An Anglo-German actress leads a dangerous life in prewar Germany.
Paris, 1938. Clara Vine, who’s just finished shooting a film, takes a day to enjoy herself away from the constant tension of life in Nazi Germany. The daughter of a pro-Nazi English aristocrat and a German mother, Clara has chosen to develop her acting career in Germany. But everything she does is a lie, since she’s a spy for the British who carries false papers that have erased her Jewish grandmother from her pedigree. Now she continues to play a dangerous game in Germany, where the Jews are more openly persecuted than ever and every citizen lives in fear. A German diplomat Clara meets in Paris, who at first seems a potential lover, approaches her for help in a plot to kill Hitler. Clara’s been asked by her handlers to become friends with Hitler’s girlfriend, movie fan Eva Braun, in order to steal her diary, which may provide insights into Hitler’s plans. She uses an interview for a film role in Munich as an excuse to meet Eva, who’s so delighted that she makes a special perfume for Clara, but Clara has no luck finding the diary. As the drums of war beat louder, she grows ever more fearful. Continuing her search for the diary, she knows that she’s being followed but not by which of the many organizations competing for Hitler’s favor.
The first in a planned trilogy, which leaves many loose ends Thynne will doubtless explore in the sequel, paints a horrifying portrait of the madness that was Hitler’s Germany from the viewpoint of women, who are mostly relegated to the kitchen and the bedroom.