When Samantha’s beloved grandmother Marie passes away, her will sends Samantha from her home in Chicago to London, where she learns of Marie’s vivid life during World War II.
Born in Munich, Marie met her two best friends, Nora and Hazel, at a British boarding school. Inseparable, the three women stay together long after graduation. As the secretary to the German Department at Royal Imperial University in London, Marie finds herself drawn to Neil Havitt, an ambitious graduate student eager to make his mark in politics via the Communist Party of Great Britain. Married but distraught over multiple miscarriages, Hazel has found meaningful work as a matchmaker. Nora works in the Air Raid Precautions Department of the Home Office , where she is privy to national secrets. And once Hitler invades Poland, those secrets include plans to intern German nationals. As events in Europe escalate, Kelly (The Light Over London, 2019) deftly threads harbingers of domestic danger into the friends’ lives, first via radio and newspaper, then through suspicions of their associates, and finally converging on Marie. Hazel and Nora risk everything to keep Marie out of the internment camps, but Kelly has strewn villains in every corner: Once Neil drops Marie—how can he have a German girlfriend in this time of war?—can she trust that her visits to Communist Party meetings will remain secret? What of her dissolute cousin Henrik, who is eager to throw Marie out of the house? Will he turn her in to the authorities out of sheer spite? Nora and Hazel are not entirely safe either, especially when it turns out that Hazel set up a wealthy British widow with a German professor—a German professor who is now missing and presumed a Nazi sympathizer. Throughout, Kelly skillfully balances narratives from all three friends’ perspectives, building parallels to Samantha’s own budding romance with Nora’s grandson.
Women's friendship overcomes the villainy of war in this engaging historical fiction.