The Real Deal

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I seem to read a lot of books pertaining to the two World Wars and I almost passed on this one. That would have been not only a mistake but a loss. Pam Jenoff has woven a story about the women who became a part of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and were dropped from England into France as radio operators between 1943 and 1944, just ahead of the allied invasion. That story, already told and put to bed, has been left to be discovered by Grace Healy in New York in 1946.

Running late for work and looking for a shortcut which might get her to her office sooner, Grace happens on a traffic accident and has to make a detour through Grand Central Station. She finds an abandoned suitcase, neatly packed containing among other things a pack of carefully wrapped photographs in a piece of lace inside an envelope. The photographs were of young women some dressed in military uniforms, others in smart street clothes. The photographs yield the secrets to be unfolded in this book.

The writing is engrossing and the movement between countries and years is seamless. I was totally involved in the story and regardless of the foregone conclusion dictated by the title I was foolishly hopeful. When the writing is that good that you not only become invested psychologically but emotionally you know the writer has more than achieved her goal.

Lost Girls is based on a real female operative, Vera Atkins, and the women who served under her leadership. Although the story has been fictionalized it is infuriating believable. When I finished this book I was reminded of an old TV commercial. Two older men climb a hill, take off their jackets and get into a slug fest. The import behind the fight is that they are world leaders and are going to do battle instead of sending millions of their citizens to kill one another. If only war was that easy to resolve.

Thanks you NetGalley and Harlequin for a copy.