Library Notes: New historical fiction lets you walk in shoes of WWII heroines

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 10, 2022

By Abby Hardison
Rowan Public Library

Several exciting historical fiction titles will be coming to the shelves near you and fans of the genre will have plenty to enjoy over the holiday season. The early 20th century has become a very popular topic for historical fiction in recent years, especially the World War II era. And while historical fiction is not considered fact, it relies heavily on the historical record and often includes dramatized versions of true events and real people, allowing for the reader to deeply immerse in and feel they are experiencing exciting historical events as they unfold.

On Jan. 17, bestselling author Marie Benedict will release “The Mitford Affair.” Benedict is known for her biographical novels about women who changed the face of history, including “Her Hidden Genius” which introduced many to pioneering scientist Rosalind Franklin, who helped discover the secrets of human DNA. The Mitford Affair tells the fascinating story of Nancy Mitford, one of six beautiful and glamorous daughters from an aristocratic family that fascinated a nation with their various pursuits and passions which ranged from fascism, Nazi-sympathizing, and communism. Benedict’s novel focuses on Nancy Mitford, who became a successful novelist and endeavored to keep the Third Reich out of Great Britain despite the efforts of her own family.

On Dec. 27, Michelle Gable, whose 2021 “The Bookseller’s Secret” was also about Nancy Mitford, releases her next book, “The Lipstick Bureau.” Based on an actual female spy who operated undercover in 1944 Rome, the heroine of The Lipstick Bureau and her team of forgers and artists create clever false propaganda designed to undermine the morale of the Axis forces. Highlighting the twisted and unexpected paths different people took to ensure victory for the Allies in World War II, author Gable doesn’t shy away from the real peril these heroes lived with on a daily basis.

Travel to Lisbon and Lyon of the 1940s in Madeline Martin’s “The Librarian Spy,” released in July 2022. This story of Ava, a librarian at the United States Library of Congress who is sent to Portugal to work undercover as a spy, will keep readers on the edge of their seats, especially when Ava discovers coded messages from French Resistance fighters using their hidden printing press. Portugal’s neutrality in the war made it a dynamic crossroads for refugees, diplomats and spies. Based on true events, the U.S. Navy created the Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications (IDC) which recruited librarians and sent them to neutral cities like Lisbon to network, gathering important intelligence in the form of international newspapers and underground publications in the effort to learn about what was occurring behind enemy lines.

Take a walk in the stylish vintage pumps of these bold women fighting on the side of the World War II Allies. Learn how they used every ounce of their grit, intelligence and courage and looked tyranny, genocide and cruelty in the face and defeated it. Let it remind us that no matter how turbulent the world of today feels, it has gone through periods much more volatile. Inside many of us is the courage and conviction to weather storms inconceivable to us in times of peace, as the women in these stories illustrate. Interested in picking up a one of all these titles? Call Rowan Public Library’s main number 980-432-8670 and place your hold today.

Abby Hardison is adult services supervisor and librarian at Rowan Public Library.

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