Restless: A Novel
by William Boyd
Genre: Contemporary Fiction | Mystery & Thrillers
When Ruth Gilmartin learns the true identity, and the WWII profession, of her aging mother, Sally Gilmartin, at the start of Boyd’s elegant ninth novel (after Any Human Heart), Ruth is understandably surprised. Sally, née Eva Delectorskaya, a Russian émigré living in Paris in 1939, was recruited as a spy by Lucas Romer, the head of a secretive propaganda group called British Security Coordination, to help get America into the war. This fascinating story is well told, but slightly undercut by Ruth’s less-than-dramatic life as a single mother teaching English at Oxford while pursuing a graduate degree in history. Ruth’s more pedestrian existence can’t really compete with her mother’s dramatic revelations. The contemporary narrative achieves a good deal more urgency when Ruth’s mother recruits her to hunt down the reclusive, elusive Romer. But the real story is Eva/Sally’s, a vividly drawn portrait of a minor figure in spydom caught up in the epic events leading up to WWII.
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