The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin

The Librarian Spy

I fell in love with THE LAST BOOKSHOP IN LONDON when I came across it last year. Madeline Martin quickly became one of my favorite historical fiction novelists. When I discovered she had written a new novel, well, I could not wait to get my hands on it. I am grateful to the publishing house of Hanover Square Press for sending me a gorgeous finished copy. And I love that it’s a trade paperback edition which makes it so great for bookclubs.

Yes, this is a novel of World War 11. And it’s amazing. I had no idea Portugal was neutral in the war. So this was a brand new tidbit for me. A large part of the novel takes place in Lisbon.

Ava, an American working in The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. during WW11, was enjoying working quietly with the rare books in the safety she was enveloped in here in America. When she was offered a position working undercover as a librarian in Lisbon, she didn’t have to think hard before jumping aboard. Suddenly, she’s a spy.

Elaine is living in occupied Lyon, France, and working as an apprentice learning how to work the printing press that makes the material for the resistance workers to distribute to the brave people who work behind the scenes, risking their lives and changing the odds the Nazis are working so hard to keep steady

What do these two strong women have in common? Coding. When Ava breaks the code from one of Elaine’s postings, a bond is forged that no one can break.

I loved the scenes in Lisbon. The food, the street scenes, the people. Reading and books and periodicals are the materials that bring the crucial facts into the world from behind the front that shields the war world. The truth will come out despite the Nazi’s mission to hide it.

There is a “Sarah’s Key” moment in the midst of this wonderful novel that shows the horrific doings of the Reich up front and very personal. If you have not read SARAH’S KEY, do so immediately. THE LIBRARIAN SPY is a fine historical novel that you can add to your ever-growing shelves of great WW11 novels.

You should know that Martin spent time in both Lisbon and Lyon doing copious research on the ground for this novel. She has managed to incorporate true history involving the librarians during WW11. Amazing job.

We spent some time in Lisbon several years ago. This novel certainly brings back the sights, the smells, and the reminders of how amazing the food and baked goods truly are. One early afternoon as we walked the streets of Lisbon, we stopped in front of a cafe that we had not heard of, looked in and saw the eatery filled with locals enjoying a luncheon feast. We decided on the spur of the moment to join them. We were ushered to the last seats and can still remember the opulence of the amazing fish stew served in a stunning copper bowl. And the bread. If you have never experienced the joy of Portuguese bread, you have missed a piece of heaven.

Lisbon Pottery

We’ve been enjoying this very colorful pot purchased in Lisbon for many years. The colors so bright that they totally punctuate the clay.

The very generous publishing people at Hanover Square Press sent me my finished copy in exchange for an honest review. This is easy: It’s wonderful! You absolutely need this in your TBR pile for right now.

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