I finished reading Her Secret War by Pam Lecky, the fourth book in my Historical Fiction Around the World series focused on authors from around the world. This story was published just a few months ago, in October 2021, so is far more contemporary to me than the first three books I read. The result is a distinctly different atmosphere to the story. The reasons for that are probably far more varied than I can put my finger on, but I’ll try.
I’ll start with my overall view of this story. It was far easier to read for one thing. No glossary or maps were required to follow the story or understand the language used. I enjoyed the sprinkling of Irish and English idioms and sayings, which were all easily understood from the context. This story also featured a female main character and her life during World War II in Dublin and then in England. As I read, the flow and cadence of the language along with the colloquialisms reminded me of my time in Ireland. I once had a critique partner who I met up with on a visit to Dublin years ago. We had a lovely time getting acquainted in person over tea. I think tea in Europe tastes better…but that may just be the setting and company!
The style of writing in Her Secret War is also more upbeat and quickly paced. Concerns of the main character Sarah Gillespie are more immediate and comprehendible to me as well. Some of that is undoubtedly because I am also a female with sisters and family, but I think the level of understanding also stems from language usage more similar to my own. The word choices also make it easier to read and follow the story as well. As a writer myself, it’s often apparent how specific words evoke specific feelings or experiences associated with the message.
I think also the plot is cleaner, clearer, despite the inevitable twists and turns that a mystery, or spy thriller, must take to keep us turning the page. The author is more focused on that thread than the overall political environment. I believe I’ve stated before that I’m not a fan of political thrillers, so this historical was easier for me to enjoy. Her focus makes it possible to enjoy the story without having a lesson in the politics of the day. Sure, she refers to them but that’s not the primary point of the story. To me, the story is far more about how Sarah comes to deal with her situation as a result of the bombing of her home in Dublin.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the writing, and the characters. I had only one tiny grumble while reading the story, but it’s not worth making a fuss about. If you like WWII historical fiction about a female protagonist, indeed a female spy, I’d suggest giving this one a try. It appears this may be the first in a series. At least, the next book, Her Last Betrayal, is due to release November 1, 2022. Will there be others? I wouldn’t be surprised if her fans would prompt the publisher to ask for more!
Next up for me is The Mathematics of Love by Emma Darwin. In case you’re wondering how I’m choosing what to read, I have a long list of titles sorted by the author’s native country then by author name. I’m working up from the end of the alphabet, beginning with the UK, choosing from authors from different countries within that group of countries. I hope you’ll read along with me and tell me your thoughts and opinions of the stories.
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She lost everything but only his love can save her…
How does one recover after tragic loss demolishes your heart and soul? Meredith Reed grapples with that question every day, especially after she inherits Twin Oaks. The historic plantation is meant for a large family but hers no longer exists. She has some ideas for its future: tear it down; bulldoze it; burn it. Regardless of her incensed family and the handsome, irate estate lawyer’s objections. And despite the influence of the Lady in Blue haunting the place…
Max Chandler anticipates buying his dream home with the raise from his expected promotion after passage of the historic property preservation legislation he championed. Twin Oaks is just the sort of place he dreams of. Big and roomy, with lingering echoes of laughter and love from past generations within its very walls. Perfect. Except, perhaps, for the Civil War era ghosts in residence. They’ll have to go.
When Twin Oaks is threatened with a bulldozer, he has to fight, ignoring his growing attraction to Meredith. Her intentions go against everything he’s worked for. He has no choice but to do all in his power to stop her.
Will Meredith’s grief destroy her heart and home or will she listen to what the Lady in Blue is trying to teach her?
(Updated and revised edition; originally published in 2014 as Traces.)