I was interested in both of Martin's World War II storylines. The author's historical fiction romance-writing is evident here, in contrast to the tone of The Last Bookshop in London.
As World War II explodes, Ava is safe and cozy in her job at the Library of Congress. But a surprise job offer from the US military leads her to Lisbon--opening her eyes to wartime difficulties and instilling a passion in her to help European refugees.
Meanwhile, Elaine, who is French, is doing what she can to help those in need--including giving away her own papers and ration cards to a hungry Jewish woman. She futilely urges her husband to join the Resistance--but when he disappears, she seeks out the rebel leaders herself, offering her assistance passing messages and printing underground papers.
Ava and Elaine become linked through coded messages and a shared urgency to save the lives of those in danger.
I very much enjoyed the French Resistance storyline, with its details of safe houses, document drops, near misses, and quick thinking--and resistance members' fervor, often inspired by personal tragedies at the hands of the Nazis.
Ava's inexperience is essential to her storyline, and her limited perspective creates a mystery regarding who can be trusted and what's really going on, yet I couldn't help feeling impatient with her naiveté. For example, the reader may very early on see the truth behind what ends up being a shocking surprise to Ava late in the book regarding others' true wartime jobs.
Some of the story is summarized rather than shown, and I felt that I could see evidence of Martin's historical fiction romance style in certain dramatically written moments.
Ava's experience as a librarian is the reason she is recruited for work in Lisbon, but the work she does upon arrival (capturing periodicals on microfiche) is somewhat dry and isn't given significant page time in the book.
I listened to The Librarian Spy as an audiobook.
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You might also like the books on my Greedy Reading Lists Six Great Stories about Brave Women During World War II, Six Great Books about Brave Female Spies, and Six More Great Books about Brave Female Spies.
Madeline Martin is also the author of The Last Bookshop in London, a book I absolutely loved.
In addition, Martin is the author of the series Mercenary Maidens, Highlander, Wicked Earls' Club, Wedding a Wallflower, Borderland Ladies, The London School for Ladies, Enduring Legacy, and more.