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August 11, 2017

Review: Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo

by MK French

RMS Lusitania coming into port, possibly in Ne...
RMS Lusitania coming into port, possibly in New York, 1907-13 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sydney and Brooke Sinclair are sailing on the Lusitania with Brooke's fiance, Edward Thorne-Tracy, despite warnings from the German Embassy about sailing into English territory during a war. Sydney is interested in the suffragette movement and contraception debates, which horrifies and embarrasses Brooke. At the same time in England, Isabel Nelson is working for Room 40, transcribing notes, codes and ciphers amidst personal drama. The horrors of war soon become all too evident for all of these people.

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Seven Days in May
April 2017; HarperCollins; ebook (368 pages)
historical fiction
At first, I thought the two separate stories would meet up at the very end. Instead, the dovetailing stories serve to ratchet up the tension, even though we know historically that the Lusitania was torpedoed and sank, killing most of its passengers.

We get to watch Sydney and Brooke's relationship completely unravel and then tentatively come back together, get to know the passengers in first and third class, and care to know about them and their struggles as individuals.

I didn't find the romance between Sydney and Edward to be very believable, even though they certainly do understand each other better and have more in common than Edward and Brooke do.

The passages in England following Isabel are interesting to see how the inner workings of Room 40 were, but other than a drive to decipher codes, we see little of Isabel or what she wants. When we finally do get to the sinking, it's vividly described and the aftermath is heartbreaking.

I liked the afterward, where Ms. Izzo reveals that Sydney's friend in third class is actually her own great-grandfather. Stories he had told her grandmother had piqued her interest, and there's even a helpful reading list for those interested in the Lusitania and the investigations that took place at that time. There are wonderful descriptions of the ship, the people, and how the differences in class affect everyone. No one is unscathed in this disaster, and there's sort of a hopeful note at the end of the book.

Buy Seven Days in May at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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