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September 18, 2022

Mother Daughter Traitor Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

A youthful indiscretion costs Veronica her dream job and sees her black-balled in the New York publishing circle. With few options, she and her mother decide to move to California where her uncle has offered them his vacation bungalow in Santa Monica. Veronica gets a job as a typist and soon learns that her boss is an American Fascist with strong anti-Semitism and pro-Nazi Germany views. While Veronica is of German descent (her mother is German-American), she detests what Germany is doing. She won a prize in college for the newspaper story she wrote after going undercover at a pro-Nazi rally in New York City. Can she go undercover again to rout out the American fascist in Los Angeles?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of WWII historical fiction novel Mother Daughter Traitor Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal
September 2022; Bantam; 978-0593156957
audio, ebook, print (336 pages); historical fiction

Mother Daughter Traitor Spy
is loosely based on the real mother-daughter spy team of Grace and Sylvia Comfort who infiltrated a pro-Hitler fascist group in order to build a case against this dangerous terrorist group. 

in the 1930s and 1940s, Fascism was not seen as a threat, at least not in light of the rise of Communism. But a small group of regular citizens saw the danger and started collecting evidence through a spy network. Why wasn't Fascism taken as a serious threat? Because they hid behind a patriotic facade and played the Christianity card. It probably didn't hurt that the police force and the government (at all levels) were made up of white men who probably to some extent agreed with their pro-White pro-Christian stance. 

The past two weeks, I've read several WWII stories (both fiction and nonfiction) that were focused on Europe and I really started to wonder what was going on politically, socially, and culturally in the U.S. that kept us out of the war for so long and refused to accept more refugees. So I was really glad to run across Mother Daughter Traitor Spy.

Susan Elia MacNeal brings to life a part of history that I had never learned about in history or in any of my reading of WWII stories. Did you know that there was a bunker built for Hitler in Los Angeles? They were so convinced that Germany would win the war and that Hitler would stop over in L.A. before heading on to Japan. 

This book is crazy good. I loved every moment of it. The characters are great. They really pop off the page and you feel like you could go to California and meet them.

I did have to wonder about some of the commentary and descriptions of the fascist movement and political perspective. It was so similar to what we are hearing these days and I wondered if the author transferred some of what is going on today to her 1940s America or if history is repeating itself.

If you are planning on watching Ken Burns's documentary The U.S. and the Holocaust on PBS tonight (it's a 3 part 6 hour event airing Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights), I think Mother Daughter Traitor Spy would be a great companion read.  

It might be the best WWII-era story I've read this year. If you are looking for a story that sheds light on an aspect of history that you might not know a lot about. It is definitely a must-read for fans of WWII historical fiction. 

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. MacNeal researches meticulously — if she wrote about it happening in the 1940s, it happened. If it sounds like today's headlines, that's a warning, not an editorial error.