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 haven't read the preceding books in this series but this one is just awful! The author has chosen a subject - racism in America - which she lacks k..Show More »nowledge and sensitivity. Her depiction of blacks during the World War II era is appalling. In a purely literary sense,I really tried to get past it because the story plot began in such an interesting way. But the author made me feel really uncomfortable. It takes a lot to upset me when it comes to literary license. I fought to have Audible allow reviewers to use the word "nigger" instead of the really outrageous "n-word" if the term is in the book reviewed and does not insult or degrade. I embrace realism in literature. One cannot read a fictional account about slavery and believe that we were referred to as "African Americans". There are instances in which being "politically correct" makes no sense. However, this author stepped over the line in this book, showing a marked level of insensitivity to blacks, Jews, and other minorities and nationalities. I can't speak for the others in any degree of depth, but I can tell you how this book affected ME as a black American.
Much of the book takes place in Washington DC, where I was born and raised. Her depiction of black Washingtonians was way off. She had the black employees in the White House acting like slaves. I was stunned by the way Winston Churchill talked to the main White House steward. This was 1941 but the white people act like it was 1861!!!
Just in general, the author tried to pack in every famous living person of that time, from the Kennedys to Josephine Baker to Ernest Hemingway. The storyline got bogged down in name-dropping after a while. And while I normally enjoy this narrator, she is not suited to acting out such distinctive voices as FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt and Churchill. It was a really painful listen.
I am descended from free people of color who have lived and worked in Washington since BEFORE the Civil War. Susan MacNeal's story enraged and insulted me and my ancestors, some of whom helped to build the White House and Capitol Building. This book would have been better if the author hadn't tried to include every ounce of our struggle and our history into a storyline that we didn't even need to be included. It is a walk that she has never taken. She took our history too lightly, making us look like minstrel caricatures. MacNeal should be ashamed to release such a racist and insulting book in 2015.