REVIEW: THE WINTER GARDEN BY JANE THYNNE

  • Simon & Schuster UK |
  • 432 pages |
  • ISBN 9781849839884 |
  • March 2014
List Price $29.99

– See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com.au/Winter-Garden/Jane-Thynne/9781849839884#sthash.I7ZtpZBs.dpuf

Clara Vine, fresh from her adventures in Black Roses, is now deeply entrenched in the secret services in pre-war Berlin. Trusted for her good work and quick thinking she is asked to go deeper undercover. This time she finds herself in a Nazi Bride School, where innocent young German women are schooled on the art of being a wife – and their future husbands are none other than the top ranking officials of the Nazi Party. With danger on every corner, it will take everything Clara has to survive this time. – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com.au/Winter-Garden/Jane-Thynne/9781849839884#sthash.iNSTzc3m.dpuf

THE WINTER GARDEN

Author: Jane Thynne
Simon & Schuster UK Fiction RRP $29.99
Review: Monique Mulligan

cvr9781849839884_9781849839884_lgSet in Berlin, 1937, The Winter Bride is a intriguing work about undercover work during WWII. It’s the second book featuring actress Clara Vine, an undercover British Intelligence agent by night. Having a German background, I was intrigued by the book’s blurb, and soon found myself reeled into a setting where glamour and danger intermingle, and stakes are high.

A young bride-to-be is found murdered at one of Hitler’s notorious Nazi Bride Schools. Anna Hansen, whose past was anything but virtuous, was one of many young women being schooled in the art of being an SS officer’s wife. However, it looks like her past has caught up with her. When Clara Vine hears of the murder, she is disturbed. Even more disturbing is the sense that the murder is being covered up, and that it’s linked to something far more sinister. After being given a case belonging to the dead woman, Clara’s own life comes under the spotlight and she has to tread more carefully than ever before, summoning the best of her acting skills to survive. The darkness of the murder and the secrecy of the political machinations are veiled by the glamorous social scene, but it’s a thin veil and some will stop at nothing to keep it in place.

Introduced in Black Roses, Clara’s an intriguing character, with an even more dangerous secret than being a spy. Her mother was German and her grandmother was Jewish, facts Clara has worked hard to conceal, despite her own father (a British politician) being a known Nazi sympathiser. As things escalate in Germany in relation to racial purity, concealing her ancestry becomes ever more urgent. She’s intelligent, quick-thinking and self-confident, but still has her vulnerabilities. Her protective nature comes to the fore in this book when her young charge, Erich, is threatened; at the same time, she struggles with the ease with which he accepts the propaganda of the regime and rejects her quiet misgivings. It’s a motherly side that emerges and surprises her, and adds a warm dimension to the single girl spy type.

I hadn’t read the previous novel featuring Clara Vine, but that didn’t affect my engagement with the story. Overall, I found The Winter Garden an intriguing, well-written historical read with nicely built tension and some fascinating insights to my grandparents’ era and lifestyle. I wish I could ask them what it was really like for them (my only surviving grandparent, nearing 90, avoids being drawn on the subject). The novel is filled with real-life characters, which adds to the authentic feel.

Available from good bookstores. My copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Bookish treat: Popcorn, for no other reason than I love popcorn.

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