Last month I had the pleasure of hosting author Clare Harvey on the blog and she talked about the realities of researching and writing Historical Fiction, a post I really enjoyed (you can read it here). And today I'm reviewing her latest story:
Title: The English Agent
Author: Clare Harvey
Published: February 23rd 2017 by Simon & Schuster
Blurb: How far will two women go to survive a war?
Having suffered a traumatic experience in the Blitz, Edie feels utterly disillusioned with life in wartime London. The chance to work with the Secret Operations Executive (SOE) helping the resistance in Paris offers a fresh start. Codenamed ‘Yvette’, she’s parachuted into France and met by the two other members of her SOE cell. Who can she trust?
Back in London, Vera desperately needs to be made a UK citizen to erase the secrets of her past. Working at the foreign office in charge of agents presents an opportunity for blackmail. But when she loses contact with one agent in the field, codenamed Yvette, her loyalties are torn.
Review: What an interesting story The English Agent turned out to be! I have read several historical fiction novels set in WW2 in the last few months so I wasn't expecting a big surprise from this one, but I soon realized that Clare Harvey had chosen a very unusual topic that people (or at least me in particular) don't know much about: the role of women as spies during the war.
The story follows Eddie as she lands in Nazi-occupied Paris to be the link and coder between the French resistance group and London. At the same time, we also learn about Vera, who recruits and trains spies as Eddie. I was fascinated by how brave these women were and how they always had to work extra hard to prove themselves just because they were women.
Both characters though were really cagey. We really didn't know about their pasts but there were clearly dark secrets behind them. So at the beginning I was really not sure what to think about them. Also, they were far from perfect and some of their decisions were questionable. I have to say though that they grew on me and I was hoping for the best for them, even if their futures seemed quite doomed.
Not only I liked the characters but also the pace of the story. The tension built up slowly at the beginning as we got to know everyone and what their role was but as the action started, I couldn't keep myself off the pages of this book. Plus, the story is based in real people, so I after finishing it, it really made me think how they must have felt and lived back then. I always enjoy books that teach me something new I didn't know about and The English Agent is one of those.
All in all, a well researched and entertaining story that with strong and interesting characters. It really gave me an idea of how the occupied Paris must have been and how people lived in fear all the time, especially the brave one fighting from inside. A highly recommended read for historic novels fans.
Rating: 5 stars
I would like to thank the publisher for sending me a copy of this book. This is my honest opinion.