Title: The Librarian Spy
Author: Madeline Martin
Publication Date: July 26, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 400
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.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Harper Collins Canada through NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This dual point of view historical fiction book takes place during World War Two. Ava is a librarian who is recruited by the US military to work at the US embassy in Lisbon to help gather intelligence. Her day-to-day duties include going around and gathering as many newspapers she can get her hands on and copying them to microfilm to send back to the United States. Elaine is part of the Resistance in France and works at a printing press that prints clandestine newspapers. As the chapters go back and forth from each of their perspectives, their lives slowly become intertwined as the War continues on around them.
The two main characters in this book were wonderful. They were both strong, courageous, stubborn, and brilliant and I loved that were both taking on roles traditionally performed by men. They were both incredibly memorable and the kind of character that you wanted to succeed.
I also liked the setting of this book. I spent a lot of time studying World War Two in University. A lot of the courses I took either dealt with or mentioned France and the Resistance there, but they did not talk about Portugal and what happened in that neutral territory. I enjoyed the juxtaposition between the two settings in this book, going from having nothing in Lyons where the ration is in place and the population is suffering and living in fear, to Lisbon where the ration is not in place and people are able to consume whatever they’d like. I also liked reading about the refugees that managed to escape occupied territories and ended up in Lisbon and the struggles they faced and how even though they were safe they weren’t really safe.
This book is full of moment that kept me on the edge of my seat, fearing for the safety of the characters. It also featured a lot of side characters that I really liked and that I was very concerned about throughout the book.
I liked that this book focused on the importance of the written word. Whether it was the importance of the clandestine newspapers in France sending messages to the Resistance or using newspapers to gather intelligence to send back to the United States. I also liked that Ava fought to preserve personal texts that the refugees in Portugal had because of how valuable they are in understanding what happened during World War Two.
This book takes place during World War Two, which means that a lot of atrocities take place. People are tortured, killed, and sent to concentration camps. People kill themselves because it is a better alternative than being apprehended and tortured by the Nazis. World War Two was full of horrific atrocities and this book does detail some of them.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The two main characters were brilliant and I loved the dual points of view. I will definitely be reading most historical fiction by Madeline Martin.
Rating: 4 Stars!