Review of Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams
Williams's historical fiction mystery--based on real-life double agents in the Cambridge Spy Ring--is vividly set in Europe and Russia and was a rare five-star read for me.
In Beatriz Williams's historical fiction, Our Woman in Moscow, my book club's most recent read, it's 1948, and Iris Digby, her American diplomat husband Sasha, and their two children have disappeared overnight. Those who knew and worked with them are shocked. Were the Digbys abducted by Soviet agents...or did they make their way by choice behind the Iron Curtain with a suitcase of American secrets to trade?
In Williams's historical fiction mystery, which skips back and forth in time, four years later, Iris's twin sister Ruth finally receives a postcard from her estranged sister. Ruth is soon on her way to Russia to try to extricate Iris from danger--but the truth about Iris's marriage and past is more complicated and fraught than Ruth could have imagined.
I loved this. Every heart-stopping moment; every exquisite detail; the characters' growth, emotional distance, and unforeseen connections to each other; the trick of teasing out what was actually happening; the characterization; the machinations--all of it.
There was significant page time dedicated to Ruth's work managing a modeling agency and to the groundbreaking signing of a Black model at the time, as well as side stories such as elaborate mishaps on sailing trips or drinking binges, while the denouement at the end of the story gets a puzzlingly passing mention. But I loved Williams's immersive story so much, I was in for all of Our Woman in Moscow's elements: Russia, family, spies, crossing/double-crossing, finding common ground, bravery, and illogical and irresistible love.
Please please please let this story be made into a movie as soon as possible!
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Beatriz Williams is also the author of The Summer Wives, The Wicked City, A Hundred Summers, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, A Certain Age, and other books.