Well-researched, thrilling, and tense!
In the early days of WWII, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Washington, D.C. mining heiress, Catherine Farnsworth Cahill Thornton, is in a loveless marriage to a British diplomat posted far out of sight to the embassy in Chile. She joins the US war effort supporting our Allies in Europe by successfully stealing, copying, and returning undetected the French naval codebooks from the embassy of the Nazi-puppet Vichy French government. Assisting her is French diplomat Henri Charles Leblanc, the press attaché at the embassy.
When the French delegation is ultimately ordered out of the country, Catherine and Henri are both recruited for Churchill’s newly-formed spy operation, the SOE, the British Special Operations Executive. Separated, they are trained in spy craft at various secret schools established in the English countryside and eventually sent to secret undercover positions in Nazi-occupied France.
Inserted into hidden networks supporting the French Resistance, Henri in Paris and Catherine on the Mediterranean coast, the Cote d’Azur, both work to disrupt Nazi war operations, provide the members of the resistance with weapons, information, and other supplies, and help to spirit out downed aviators and their fellow secret agents as needed. With D-Day approaching, all this is accomplished under the very noses of the Nazis and the dreaded SS.
Author Ciji Ware has crafted a well-researched and thrilling historical fiction novel of WWII. “Landing by Moonlight” has the kind of characters that grow on you and become people that you worry about chapter after chapter. And worry I did! This story focuses on a piece of WWII history not really familiar to me. I’ve read some about the undercover men and women working right under the noses of the Nazis but they were always secondary characters to the hero or heroine. Here, they are front and center.
This story immerses you in the constant danger they had to have been under at all times and made for a tense, and exhilarating, reading experience. The mantra, “Trust no one,” was really brought home for me. Not even knowing who among your old friends and acquaintances were working for the Nazis, maybe just to get food for their children, was terrifying.
Besides the constant threat of exposure, the characters are out in the field accomplishing the big tasks that helped turn the tide of war in favor of the Allies – tasks that someone really had to do – exhilarating when successful and exhilarating when it was over. Characters need to blow off a little steam and relieve the pent-up tension so there are sexual relationships and well-written scenes of a sexual nature.
Another aspect of this book I enjoyed were the various settings. The characters move around from location to location and each time this author made me see and feel the time and the place. My favorite had to be the setting in the south of France. I could almost feel the sun, see the old boats, and taste the ‘new’ red wines.
I recommend this book to historical fiction readers, especially those that want a pretty immersive tale. This one so very well done.
I received a copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.