Friday, September 17, 2021

Review: A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton

A Most Clever Girl
by Stephanie Marie Thornton

Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  1963: Reeling from the death of her mother and President Kennedy's assassination, Catherine Gray shows up on Elizabeth Bentley's doorstep demanding answers to the shocking mystery just uncovered about her family. What she doesn't expect is for Bentley to ensnare her in her own story of becoming a controversial World War II spy and Cold War informer...

Recruited by the American Communist Party to spy on fascists at the outbreak of World War II, a young Bentley--code name Clever Girl--finds she has an unexpected gift for espionage. But after falling desperately in love with her handler, Jacob Golos, Elizabeth makes another unexpected discovery when she learns her lover is actually a Russian spy. Together, they will build the largest Soviet spy network in America and Elizabeth will become its uncrowned Red Spy Queen. However, once the war ends and the U.S. and U.S.S.R. become embroiled in the Cold War, it is Elizabeth who will dangerously clash with the NKVD, the brutal Soviet espionage agency.

As Catherine listens to Elizabeth's harrowing tale, she empathizes with her, that is, until she uncovers startling revelations that link the two women's lives in shocking ways. Faced with the idea that her entire existence is based on a lie, Catherine realizes there can be many sides to the truth. And only Elizabeth Bentley can tell her what that truth really is.

Kritters Thoughts:  Elizabeth Bentley is only one of the many names that she went by.  As she "fell" into the Communist party in America she ended up with many more names and oh so many secrets!  She became a part of the biggest Russian spy organization in America, but I won't tell her story because the way the book is presented - she tells it herself!

First, I love how this story is told.  Catherine Gray a woman enters Elizabeth's home and wants answer and wants them quick, so Elizabeth must tell her story to Catherine and share all the secrets of the past - but do spies always tell the truth!  While I don't typically like an unreliable narrator, it was fun to follow the twists and turns of the story and wonder if and when Elizabeth was telling the whole truth.  

I always love when stories are based in fact and love when a book makes me want to google and see where the author infused some fiction and this book did that.  While there were moments where the story slowed down for me and I wanted some action, in the end, I loved how Elizabeth told her story and where it all ended.  

One of the things I loved was the small special guest appearance of Ethel Rosenberg as I had just finished a whole non fiction book about her and her husband Julius, so to see them arrive in this book and the potential link between them and Elizabeth Bentley was a fun surprise.  I love it when the books I read work well with each other and compliment each other - it makes the reading life even more fun!

I was a fan of Stephanie Marie Thornton and while this book isn't my favorite of hers, I still appreciate her for her focus on women in history and spotlighting women who may not always get all the air time.  

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 112 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Berkley.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Back to Top