... a welcome addition to the wealth of literature capturing this doomed period and place ... highlights the dangers of underplaying the power of divisive societal forces ... The beauty of Thynne’s novel is in the details. The vivid snapshots of life in Europe leading up to, during and after the war surprise and satisfy the most devoted readers of this genre.
... straightforwardly told ... the wraparound story about New York photojournalist Juno Lambert and her contemporary relationship/career woes pales in comparison to the compelling stories of two English sisters who are embarking on their own relationships/careers just as World War II breaks out ... Settings of Berlin, Paris, and London, and the inclusion of historical figures such as Joseph Goebbels and Kim Philby, make this a solid book club selection. Thynne’s moving, often heartbreaking story of two English sisters on divergent paths is perfect for fans of Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, or any readers who can’t get enough of novels about women’s lives during Word War II.
The book begins awkwardly, and the many hairpin plot turns are a little dizzying. It also covers some familiar turf—author Thynne herself has written books with a similar setting—and flirts with melodrama. But this is a satisfying book, filled with vivid historical detail and surprisingly nuanced characters. It effortlessly integrates real-life figures, including the notorious double agent Kim Philby, who plays a small but pivotal role, and Martha Dodd, daughter of America’s ambassador to Germany, who befriends Irene ... An engrossing, suspenseful page-turner that defies expectations.
Thynne memorably portrays how the bond shared by two sisters can be fractured by politics and war ... Thynne’s elegant narrative immerses the reader in war-torn Europe while potently showing the division that forms between Cordelia and Irene. Fans of WWII fiction with strong female characters will be immersed in this magnetic novel.