. I read one of her earlier novels, The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach, and was completely sold on her writing. Since then I have read more of her books and absolutely love how she crafts a tale.
When this book came up for review, it was an instant yes without any hesitation. I am absolutely in love with the cover and she is such a strong writer in the WWII period that I had zero reservations about this one.
Had I never read any of her books or even heard of her, that cover alone would sell me on this book. It really is a beautifully composed cover and I love that the artist capitalized on the clock tower. I knew before even downloading the copy that it was going to be a wonderful read.
Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.
Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.
Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war, and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances (summary from Goodreads).
This is am impressive story. I have noticed that a popular trend in historical fiction right now is writing about strong women with exceptional roles in history and I am loving it. This novel features two women who ended up being spies in WWII and they went in to extremely dangerous situations. On that fact alone, this book would be a 5 star read.
But Jenoff goes further and adds this special layer of friendship between the two main characters. Its easy to connect with the characters because the period is so unsettling and tension is high and in these women we find that there is no other choice but to accept them for who they are even if under normal circumstances we might not like them as readers. That’s why a war setting works so well in a story like this. It’s not normal circumstances and these aren’t normal women which sets them apart and endears them to readers.
This is historical fiction but it’s deeply rooted in history. This story is based on true events and it’s clear that the author has done a tremendous amount of research on her subject so it feels like an authentic story. I know there are some people who shy away from historical fiction because they don’t like all the history background, but in this book it’s exciting history. It’s suspenseful and there are little details within the story that I think will appeal to a wider audience.