I didn't actually like the Jacqueline Winspear books, although I wanted to, but I did like this one. I've started the second in this series and it's ..Show More »even better. In this first book, I think the writing was a bit 'loose', if that makes sense. I mean that sometimes people seemed to talk too long about a topic, but overall I liked it very much. It really is, as someone said, a cozy spy book, which I think is a new genre. There was a lot more plot than I expected, with some real surprises and the heroine is definitely the 'heroine', meaning a bit larger than life. It's many decades since I read Nancy Drew, but I remember admiring her as a young girl and this heroine is worth looking up to as well, as she solves problems that don't tend to happen in everyday life.
One always associates the "Keep Calm and Carry On" motto to the British and the 'stiff upper lip", but I had never really connected it to wartime, Winston Churchill, and that resolute attitude he helped the Brits maintain, before it was known that Hitler was not going to be able to steamroll over Britain as well. I find it a more inspiring quote now, plus we learned a variation: KPO for Keep Plodding On and another variation in Book 2. Good for some days at work! Also, helps one to remember every day to be grateful for NOT being in a war zone.
I found the first novel in this series dull and anachronistic, with over-the-top action near the end, but I hoped that, like much series fiction, char..Show More »acter and storyline might be stronger as the series (and author) developed.
Book 2 has some good historical background, but it's delivered more pedantically. Modern YA exchanges continue among the YA characters - other parts of the the novel are more period authentic -- except for some lapses in scene/dialogue such as when King George is teaching Queen E how to shoot a pistol on the back lawn of Buckingham Palace - with Hitler on the target-- and Churchill wanders up says something like, "Between you and me, we may have won the Battle of Britain, but we can't rule out invasion yet." Some of the more obvious history background (King Edward abdicated to marry Mrs Simpson!) is spelled out in way too much detail - so lovers of period fiction will be bored.
I am a large consumer of 19th and 20th C historical mysteries of all types, but I'll pass on future instalments of this one unless I read some solid reviews first.
It IS a good PG listen, however, and that is worth some praise! And if I were younger I might identify more with the main characters' concerns to get past the novel's weaknesses.
You'll either love or hate the narration: The narrator is obviously talented, but the production choices seem to me questionable. The style is much too theatrical (and vowels not Brit enough) for my ears -- too staged a performance. Wanda MacAdam/Doneda Peters from Book 1 was a better choice to my ears, but like Wanda, my ears are a little old for this novel.