There were some really good things about this book. The mystery involving the murdered nurse was compelling, with some interesting twists. Perry is reThere were some really good things about this book. The mystery involving the murdered nurse was compelling, with some interesting twists. Perry is really good at making characters seem like real people and she described emotions so well. Several characters struggled through internal battles and what they learned was poignant and uplifting.
Other parts of the book were disappointing for me. Like reference to a secret treaty that might have been signed just before the war between Kaiser Wilhelm and King Edward. She must have meant King George, since King Edward died in 1910 and WWI started in 1914, but somehow King Edward made the final book. Then there were characters (British ones) expressing extreme concern about how harsh Wilson was going to be during peace negotiations. If Wilson was harsh, I’m not sure what that made Lloyd George and Clemenceau. Vindictive? Cruel?
Ultimately, the reason this book doesn’t rank higher is because the ending lacked the excitement I was hoping for. (view spoiler)[Several characters had to rush from the front lines near Ypres to London to expose the evil mastermind, the Peacemaker, before the ceasefire took place. They embarked on a long road trip. And reading about it felt like a long road trip. On one hand, Perry did an excellent job capturing the way a road trip feels. On the other hand, I was reading this book for fun, and I don’t find long, dull road trips much fun. And knowing how long it took from the ceasefire until the signing of the Versailles Treaty made me wonder what their hurry was. They were worried they had days, but they had months. Plus, their goal was to prevent the Peacemaker from influencing the settlement and creating a peace that would just result in another war. Well, our heroes prevented the Peacemaker from influencing the peace settlements . . . but WWII still happened, so I guess their efforts were all for naught. (hide spoiler)]
Now that I’m finished with the five-book series, I’m torn about whether or not I recommend it. Perry obviously did a lot of research and she got a lot right. But there were also a few errors in the history. Perry is a good writer and moments of the series were brilliant. But other moments, especially in this last book, just fell flat. I feel like the series had the potential to be so much better than it actually was, and that potential kept me reading, but the parts that weren’t as amazing as they should have been (and the research errors) disappointed me. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is my fifth novel. It takes place during a new time period for me (WWI instead of WWII), and it’s a new subgenre too. I’d classify my previous noThis is my fifth novel. It takes place during a new time period for me (WWI instead of WWII), and it’s a new subgenre too. I’d classify my previous novels as historical thrillers; this one is historical fiction. The plot revolves around several characters working against a German spy and sabotage ring during the Great War, and the book is about how those characters survive (or try to survive) the war.
So who are the characters?
First, there’s Julian Olivier, a French infantryman with an Alsatian mother. Since he speaks German, he’s asked to be a spy in Essen, Germany, keeping track of what’s going on at the Krupp Factory. He also meets the masterminds behind the Lothair League, a group determined to sabotage Allied supplies and ferret out Allied plans.
Then there’s Warren Flynn, a Canadian pilot with the Royal Flying Corps. He loves flying, but the destruction all around wears on him, and he’s not sure the Allies can win the war with conventional methods. He takes solace in the company of Claire Donovan, an American heiress transplanted from Charleston to Paris. As the war progresses, both Warren and Claire become involved in thwarting members of the league.
Evette Touny is a French peasant girl who escapes an abusive home life to work in a munitions factory. When she helps prevent a plot to blow up her factory, she’s hired by British Intelligence to work against the league full-time, under cover as Claire Donovan’s houseguest.
As the characters work against the league their paths cross and friendships form. I won’t tell you much more about the plot for fear of spoiling it. Even though I wouldn’t classify it as pure thriller, the novel is fast-paced. You can also expect clean romance, white-knuckle suspense, and oodles of history woven into the story.
This is a stand-alone novel. Readers of some of my other books might recognize Julian Olivier’s name though, because his relatives show up in Espionage, Sworn Enemy, and Deadly Alliance.
Where’s the cover?
I’ve been asked to keep the cover secret until January. That way, the publisher and I can have a cover reveal and build momentum as the book nears release in early February. You’re invited to the cover reveal on goodreads, just go here: https://www.goodreads.com/event/show/... I’ve seen the initial draft and it’s a great cover. Signing up for the cover reveal is easy and attending will only take about 30 seconds. I’d be so thrilled to have you along to celebrate.
Here are some early reviews:
A.L. Sowards has done it again! Another riveting story that puts you on the streets of France and Germany, giving you a first-hand, pulse-racing view of spies and World War I heroes that is sure to keep you reading and guessing long into the night. Rebecca Belliston, author of the Citizens of Logan Pond series
You can almost smell the gunpowder, mustard gas, and mud. This is a captivating novel that takes the reader on a roller coaster of emotions from despair and desperation to love and hope. A great read! KR Machado, former A-10 pilot, US Air Force
More interesting than your high school history class (and probably more informative), this look into the Great War aptly shows the conflict from both sides of the trenches and the cost for soldiers and civilians. M. Grant, MA in Military History...more
This is the 4th book in a series of 5. I’ve thought the previous novels were enjoyable on average—even if Perry paces her books slightly slower than IThis is the 4th book in a series of 5. I’ve thought the previous novels were enjoyable on average—even if Perry paces her books slightly slower than I prefer my fiction, at least she does her research. Imagine my disappointment to read about how the Americans joined the war in January 1917 (it was actually April)—a mistake repeated several times throughout the book. It made me wonder if there were other problems that I just wasn’t catching.
If you ignore the historical errors, it’s not a bad book. The main plot involves Joseph Reavley, a chaplain in the British Army, and the mystery surrounding the suspicious death of an incompetent officer during the battle for Passendaele. It turns out Major Northrup was shot by his own men, and almost everyone has a motive for killing him because his orders were consistently getting men needlessly killed. That part of the book was compelling, even if a few points (view spoiler)[(chasing a fugitive through the lines to the German side of the front, finding him, capturing him, and dragging him back through the lines to the French side of the front) (hide spoiler)] stretched plausibility. The underlying theme was loyalty of the men for each other versus the need to obey orders. The description of the trenches and the men felt true to history. So while Perry made a few research errors, she got more right than she got wrong.
The other subplot continues the search for the Peacemaker, a mastermind trying to prevent a British victory and the overarching antagonist for the series. The search in this book is headed by Joseph’s brother, Matthew, but it doesn’t involve much of the book. I was disappointed that during one of the two attempts on Matthew’s life, he left his would-be-assassin writhing on the ground, seriously injured, and then ran. I would have thought someone as smart at Secret Service agent Matthew would have, I don’t know, captured the injured guy and tried to find out who hired him. But I guess the mystery needs to continue through the end of the series . . . ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book wasn’t really on my to-read list, but my twin daughters were given an abridged audiobook version and wanted to listen to it. Knowing how manThis book wasn’t really on my to-read list, but my twin daughters were given an abridged audiobook version and wanted to listen to it. Knowing how many questions they ask about stories, I decided to read this before I let them listen to it.
I can see why the book is a classic. It has a nice message and the characters feel very real. So why only three stars? Honestly, the book is kind of boring in parts. There’s a reason the book has abridged versions, because the pacing is so slow. Maybe that was the style 150 years ago.
I’m knocking off a second star because I found the scenes where Alcott says what Meg should and shouldn’t be doing with the twins irritating. (Then I found out Alcott never had any children at all, let alone twins, which makes that passage HIGHLY IRRITATING.) Early in the book Alcott had the mother give lots of advice to her children, but it didn’t bother me because that’s what moms do. I’m sure Mrs. March’s words were really Alcott’s, but I was OK with that because it came through a character. Parts of the last half of the book, in contrast, included long moralizing coming directly from the narrator, and they just felt preachy.
Guess I’ll wait and see what two 5-year-olds think of the highly abridged audio version. I was kind of shocked that a 700 page book could be cut down to one cassette tape (yes, a tape—it’s old), but now I can kind of see it working....more
An enjoyable, thought-provoking read. It’s shorter than I thought it would be. The dystopian world is interesting, based on a look forward from 1950.An enjoyable, thought-provoking read. It’s shorter than I thought it would be. The dystopian world is interesting, based on a look forward from 1950. Some of the elements didn’t age very well—the lack of inflation, the use of bombers instead of ICBMs, no computers. But the most important element—the human tendency to surround ourselves with a constant flow of entertainment and never stop to really think—is still relevant. ...more