Saturday, February 06, 2021

Review: The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis


 
Title: The Princess Spy
Author: Larry Loftis
Published: February 2021, Atria Books
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages
Source: Publisher

Summary: 
The international bestselling author of the “exciting, suspenseful, inspirational” (Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author) Code Name: Lise weaves another exceptional and thrilling hidden history of an ordinary American girl who became one of the OSS’s most daring spies in World War II before marrying into European nobility. Perfect for fans of A Woman of No Importance and Code Girls.

When Aline Griffith was born in a quiet suburban New York hamlet, no one had any idea that she would go on to live “a life of glamour and danger that Ingrid Bergman only played at in Notorious” (Time). As the US enters the Second World War, the young college graduate is desperate to aid in the war effort, but no one is interested in a bright-eyed young woman whose only career experience is modeling clothes.

Aline’s life changes when, at a dinner party, she meets a man named Frank Ryan and reveals how desperately she wants to do her part for her country. Within a few weeks, he helps her join the Office of Strategic Services—forerunner of the CIA. With a code name and expert training under her belt, she is sent to Spain to be a coder, but is soon given the additional assignment of infiltrating the upper echelons of society, mingling with high-ranking officials, diplomats, and titled Europeans, any of whom could be an enemy agent. Against this glamorous backdrop of galas and dinner parties, she recruits sub-agents and engages in deep-cover espionage to counter Nazi tactics in Madrid.

Even after marrying the Count of Romanones, one of the wealthiest men in Spain, Aline secretly continues her covert activities, being given special assignments when abroad that would benefit from her impeccable pedigree and social connections.

Filled with twists, romance, and plenty of white-knuckled adventures fit for a James Bond film, The Princess Spy brings to vivid life the dazzling adventures of a remarkable American woman who risked everything to serve her country.



My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Larry Loftis and while it is nonfiction, it really does not read like it. As soon as I was asked about this one, I knew I wanted to read it and I'm so glad I did...I don't read a lot of nonfiction but definitely want to change that.

This book was so interesting and I found myself completely engaged all the way through. The way the author wrote it, it really does read more like a novel instead of a biography yet it is the true story of a female spy during WWII. I had never heard of Aline Griffith before picking up this book yet she was quite a fascinating woman, wanting to do her part in the war after her brothers left home to fight. A chance meeting at a dinner party leads to her joining the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) which was the precursor to the CIA. While she starts out as a code girl in Spain, she quickly moves on to attending high society events where she is able to mingle and spy with no one being the wiser. And even after she marries, she still continues her work, albeit at a slower pace than before.

What is most interesting is that spies did not write anything down and most of what they did is considered classified, so the fact that Larry Loftis was able to sift through what Aline did and give us this book is nothing short of amazing. And not only did he give us a clear picture of what Aline's life was like as a coder and spy, but we also get a taste of what life was like in Spain at the time - the culture and lifestyle really came to life. I feel like I learned quite a bit about bullfighting while reading this!

Aline's life as a spy really comes to life in this book. I myself cannot imagine being in her shoes but she really was quite adept at all the jobs she was handed and even when her life was in danger, it never seemed to throw her off course. 

I really enjoyed this book and will certainly be seeking out Larry Loftis's other books to add to my ever-growing reading pile!

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2 comments

  1. You would like her autobiography in 3 volumes, The Spy Wore Red, The Spy Went Dancing: My Further Adventures as an Undercover Agent and The Spy Wore Silk all by Aline, Countess of Romanones. I have read either the first or second volume. You can find them on Goodreads.

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  2. I loved The Spy Wore Red when I read it years ago and am so excited to pick this one up! It's on my To Buy list!

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