A well-constructed espionage novel, based VERY loosely on the Cambridge Five spy ring of the mid 1900s, as Democracy and Communism were beginning their big face-off. Be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end of this historical novel to learn more about the true story. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
It’s 1940 and American twins Ruth and Iris MacAllister are on an extended holiday in Rome, amid rumors of a widening World War II (1939-45). When word comes that the U.S. government wants all Americans to evacuate Italy, Ruth makes immediate plans to depart. But Iris is reluctant. She’s met someone, the charismatic Sasha Digby, with mesmerizing blue eyes. She’d rather stay with him. This is the basic set up to the novel.
Moving back and forth through time (yes, another book that uses a non-linear writing style), the book follows the story of of these three main characters over the next 12 years. Traveling from America to England to the Soviet Union — there is plenty of drama. Spies, alcoholism, estrangement, infidelity, the KGB, affairs, and lots of family secrets. So that you aren’t completely sure, until the very end, who are the good guys and who are the bad ones.
This is fast-moving historical fiction that is primarily plot driven, where character development takes a bit of a back seat. But it’s a quick, compelling read and introduced me to a chapter in U.S. history I knew nothing about.
More about the bestselling author Beatriz Williams.
You may be interested in my reviews of other historical fiction by Beatriz Williams:
The Secret Life of Violet Grant