Hello readers! Welcome to my stop on the Harlequin Trade Publishing Summer 2022 Historical Fiction Blog Tour for The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin! Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing and the author for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this tour.
Title: The Librarian Spy
Author: Madeline Martin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: June 26th, 2022 (Hanover Square Press)
Synopsis: Ava thought her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress would mean a quiet, routine existence. But an unexpected offer from the US military has brought her to Lisbon with a new mission: posing as a librarian while working undercover as a spy gathering intelligence.
Meanwhile, in occupied France, Elaine has begun an apprenticeship at a printing press run by members of the Resistance. It’s a job usually reserved for men, but in the war, those rules have been forgotten. Yet she knows that the Nazis are searching for the press and its printer in order to silence them.
As the battle in Europe rages, Ava and Elaine find themselves connecting through coded messages and discovering hope in the face of war.
Thank you to the publisher, Harlequin Trade Publishing, Harper Collins Canada and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Ava, a librarian at the Library of Congress, is sent to Portugal to assist in a covert operation gathering intelligence to send back to the US. In occupied France, Helaine’s husband disappears and when she finds out he has been arrested for helping the Resistance, she decides to join them under the name Elaine and starts working at a printing press that prints underground newspapers. When Elaine seeks a way to help those fleeing France, she and Ava begin to connect through a series of coded messages in the newspapers, developing a friendship in the middle of the war.
The author has done a wonderful job of bringing Portugal and France in the 1940s to life. The narrative had a very authentic feel to it and it is evident how much research must have gone into this book. Setting aside, I love reading about codes and puzzles and there was plenty of that along with insight into how the Resistance printed their underground newspapers to spread news about the war and the truth of the Nazi occupation in France, which was something I hadn’t read much about previously.
Ava and Elaine were both strong central characters, and I enjoyed following their journeys as both of them stepped up to do what they could to help those fleeing persecution, contributing to the resistance effort in their own ways despite the danger it placed them in. Both had unique, detailed backstories, which made their arcs easy to follow even with the POV switching for each chapter.
I didn’t enjoy the pacing in the first half of the book much, the story dragged a lot and it felt like forever before something exciting finally happened. It took a long time for Ava and Elaine’s paths to cross but things did pick up in the latter half when they finally did and I enjoyed it much more from that point on. However, compared to other books I’ve read in this genre and era, this simply didn’t stand out for me in any way. I also found the title to be a bit misleading as neither of the women were actually spies.
Overall, this was an interesting read, and while I felt that it was not as gripping as some of the other novels I’ve read set in the same time period, I’m looking forward to seeing what this author’s next book will be! I would definitely recommend this book for all historical fiction fans, particularly those who enjoy WWII era novels!
The Librarian Spy releases July 26th, 2022.
About the Author
Madeline Martin is a New York Times and international bestselling author of historical fiction novels and historical romance. She lives in sunny Florida with her two daughters, two incredibly spoiled cats and a husband so wonderful he’s been dubbed Mr. Awesome. She is a die-hard history lover who will happily lose herself in research any day.
When she’s not writing, researching or ‘moming’, you can find her spending time with her family at Disney or sneaking a couple spoonfuls of Nutella while laughing over cat videos. She also loves travel, attributing her fascination with history to having spent most of her childhood as an Army brat in Germany.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!