The Words I Never Wrote

Ballantine. Jan. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9781524796594. $28. F
In this straightforwardly told, dual–time line novel, the wraparound story about New York photojournalist Juno Lambert and her contemporary relationship/career woes pales in comparison to the compelling stories of two English sisters who are embarking on their own relationships/careers just as World War II breaks out. When Irene, trapped in Berlin by marriage, begins secretly doing what she can to fight fascism but can’t tell her sister, hotheaded Cordelia writes Irene off as a traitor to England. Cordelia later becomes the maverick journalist whose manuscript Juno finds in an old typewriter case. This discovery spurs her to research the sisters’ lives, making it easy to draw parallels among the three women and their vastly different opportunities.
VERDICT Settings of Berlin, Paris, and London, and the inclusion of historical figures such as Joseph Goebbels and Kim Philby, make this a solid book club selection. “Clara Vine” series author Thynne’s moving, often heartbreaking story of two English sisters on divergent paths is perfect for fans of Martha Hall Kelly’s Lilac Girls and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, or any readers who can’t get enough of novels about women’s lives during Word War II.

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