The Secret Guests

Holt. Jan. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781250133014. $27. F
When World War II began in 1939, Operation Pied Piper evacuated almost a million children from cities to the British countryside for safety. The Blitz began in 1940, and, despite the dangers, the British royal family refused to leave the country. While the bombs fell, the family steadfastly remained in place. But what if the young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, were evacuated in secret? In Black’s (Even the Dead) alternate history, the princesses, accompanied by a female intelligence agent and Irish police officer, are taken into the neutral Republic of Ireland to a remote, crumbling country estate owned by a distant relative and given new identities. However, little remains secret in the Irish countryside. As the young women settle into the rural routine, speculation mounts in the area about who is in their midst and just what their potential political value might be. Black’s lucid prose is the perfect foil for tangled politics, old hatreds, unsolved crimes, the threat to Irish neutrality, and the possibility of new alliances that seethe underneath.
VERDICT This elegant novel will satisfy all readers who appreciate a good story, well told.

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