Friday, January 5, 2018

What a Gal!

"Hey, how about me?"
--Susan Isaacs, Shining Through
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harper & Row
Pages: 402
Publication Date: July 1st, 1988
Source: Borrowed from Library
Find on: Goodreads 

My Thoughts

The Belle After reading and loving The Alice Network, there is a 'For Further Reading' section at the end. Of course, I looked up each book and Shining Through stuck out to me immediately. An American Jewish woman in love with her boss in 1940 finds herself traversing through a series of dramatic life events that eventually brings her to 1942 a spy. How does she get there? Well, you'll definitely have to read the book to find out.

From the first page I was pretty enchanted by Shining Through. The writing is simple, and I mean that in the most positive way, in that I immediately fell into the story. Linda Voss is a secretary, single, takes care of her alcoholic mother, lives in Queens, and hopelessly in love with her boss. Mild spoiler alert: Linda finds herself involved and 'very friendly' as they say with her boss and ends up pregnant. Then, because it's 1940, married to said boss. From there my lips are mum.

What I didn't expect from this book was such a fantastic foundation and build-up to Linda's eventual spywork. It read very much like a contemporary novel but set in 1940 if that makes sense. We go through a lot of ups and downs with Linda as we learn more about her life, her past, her feelings, and my favorite part, her whip-smart intelligence. Linda is so smart, knows it, and calls out anyone who tries to talk down to her. So obviously, I adored her. Her snarky remarks to her husband when he had the gall to define a word he used was hilarious. I loved that she was very forward-thinking in that she knew her worth and no matter what the masses believed about women, she knew she was better than the stereotype or 'desired' woman of the time.

This is an older novel, published in 1988, and I loved how progressive it was in the small details. When Linda becomes pregnant and her husband admonishes her for not "thinking of protection" she fires back at him, 'well why didn't you think of it?!' and I loved that! I felt like the novel really went there in regards to discussing women not being content in their proverbial 'roles.' It was so refreshing to read about a woman who gave zero fucks way back in 1940 and said what was on her mind.

Lots of stuff happens before Linda begins her spy training. Lots of drama both marital and workplace related. It was a little bit soap opera-y but I totally dug it. The final third of the book was so intense! The spy work in Berlin was taught with tension and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough while reading. I could really feel with Linda's desperation and fear and uncertainty. I could feel her panic when snooping around. It all felt so read. The very end brought tears to my eyes because it was so incredible!

Again, like with The Alice Network, these are the kinds of books we should be reading, especially young women, when looking for stories of inspiration. For stories of who to look up to. It is so incredibly inspiring and moving to read about women who spied or took chances or didn't take no for an answer. I also have to add there is a romantic element to the book. Not one I thought would happen but one I was hoping the whole time would happen and I was not disappointed! Amazing book!

Backstage Pass
If you love female spies, independent women, and intrigue...this book is for you.

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