It’s time for a new Online Reading Challenge assignment! Our theme is female spies, intelligence work and sacrifice. There are some brilliant books to explore this month, covering spycraft from World War I through the Cold War. I highly recommend The Alice Network and Code Name Verity, two of my favorite books, and I also recommend Our Woman in Moscow.
This month’s main title is The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. In 1915, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance to serve when she’s recruited to work as a spy for the English. Sent into enemy-occupied France during The Great War, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents, right under the enemy’s nose. Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launching them both on a mission to find the truth … no matter where it leads.
Alternate titles include: Code Girls: the untold story of the American women code breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy. This documents the contributions of more than ten thousand American women who served as codebreakers during World War II, detailing how their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and enabled their subsequent careers.
Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams. Autumn, 1948: Iris Digby, her American diplomat husband Sasha, and their two children vanish from London. Were they eliminated by the Soviet intelligence service? Or have the Digbys defected to Moscow with a trove of the West’s most vital secrets? Four years later Ruth Macallister receives a postcard from Iris, the twin sister she hasn’t seen since their catastrophic parting in Rome in the summer of 1940. Now Ruth is on her way to Moscow, posing as the wife of counterintelligence agent Sumner Fox in a precarious plot to extract the Digbys from behind the Iron Curtain.
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant, but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club. Her career has stalled out, so when she’s given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic revolutionary president of Burkina Faso whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. In the year that follows, Marie will observe Sankara, seduce him, and ultimately have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.
This title is also available as an e-audiobook.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.
Check for these titles and more featured in displays at each of the Davenport Library buildings!