Author: William Boyd
On the Shelves: Fiction> Crime/Mystery
It is Paris, 1939. Twenty-eight year old Eva Delectorskaya is at the funeral of her beloved younger brother. Standing among her family and friends she notices a stranger. Lucas Romer is a patrician looking Englishman with a secretive air and a persuasive manner. He also has a mysterious connection to Kolia, Eva’s murdered brother. Romer recruits Eva and soon she is traveling to Scotland to be trained as a spy and work for his underground network. After a successful covert operation in Belgium, she is sent to New York City, where she is involved in manipulating the press in order to shift American public sentiment toward getting involved in WWII.
Three decades on and Eva has buried her dangerous history. She is now Sally Gilmartin, a respectable English widow, living in a picturesque Cotswold village. No one, not even her daughter Ruth, knows her real identity. But once a spy, always a spy. Sally has far too many secrets, and she has no one to trust. Before it is too late, she must confront the demons of her past. This time though she can’t do it alone, she needs Ruth’s help. Restless is a thrilling espionage novel set during the Second World War and a haunting portrait of a female spy. Full of tension and drama, emotion and history, this is storytelling at its finest. (Goodreads 2014)
In 2012, the BBC aired a period war drama called “Restless”, which I watched and enjoyed- although I didn’t catch the final episode. Because I was working in a shop which sells books at the time, I soon realised this drama was based on a book (like most good films and tv shows), and immediately wanted to read it. Well I finally have and all I can say is that I never realised I had such a thirst for World War 2 fiction or spy novels. Restless follows two point of views. The first is the “present day” of 1976, following a woman named Ruth who visits her mother once a week and notices that her mother is acting oddly, pretending to need a wheelchair, altering her appearance, watching the woods behind her house through binoculars. Her mum, Sally, then hands her a mass of papers claiming that her name is actually Eva and she has a bit of an interesting background. The second perspective, follows the events of Eva’s war-time, which she spent working as an operative for the British Government. As the story unfolds, it is full of double and triple-bluffs with classic red herrings galore, so that by the end, you’ve little idea who to actually trust- just like Eva. I spent most of this book on edge holding my breath, waiting for her to get caught. I got completely caught up in it.
This was my first time reading Boyd, and all I can say is that I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t give it five stars because sometimes I found the daughter’s story boring and spent most of her chapters wishing the book just stayed with Ruth in the 1940s the whole time. This was such a good read though. I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys: World War 2 fiction, mystery and spy novels.