Whispers of War
by Kelly, Julia

Three friends struggle between their loyalties to England and each other when one of them is threatened with internment by the British government for her German heritage during World War II. By the award-winning author of The Light Over London.

Kelly's latest outing (after The Light Over London, 2019) movingly depicts the importance of female friendship in wartime. In 1939, school friends Marie, Hazel, and Nora are living and working in London as World War II looms, each with her own set of concerns. German-born Marie is alarmed by increasingly vocal calls for the internment of Germans living in Britain; Hazel, who works as a matchmaker, is skilled at her profession but increasingly unhappy in her own marriage; and Nora, a secretary for the Home Office, is frustrated by her male superiors' refusal to allow her to play a more significant role in the war effort. These plotlines all converge as it soon becomes clear that Marie's freedom is in jeopardy-and she will need her friends to help her evade internment. Rich with historical detail and anchored by an utterly convincing friendship at its heart, this should find a wide audience among historical-fiction fans, book clubs, and readers who enjoy stories of the important roles women play in one another's lives. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

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. Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.


How quickly Marie had become used to her new routine. Breakfast for two in the morning&;porridge cooked on the hob with water since milk was already becoming scarce. On days when she wasn&;t working, she would tidy up and do any necessary food shopping before a small lunch. And, without fail, just around two o&;clock, she&;d listen for the brass flap of the letter box to squeak open and the second post to drop with a satisfying thunk onto the polished entryway floor.

Now she sat wrapped in a blanket in the corner of the big rose-patterned sofa that faced the mews she&;d come to think of as home. She&;d somehow managed to forget everything&;the war, her worries, her fears&;and relax into the pages of her book, a Rosamond Lehmann novel she&;d borrowed from the built-in shelf next to the fireplace. Forbidden at her aunt and uncle&;s flat, it seemed less daring here, as though she were the sort of woman who read about divorce and affairs every day.

Marie was so caught up that it was only when the letter box flap rattled back into place that she realized the post had arrived. Setting her book and blanket aside, she slipped her stockinged feet into a well-loved pair of slippers and rose.

Shivering, she pulled her light blue cardigan tighter as she stepped into the corridor and crouched to scoop up the scattered letters. She began flipping through them, looking for her name. She may technically have been a guest in this house, but she still received a letter or two a day.

Marie set aside two brown envelopes on the little sideboard. Three large square envelopes followed those. Then she saw her neatly typed name on a slim white envelope. She ripped it open.

Her hand began to tremble even as she stared down at the cheap paper, willing the sentences to rearrange themselves. Desperate for them to say something else. But there was no denying the typed words.

Her legs buckled under her, and she crumpled to the floor.

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