By Stefanie Davis
“After all, there was nothing Ava loved more than the scent of old books – except of course, the power of the written word.”
Words certainly have power in “The Librarian Spy” by Madeline Martin, a historical fiction novel set in France and Portugal during World War II. The story is based on real librarians who were sent to neutral Lisbon during World War II, to gather newspapers and other printed news to retrieve intel on their enemy.
Ava Harper works in the Rare Book Room at the Library of Congress and enjoys the simple and quiet nature of her job. However, Ava is soon asked by a government official to join the information gathering program called the Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications. Her new job will take her to Lisbon, where she will be responsible for gathering newspapers and other printed material to collect intel on the Germans. As Ava starts her new job, Héléne, who assumes the name Elaine, joins the resistance after her husband is arrested in occupied France. Ava and Elaine’s paths will cross via a coded message used to fight for the freedom of a Jewish mom and her son.
A story of sadness, grief, death, destruction and lost dreams, but also of hope, resilience and survival. Martin shows women as strong, creative and intelligent heroines throughout the story. There is something for everyone in this story: history, strong description of place, strong female characters and the power of the written word. If you enjoy this novel, you may also enjoy “Sisters of Night and Fog” by Erika Robuck, “Under Occupation” by Alan Furst and “Churchill’s Secret Messenger” by Alan Hlad.
“The War Girls” by V.S. Alexander
“The Switchboard Soldiers” by Jennifer Chiaverini
“The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II” by Buzz Bissinger
“Need to Know” by Nicholas Reynolds
“How You Grow Wings” by Rimma Onoseta
“Great or Nothing” by Joy McCullough
“I Must Betray You” by Ruta Sepetys
“The Silent Unseen” by Amanda McCrina
“Love in the Library” by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
“Miraculous” by Caroline Starr Rose
“Loyalty” by Avi
“Lines of Courage” by Jennifer A. Nielsen