The Secret Stealers by Jane Healey is about Anna Cavanaugh, a 25-year-old widow, who is recruited by her father’s friend, Major General William Donovan, to work as his assistant at the Office of Strategic Services (The OSS) in Washington, DC during World War II. She quickly realizes she wants to do more than secretarial work and convinces Donovan to let her be a part of a break-in at the Vichy Embassy in D.C. She then trains to be a spy and works in occupied France for several years.
What I liked about this novel:
- It is well researched;
- It shows the human side of the young spies sent overseas during World War II;
- Women had to work harder to prove their worth;
- Anna is brave, intelligent, and believes in her cause; and
- There is a strong sense of comradery among the Allies and the French Resistance workers.
What I didn’t like about this novel:
- There is too much romance. Anna, a young widow, has two men in love with her; This makes the novel feel like a Hallmark movie at times;
- Anna and her friends at the OSS talk about work in restaurants where they could be overheard;
- Anna’s best friend from when she studied in France before the war, just happens to be French resistance spy. Anna is conveniently assigned to work with this friend, as well as Anna’s former French love interest;
- Anna’s self-doubt, while realistic, was overemphasized;
- The German Nazi bad guy is too stereotypical and of course, he underestimates Anna because she is a woman; and
- The audiobook narrator’s voice is just a tad bit too whiny for my taste. I wish I had just read the novel instead of listening to it. I need to pay more attention to who the audio narrators are since it really makes a difference.
What I didn’t realize until I heard the author’s notes: The character Julia McWilliams is the real-life chef, Julia Child, who works for the OSS first in Washington, DC, and then in Ceylon. She meets her husband Paul Child when they both work for the Asian Office of the OSS.
3.5-Stars. This book was published on April 1, 2021. The hardback is 433 pages and the Brilliance Audio is 14 hours and 25 minutes.