Thursday, March 23, 2023

61. The Book Spy

The Book Spy. Alan Hlad. 2023. [January] 304 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: On the day librarians were recruited for the war, Maria Alves was microfilming historical newspapers in the Department of Microphotography of the New York Public Library. 

Premise/plot: The Book Spy is a historical fiction novel set during the Second World War. It has a light romance in the background. The focus primarily is on a librarian, Maria Alves, who is one of a handful of librarians--microfilm specialists--recruited for war work. They'll be going to neutral cities in Europe, acquiring Axis publications (newspapers, magazines, books, etc.), microfilming the works, and sending them to the Allies (UK and US) for examination. The cover story is preserving works for the Library of Congress. 

The Book Spy has two narrators. The second narrator is a bookseller (with a BIG secret) named Tiago Soares. The book is primarily set in Lisbon, Portugal. Maria and Tiago meet and become friendly. He helps her acquire the stuff (newspapers, magazines, books, etc.) she needs to do her job. She occasionally helps him with his undercover work. (He helps Jewish refugees.) 

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I don't always love dual narration. But in this case, it makes sense. They are both doing their part for the war effort. His story is just as important as hers. It was well-written. The plot is never dull. It isn't overly melodramatic. 

This was my second time reading Alan Hlad. (The first one I read was set during World War I.) I'm definitely enjoying getting to know his work.


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Jo said...

I'd like to read this one!!

Laura@Reading Books Again said...

I'd like to read it also. Any book about a librarian goes on the tbr list.

Marg said...

I have just requested this from my library!

Thanks for sharing this review with the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Barbara Harper said...

I just saw this mentioned at the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge site. It sounds really good! I worked in a library during college, so I like sometimes reading stories about librarians.