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January 30, 2023

New Books Featuring Brave Women in World War II

by Susan Roberts

Over the last several years, there have been a lot of books published about World War II in the women's fiction category.  What's interesting to me is that all of these books look at this tumultuous time from different angles and are able to make an interesting new way to look at the war.  What they all have in common is that they feature strong and resilient women who did their part to win the war.  Today I have reviews of three books that will be published in January and February 2023.  Yesterday's Tides looks at the war from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Code Name Sapphire is about a network that saved downed pilots in France and The Night Angles looks at the part that China played in rescuing Jewish people from the Nazis.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for honest reviews.  

Yesterday's Tides by Roseanna M. White

book cover of historical fiction novel Yesterday's Tides by Roseanna M. White
January 2023; Bethany House; 978-0764241338
audio, ebook, print (416 pages); historical fiction

In two world wars, intelligence and counterintelligence, prejudice, and self-sacrifice collide across two generations.

Yesterday's Tides is a dual timeline story with the predominant storyline during WWII and the background storyline in WWI.  Both take place in the Outer Banks on Ocracoke Island and the Ocracoke Inn in North Carolina.  Both are stories of love, family, and sacrifice.  

1914 - An Englishman and his cousin arrive at the Ocracoke Inn to spend the summer.  Remington and his cousin are looking for adventure and he has no plans to fall in love with the inn-keepers daughter, Louisa.
At first, she avoids him and continues to do her work at the inn but then they begin to spend more time together and fall in love despite the difference in their social standing.  His family plans that he'll take over the family estate but he decides to go against their wishes and marry the woman that he loves.  Needless to say, his family is shocked that he married a common Southern woman and Louisa doesn't fit into the family at all.  When World War I starts, he goes to England with plans for her to follow but with his mother working against their marriage, she ends up going home with just the memories of their time together.

1941 - Evie works at the family inn and life on the island is pretty much the same day after day until the German U-boats haunting their waters begin to wreak havoc.  A man washes up on shore.  He is badly burned and she takes him into her home to nurse him back to health and keeps his existence quiet from the rest of the people in town. When she finds out that he's really a secret agent tracking a German spy in the Outer Banks, she is intrigued and works with him to find the spy. The more time that Evie and Sterling spend together, the more they realize that they are keeping major secrets from each other.  Will they be able to go beyond their pasts and find a future together?

This well-written dual-timeline historical fiction novel looks at the effects of war on families, love and loss, and race relations over the years.   It was a well-written and well-researched Christian fiction novel and makes me want to read some of the earlier works of this author.

Buy Yesterday's Tides at Amazon

Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff

book cover of historical fiction novel Code Name Sapphire by Pam Jenoff
February 2023; Park Row; 978-0778334293
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); historical fiction

A woman must rescue her cousin's family from a train bound for Auschwitz in this riveting tale of bravery and resistance.

In 1942, Hannah narrowly escapes Nazi Germany.  She had been working with the resistance and she successfully hides when the Nazis burst into the location where she is staying with her fiancĂ©.  She manages to escape Germany and gets on a ship heading to the US.  The ship is turned away from US soil and is sent back to Germany except for people who have someone to vouch for them in Brussels.  She realizes that her cousin lives there so she is able to stay in Brussels instead of going back to Germany and certain death. Even though she and her cousin Lily were great friends as kids, their lives are now very different.  Lily and her husband and son live an extravagant life and Lily believes that the war will not affect their country or their life.  Hannah knows that the war will affect everyone and begins working with the resistance again.  She makes a deal with Michelene to work with the Sapphire Line for a short period of time helping downed English pilots to return to England and then Michelene promises to help her escape from Brussels.  When Hannah's cousin and family get arrested, caused by a mistake that she made,  she realizes that her work in the underground has affected their lives.  Will she continue to do her dangerous work or will she work to keep her family safe and protected?  This is a memorable and emotional novel about love, family, and the unshakable resilience of women in even the hardest of times. 

Pam Jenoff has long been a go-to author for historical World War II fiction.  Her books are always really researched and based on real people and events.  She once again brings her readers a book that features a strong woman during the worst of times.  Be sure to read her comments at the end of the book to find out about the events and people that the book was based on.

Buy Code Name Sapphire at Amazon

Night Angels by Weina Dai Randel

book cover of historical fiction novel Night Angels by Weina Dai Randel
February 2023; Lake Union; 978-1542038003
audio, ebook, print (379 pages); historical fiction

A profoundly moving novel based on the true story of a diplomat and his wife who risked their lives to help Viennese Jews escape the Nazis.

I've read many books about World War II but this is the first book that I've read about the bravery of a Chinese diplomat and his American wife who defied orders from the Chinese government and wrote visas that helped thousands of Jewish people get out of Austria to safety in China and other countries.

1938 - Dr. Ho Fengshan, consul general of China, is posted in Vienna with his American wife, Grace. Grace is very introverted and feels like an outsider.  At her husband's urging, she decides to hire a tutor to teach her German.  The day that she interviews Lola, they end up in trouble for sitting on a park bench - something that Jewish people were no longer allowed to do in occupied Austria.  Grace and Lola become friends despite Dr. Ho's request that Grace keeps her distance from Lola and her Jewish family.  Grace may be a quiet woman but when she made up her mind, nothing and no one will deter her from moving ahead.  When Lola's family becomes a part of the cruelty that is being shown to the Jewish people,  Grace is upset and Dr. Ho decides to give the family a visa to leave for Shanghai.  As the violence becomes part of everyday life in Vienna, Dr. Ho decided to write thousands of visas for people to escape from Austria - either to Shanghai or to other countries that still had open borders to accept the Jews.  Dr. Ho defied his direct supervisor and also had to deal with the cruelty of the German leaders in Austria.  Dr. Ho and his wife Grace were true humanitarians who worried about the plight of others more than their own safety.  This book is an emotional look at a brave man and woman who have been forgotten over the years and who risked their lives to help others.

Interesting Historical Fact Feng-Shan Ho, the Chinese Consul-General in Vienna, was given the title of Righteous Among the Nations for his humanitarian courage in issuing Chinese visas to Jews in Vienna in spite of orders from his superior to the contrary.

Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book to find out more about the real people who performed the courageous acts that take place in the novel.

Buy Night Angels at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  

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