Title: The Librarian Spy
Author: Madeline Martin
Publication: July 26, 2022
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads):
Ava thought her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress would mean a quiet, routine existence. But an unexpected offer from the US military has brought her to Lisbon with a new mission: posing as a librarian while working undercover as a spy gathering intelligence.
Meanwhile, in occupied France, Elaine has begun an apprenticeship at a printing press run by members of the Resistance. It’s a job usually reserved for men, but in the war, those rules have been forgotten. Yet she knows that the Nazis are searching for the press and its printer in order to silence them.
As the battle in Europe rages, Ava and Elaine find themselves connecting through coded messages and discovering hope in the face of war.
**A copy of the book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
My favorite type of historical fiction is those that talk about the women who didn’t have to step in, but made the choice to take on jobs that were dangerous and put them far outside their comfort zones. These women were pertinent to ending the Nazi regime because they were jobs that men simply could not do. They could go places men couldn’t go and get away with it without being detected. The Librarian Spy was one of those stories.
We follow two women in this book, Ava and Elaine. Two women from vastly different walks of life that were brought to the center of World War II by situations mostly out of their control, but made huge differences because of their work. I really enjoyed both women. They were vastly different. Ava was a single woman librarian who was sent to collect and scan papers to give hints on what Hitler and his men were doing. Elaine was a married woman who had to endure some hard realities when her husband goes missing. She really was a housewife thrust into the center of the story. These women were written so well that I feel Madeline Martin had to have based them on women in her own life. They were real and vulnerable and likeable. You wanted them to come out on top. You wanted to see them succeed and I found myself holding my breath every time they were in danger. I enjoyed learning more and more about them as the story went on and Martin peeled back those layers as the characters developed.
I usually don’t love when there are two storylines going on at the same time, but separate. These two stories, however, were intertwined and slowly unraveled to reveal how these women so far apart were tied together. There were a few moments when I felt the story slowed too much and I was just about to start losing interest and it would pick up. I wish those lulls were not in there and the story just kept me edgy the entire time. However, I enjoyed reading the harsh realities of life at that time. I could picture the empty shelves at the grocers and feel the hunger pains those people felt when they had next to nothing to eat. I felt the shock refugees felt when they go to where Ava was and realized food wasn’t an issue anymore. Martin did a wonderful job of creating a picture in your mind of what these characters saw, where they lived and how they felt.
I am thoroughly impressed with The Librarian Spy and Madeline Martin as a writer. I loved the flow of the story and the climactic parts that kept you on the edge of your seat. I look forward to picking up more from her. While her story was heartbreaking, it was also beautiful and hopeful. A fantastic book for just about anyone.