A poignant story of courage, misogyny, and misused power.
In 1947, Elinor White lives in a village in Kent in a grace-and-favor house, rewarded for her service to the crown, and keeps her own counsel. A farmworkers's cottage nearby is home to the Mackie family: Jim, Rose, and little Susie, who befriends the wary Elinor. Jim comes from a family of notorious London gangsters, and when they want him to return to the fold, they'll resort to violence to convince him. In interspersed chapters we learn about the background that Elinor keeps to herself: She was a spy during both world wars. Back in 1914, in Belgium, 10-year-old Elinor, youngest daughter of a Belgian father and English mother, tries to catch a boat to England along with her mother and sister, Cecily, before the German advance, but they're too late and return to their home, now under occupation. Some time later, a mysterious woman named Isabelle approaches their mother and recruits the two girls to spy on the Germans. It's easy for schoolgirls to appear innocuous as they count the number of trains that pass by their village. The sisters are trained in sabotage and self-defense. Elinor is a natural, but Cecily is not, and when Elinor kills two German soldiers trying to rape her sister, Isabelle smuggles them out to England—where Elinor faces another war, decades later, by working with the Special Operations Executive and returning to Belgium. Now she hopes her contacts from those days will save Jim from the clutches of the Mackie family. Her wartime experiences come back to haunt her, leaving her unable to trust anyone. In the end, it’s the gangsters who tell her the truth that will shatter her world and give her hope for the future.
A tense history-based thriller filled with anguish and suspense.