Saturday, August 14, 2021

 Dear Great Book Guru,  This weekend I’m getting together with friends and they have asked me to choose a book we can discuss after dinner and before dessert.  I know they all like historical fiction and the 1950’s with its Cold War spycraft is a time they find fascinating. Suggestion?  Seeking Spy Stories

Dear Seeking Spy Stories, I recently read THE VIXEN by Francine Prose and I think your friends will find this fictional take on the aftermath of the Ethel and Julius Rosenberg’s trial fascinating.  Simon Putnam is a recent Harvard graduate who is somewhat adrift as he searches for employment.  Through connections with a sinister uncle, he lands a job at a prestigious publishing house. His first assignment is to edit a fictionalized biography of the recently executed alleged spy Ethel Rosenberg. The writer has portrayed her as a sultry seductress who entrapped men in an effort to undermine the country’s nuclear defense force. Simon is appalled at the bad writing and the absurdity of the novel’s premise. He is loath to challenge his bosses, but he is hiding important information: his parents were friends of Ethel Rosenberg and he knows the real Ethel was far, far different then this portrayal of her.   He struggles between loyalty to family and truth… and his need for a job until he comes upon a startling solution.  This is a darkly comedic take on a very cruel time in American history.  Recommended!

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