Book Review – August 2012


There are a ton of good books coming out in August. I am only covering five here, but check out your local bookstore to see what else is new—it is a prolific month!

Let’s start with non-fiction. Some of you may be familiar with Ben MacIntyre’s most recent book, Operation Mincemeat, in which he revealed a daring Allied spy scheme from 1943 that fooled the Germans well enough to ensure the success of the Allied invasion of Sicily. This month, we have the pleasure of his new book, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies, and what a story it is! Taking full advantage of the recent release of many MI5 documents, MacIntyre recreates the backgrounds, personalities and motivations of five very different spies who used their unique talents to misdirect the Nazis as to the location of the D-Day invasion in June 1944. All of these spies were Europeans who were sent to England by the Germans to spy for Germany; all of them became double agents for reasons of their own. If the author hadn’t included his historical sources, it would be tempting to think of this as fiction; it is that much fun to read, and that unbelievable as truth. Brilliant, suspenseful, tense—a must read.

A Daughter’s Tale is the memoir of Churchill’s youngest daughter and last surviving child, Mary Soames. She was born in 1922, so her adolescence and young adulthood was shadowed by the possibility, and then the reality, of war. The first third of this charming book recounts her idyllic childhood on an English estate filled with animals, famous guests and her larger than life father; the rest of the book primarily covers the war years and her experiences during World War 2 working on anti-aircraft batteries and serving as her father’s aide-de-camp on several of his wartime trips. This is not an even-handed portrait of Winston Churchill, but a daughter’s loving remembrance; any fan of Churchill would enjoy it.

What in God’s Name by Simon Rich is a humorous short novel about heaven. No, not angels with harps hanging out on fluffy clouds—Heaven, Inc, run by founder and CEO God, who is leaving the work to the angels while he improves his golf game. Craig and Eliza, the angels who run the Department of Miracles, enjoy their jobs and feel they are making a difference in human affairs, so when God decides it is time for Armageddon, they beg Him to reconsider. And He will, on one condition—that Craig and Eliza answer one prayer: they must cause two socially maladroit people to fall in love with each other before God’s deadline. Over and over, the two would-be lovebirds miss their cues—will they make their connection in time? Since this is a humorous novel, you know the answer, but getting there is a lot of fun!

The Lost Prince by Selden Edwards is a companion/sequel to The Little Book, which was 30 years in the writing and came out in 2008.  Wheeler Burden was the hero of The Little Book; he traveled back in time from 1988 to 1897 Vienna, where he met Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Adolf Hitler as a young boy, and his grandmother. In The Lost Prince, Eleanor “Weezie” Putnam, Wheeler’s grandmother, is the centerpiece of the action, and her story is just as compelling and fascinating as Wheeler’s. Both tales contain heroism, larger than life characters and courage. If you enjoy great story-telling, Selden Edwards is an author you should read.

Finally, Matthew Green has a new book out, Memoir of an Imaginary Friend. It is a magical story by a terrific author who will be at Market Block Books in Troy at the end of the month—don’t miss his appearance!       

Susan Taylor has been in the book business since 1982.


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