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Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook

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A striking historical novel about an ordinary young British woman sent to uncover a network of spies and war criminals in post-war Germany that will appeal to fans of The Huntress and Transcription. World War II has just ended, and Britain has established the Control Commission for Germany, which oversees their zone of occupation. The Control Commission hires British civili A striking historical novel about an ordinary young British woman sent to uncover a network of spies and war criminals in post-war Germany that will appeal to fans of The Huntress and Transcription. World War II has just ended, and Britain has established the Control Commission for Germany, which oversees their zone of occupation. The Control Commission hires British civilians to work in Germany, rebuild the shattered nation and prosecute war crimes. Somewhat aimless, bored with her job as a provincial schoolteacher, and unwilling to live with her stuffy genteel parents any longer, twentysomething Edith Graham applies for a job with the Commission—but is instead recruited by the OSS. To them, Edith is perfect spy material…single, ordinary-looking, with a college degree in German. And there’s another thing—the OSS knows that Edith’s brother went to Oxford with one of their most hunted war criminals, Count Kurt von Stabenow, who Edith remembers all too well from before the war. Intrigued by the challenge, Edith heads to Germany armed with a convincing cover story: she’s an unassuming schoolteacher sent to help resurrect German primary schools. To send information back to her OSS handlers in London, Edith has crafted the perfect alter ego, cookbook author Stella Snelling, who writes a popular magazine cookery column that embeds crucial intelligence within the recipes she collects. But occupied Germany is awash with other spies, collaborators, and opportunists, and as she’s pulled into their world, Edith soon discovers that no one is what they seem to be. The closer she gets to uncovering von Stabenow’s whereabouts—and the network of German civilians who still support him—the greater the danger.  With a unique, compelling premise, Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook is a beautifully crafted and gripping novel about daring, betrayal, and female friendship.


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A striking historical novel about an ordinary young British woman sent to uncover a network of spies and war criminals in post-war Germany that will appeal to fans of The Huntress and Transcription. World War II has just ended, and Britain has established the Control Commission for Germany, which oversees their zone of occupation. The Control Commission hires British civili A striking historical novel about an ordinary young British woman sent to uncover a network of spies and war criminals in post-war Germany that will appeal to fans of The Huntress and Transcription. World War II has just ended, and Britain has established the Control Commission for Germany, which oversees their zone of occupation. The Control Commission hires British civilians to work in Germany, rebuild the shattered nation and prosecute war crimes. Somewhat aimless, bored with her job as a provincial schoolteacher, and unwilling to live with her stuffy genteel parents any longer, twentysomething Edith Graham applies for a job with the Commission—but is instead recruited by the OSS. To them, Edith is perfect spy material…single, ordinary-looking, with a college degree in German. And there’s another thing—the OSS knows that Edith’s brother went to Oxford with one of their most hunted war criminals, Count Kurt von Stabenow, who Edith remembers all too well from before the war. Intrigued by the challenge, Edith heads to Germany armed with a convincing cover story: she’s an unassuming schoolteacher sent to help resurrect German primary schools. To send information back to her OSS handlers in London, Edith has crafted the perfect alter ego, cookbook author Stella Snelling, who writes a popular magazine cookery column that embeds crucial intelligence within the recipes she collects. But occupied Germany is awash with other spies, collaborators, and opportunists, and as she’s pulled into their world, Edith soon discovers that no one is what they seem to be. The closer she gets to uncovering von Stabenow’s whereabouts—and the network of German civilians who still support him—the greater the danger.  With a unique, compelling premise, Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook is a beautifully crafted and gripping novel about daring, betrayal, and female friendship.

30 review for Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    4+ Teacher and fluent German speaker Edith Graham has an affair in the 1930’s with Kurt von Stavenhow about whose Nazi views she is unaware of. In 1945 she is co-opted by the Control Commission, Education Branch and is sent to Lubeck. Her secret mission is to track down von Stavenhow. To keep friends and war spy Dori Stansfield and Adeline Croft, an American photographer and journalist apprised of what’s going they devise a code using The Radiation Cookery Book as their source. Edith sends these 4+ Teacher and fluent German speaker Edith Graham has an affair in the 1930’s with Kurt von Stavenhow about whose Nazi views she is unaware of. In 1945 she is co-opted by the Control Commission, Education Branch and is sent to Lubeck. Her secret mission is to track down von Stavenhow. To keep friends and war spy Dori Stansfield and Adeline Croft, an American photographer and journalist apprised of what’s going they devise a code using The Radiation Cookery Book as their source. Edith sends these disguised recipes and each chapter starts with ‘Stella Snellings’ recipes, Edith’s nom de plume. There is so much to admire in this insightful book, some of it is very unsettling, factually very accurate and it makes you feel a whole gamut of emotions. It’s excellent on historical context depicting the post war situation of Nazi hunting for scientists and doctors who could be useful to the allies with the frigid atmosphere developing with the USSR making it clear the focus of enmity has changed. These strong, brave and immensely capable women want something entirely different which is to bring these men including von Stavenhow to justice. Their characters are so well portrayed and their bravery admirable. The book vividly depicts the destructive war damage in Germany, the impact on children surviving a harsh winter in cellars and the overwhelming task of educating the huge numbers of displaced. Like many adults they have witnessed things they can’t unsee and have to endure malnutrition, lack of suitable clothing including shoes. Edith’s frustration at understanding she can do little to help is well depicted. You also get a good sense of people hiding behind masks of willing compliance, adopting a blandness or blankness of expression. However, behind this emotionless curtain it’s clear to perceive that some Nazi views especially towards Jews have not changed. The novel depicts some shocking stories which sadly we are all too aware of. Edith encounters dangers and threats all about her, there’s a ton of suspicion everywhere, she’s duped, double crossed and betrayed and this builds really well. The plot is busy, taking us from Germany to Austria, to the Baltic states and also includes the fight for the Jewish homeland vis the excellent character of Harry Hirsch. The ending is tense, shock, and heartbreaking but ultimately there’s retribution. Overall, this is a well written and compelling historical novel and I love the focus on strong and capable women. It’s fascinating, heartbreaking, horrifying and sad in equal measure. It’s a powerful story which I like very much and it’s one I’ll remember despite it probably being a bit overlong. I enjoyed reading how the novel is conceived via the Radiation Cookbook. I recommend this to fans of the genre. With thanks to NetGalley and especially to HarperCollins, Harper Fiction for the widget in return for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Set in post-war Germany, this atmospheric story vividly explores the time period and involves a rush, time is precious, to uncover a network of spies and war criminals. And this involves a young British woman who fits a profile of being single, ordinary looking and with a college degree in German – a perfect material for a spy. London, 1945. Edith is a provincial schoolteacher and craves something more. Her friend Leo encourages her to apply for a position, which would involve her knowledge of Ge Set in post-war Germany, this atmospheric story vividly explores the time period and involves a rush, time is precious, to uncover a network of spies and war criminals. And this involves a young British woman who fits a profile of being single, ordinary looking and with a college degree in German – a perfect material for a spy. London, 1945. Edith is a provincial schoolteacher and craves something more. Her friend Leo encourages her to apply for a position, which would involve her knowledge of German language to set up schools in Germany and have them running. But as it turns out this is just one part. She also gets recruited to be an agent, hunting down Nazis to bring them to justice. With her friend Dori, they need to come up with a code to send intercepted messages once she is in Germany. Dori is a spy. How did this happen? She is Hungarian who lived in Poland and fell in love with a British Flying Officer. When Germans robbed her of her adopted homeland, she wanted revenge. Edith has been also making extra money from her recipes, writing cookery tips as Stella Shelling. “Edith enjoyed cooking and liked to think of ways to make the ration go further.” One day, Edith comes across a used copy of Radiation Cookery Book, a one that Dori has as well. She buys it as a light bulb goes on. They will use a code based on recipes, using words from recipes and coding them as they practiced. Everyone one is obsessed with cooking and how to stretch rations. They shouldn’t raise any suspicion. Through her friend Leo, Edith met Count Kurt von Stavenow. For some time, he was the love of her life. However, under the cover of his interest in history, he fooled them both. As it has just turned out, he was also a Nazi. Equipped with this knowledge, Edith is off to Germany. Within the first few pages, these incredible women reveal how interesting they are. They know what they want and they go after it. It’s not just words, it’s action that counts. They are dependable. If they sign up for something, they feel the obligation to finish the job. Not afraid to do what is right. This atmospheric story brings a vivid portrayal of a post-war country: shifting borders, misplaced people, devastation – more rubble than standing buildings in some places, challenge to find a living space, shortages of all kinds – lack of food, medicine, heating, warm clothes leading to malnutrition, TB and pneumonia. As the search for war criminals progresses, the story also reveals scientific research done by the Nazi. You can also feel the rush against the time to catch the Nazis and disappearing documents. You can sense hopelessness. As it turns out setting up a school might be easy, but running it is a challenge. The kids need shoes in order to walk to school during the winter time. They also need food in order to be able to focus on learning and not hungry bellies. This captivating story is beautifully detailed, providing a sense of place and history, with characters that we care deeply about and do not want to part from. Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4 Post WWII Spying Stars I’ve never really thought about how spying and intrigue didn’t end when WWII ended. There were competing efforts (by different countries) in Germany and around the world to find former German military leaders, sometimes to punish them, other times to try and glean knowledge from them. This book centers around Edith, a British woman who is ready for a new life after the war. She’s single, speaks German, and is a teacher, so it makes sense for the British Control Commission 4 Post WWII Spying Stars I’ve never really thought about how spying and intrigue didn’t end when WWII ended. There were competing efforts (by different countries) in Germany and around the world to find former German military leaders, sometimes to punish them, other times to try and glean knowledge from them. This book centers around Edith, a British woman who is ready for a new life after the war. She’s single, speaks German, and is a teacher, so it makes sense for the British Control Commission to send her to Germany to help rebuild schools for school children. This also makes a really good spy cover story and that’s just what happened to Edith. The British reached out to her, as did the Americans, and they all wanted help finding Edith’s former lover, Count Kurt von Stavenow. Even Edith’s cousin wants Edith’s help to track Kurt down. Edith also cooks up (see what I did there?) a way to code her letters with details that will pass by the mail censors – she sends recipes with secret clues. The book is filled with regional recipes. Some sounded delicious and others not so much since many food supplies were in short supply and substitutions had to be made. At any rate, this was an excellent way to hide information and I wondered if anyone really did this during the war. Edith has some great friends that help and hinder her efforts. One of her friends is trying to find out what happened to the women who were sent to France and Germany as spies and never heard from again. This reminded me of the book “Lost Girls of Paris” and if you liked that one, I think you would enjoy this one too. It was a bit complicated to keep track of who was reaching out to Edith and what stories she was feeding to each of them. I enjoyed reading this one, although I did find it a bit long at 512 pages. If you want a book to curl up with on a lazy summer afternoon, this might just fit the bill. This one was full of strong female characters and the part they played in the war. In addition to “Lost Girls of Paris” I would recommend this one if you like books like “The Huntress.” This was my first read by this author and she has a robust vocabulary, I looked up countless words! Thank you to Celia Rees and Harper Collins/William Morrow for a complimentary copy of this one to read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway for an honest review. It's post WWII and the British Control Commission for Germany is recruiting British civilians to help rebuild the shattered remains and hunt down Nazi war criminals. Edith Graham is bored with her teaching position and tired of caring for her elderly mother. Urged by her cousin Leo and looking for a bit of adventure, Edith applies for a position with the Control Commission. Edith is unassuming, unmarried, speaks fluent German and I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway for an honest review. It's post WWII and the British Control Commission for Germany is recruiting British civilians to help rebuild the shattered remains and hunt down Nazi war criminals. Edith Graham is bored with her teaching position and tired of caring for her elderly mother. Urged by her cousin Leo and looking for a bit of adventure, Edith applies for a position with the Control Commission. Edith is unassuming, unmarried, speaks fluent German and can easily integrate herself to her surroundings. Thereby she is seen as an excellent candidate to do some spying, along with overseeing the set up of schools for the many displaced children. Her prior relationship with Count Kurt von Stavenow is an added bonus as he is being hunted by both the British and the Americans. Prior to her departure, she and her British contact set up a clever code system using recipes and menus. Who would assume messages were contained in an innocent sharing of the local foods and establishments. As Edith delves deeper into the search for Count von Stavenow, it becomes apparent that she is not the only one looking for him, putting her life in grave danger. Edith is no longer sure who can and cannot be trusted. Although the book started out a bit slow, I soon became immersed in this intriguing spy novel, and was surprised by the ending.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joan Happel

    Set in Germany just after World War II, this novel tells the story of intrepid Edith Graham. After sitting out the war in England as a provincial schoolteacher and caring for her overbearing mother, Edith decides to take a job re-establishing schools in Germany for the British Control Commission of Germany. Her cousin Leo, a member of the British secret service, recruits her to find Count Kurt von Stavenow, a Nazi scientist wanted for war crimes. Prior to the war, Leo introduced Edith to Kurt an Set in Germany just after World War II, this novel tells the story of intrepid Edith Graham. After sitting out the war in England as a provincial schoolteacher and caring for her overbearing mother, Edith decides to take a job re-establishing schools in Germany for the British Control Commission of Germany. Her cousin Leo, a member of the British secret service, recruits her to find Count Kurt von Stavenow, a Nazi scientist wanted for war crimes. Prior to the war, Leo introduced Edith to Kurt and the two had an affair. To complicate matters further, Edith’s friend Dori is concerned that the both the Allies and the Soviets want ex-Nazi scientists in order to further their scientific experiments back home. Edith and Dori devise a plan to communicate information to each other using a secret code based on a cookery book. Unsure of her current feelings for her former lover, Edith sets out to try and ascertain Kurt’s whereabouts and bring him to justice. She soon finds out that no one is who they seem to be and not everyone can be trusted, even her cousin Leo. This is an atmospheric story, giving the reader an incredible sense of time and place. The complete destruction of Germany; with cities laid to waste, people starving and fighting for whatever scraps of food they can find, and the desperate need by some to hold onto the ideals of Nazism that the were taught and fought for is vividly portrayed. While some aspects of the story lacks credulity, it is still a highly readable novel. Fast-paced and intriguing, with a likable heroine and interesting supporting characters, this will appeal to fans of historical fiction, women’s fiction and those that enjoy a female led espionage novel. Thank you to Harper Collins Publishers and NetGalley for the e-ARC

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook opens as World War 2 has ended. Edith Graham, a 30-something English woman, is eager to leave her home so she applies to Britain’s Control Commission for Germany, an entity that sends British citizens to Germany to help rebuild the country and locate and prosecute German war criminals. Because she has a college degree in German, she is recruited by the OSS to spy and send back intelligence through recipes she gathers as she travels. However, when Edith arrives in Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook opens as World War 2 has ended. Edith Graham, a 30-something English woman, is eager to leave her home so she applies to Britain’s Control Commission for Germany, an entity that sends British citizens to Germany to help rebuild the country and locate and prosecute German war criminals. Because she has a college degree in German, she is recruited by the OSS to spy and send back intelligence through recipes she gathers as she travels. However, when Edith arrives in Germany, she realizes that everyone has his or her own agenda and no one is what they seem. Rees brings post-war Germany to life – the devastation to the cities and towns, the rush to find war criminals (sometimes to prosecute, sometimes to send to the U.S. or Britain to use their knowledge), the lack of food and shelter, the underground Nazi movement that hoped to re-emerge, and the slow uncovering of the vicious Nazi experiments on humans. Beautifully written and masterfully detailed, this atmospheric book made me feel like I was in post-war Germany and taught me a lot, both fascinating and horrific, about life there following the war. It is one of the best books that I have read this year. Listen to my podcast at https://www.thoughtsfromapage.com for fun author interviews, and for more book reviews, check out my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thoughtsfro....

  7. 4 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    3.5 stars rounded up to 4 WWII has just ended, as Britain has established the Control Commission for Germany, which oversees their zone of occupation. the Control Commission hires British civilians to work in Germany, rebuild the shattered nation and prosecute war crimes. Bored with her job as a provincial school teacher and unwilling to live with her parents any longer, twentysomething Edith Graham applies for the job with the commission- but is instead recruited by the OSS. To them, Edith is pe 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 WWII has just ended, as Britain has established the Control Commission for Germany, which oversees their zone of occupation. the Control Commission hires British civilians to work in Germany, rebuild the shattered nation and prosecute war crimes. Bored with her job as a provincial school teacher and unwilling to live with her parents any longer, twentysomething Edith Graham applies for the job with the commission- but is instead recruited by the OSS. To them, Edith is perfect spy material, single, ordinary looking, with a college degree in German. The OSS also know that Edith's brother went to Oxford with one of their most hunted war criminals. Count Kurt von Stabenow. This is an intriguing story. Edith adopts a pseudonym and poses as a cookbook author, a clever way to travel round the country and her recipes are sent back with hidden intel. The book did start off slowly, we got lots of detail and lots of characters. The story has been cleverly crafted and twists at the end were worth waiting for. I liked Edith, she was a tough cookie. I also liked the authors writing style. The final chapters were tense and gripping. I would like to thank #NetGalley #HarperCollinsUK #HarperFiction and the author #CeilaRees for my ARC of #MissGrahamsWarCookbook in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laura Chase

    I found it hard to get into but once I did it read at a nice pace. I did find it a bit hard to keep the characters apart.

  9. 5 out of 5

    DeB MaRtEnS

    Highly recommended! Quite an unusual spin on the Cold War immediately following the devastation of WWII, when Europe was reeling under devastation and rebuilding efforts were underway yet the Axis powers were quietly vying for power in the cleanup. The cookbook at the centre of this intrigue was an imagined device, created by the author, similar to many book codes employed during the war and is used to communicate between a sophisticated spy network. Nazi hunting is the “game”, and not every cou Highly recommended! Quite an unusual spin on the Cold War immediately following the devastation of WWII, when Europe was reeling under devastation and rebuilding efforts were underway yet the Axis powers were quietly vying for power in the cleanup. The cookbook at the centre of this intrigue was an imagined device, created by the author, similar to many book codes employed during the war and is used to communicate between a sophisticated spy network. Nazi hunting is the “game”, and not every country in pursuit has the same aims for those Germans with vast expertise in biological warfare, genetics and chemical engineering though those results were extracted in hideous manners. The European, or “Continental” style of the era was very well done, and the suspense built, as the portrayal of post-war Europe and its dark underbelly was drawn. The recipes were either sad affairs, a reflection of the deprivation or somewhat of a mystery at times (between the archaic British cooking terms, the loose reference to the “code book”, and the German names, I was quite bemused), but they provided a cohesive thread to knit this very interesting story together. “Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook” is different, a quiet slant on a spy story, quite powerful and very effective. Preface and prologue provide a delicious and tasty twist. Thanks to a GR reader, this came on my radar. It is worth checking out. 4.5 stars.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Pretty much this entire book gave me a headache. I'm not sure if it's because I just don't have it in me to keep up with all the twists, turns or subterfuge of spy novels (since I recently read another spy novel that I felt much the same way about) or if the author is so busy creating confusion and doubt about who to trust and who reports to whom that they create a mess not worth the reader following. In this case, Edith, a British spinster and teacher, is recruited by her cousin Leo to go work Pretty much this entire book gave me a headache. I'm not sure if it's because I just don't have it in me to keep up with all the twists, turns or subterfuge of spy novels (since I recently read another spy novel that I felt much the same way about) or if the author is so busy creating confusion and doubt about who to trust and who reports to whom that they create a mess not worth the reader following. In this case, Edith, a British spinster and teacher, is recruited by her cousin Leo to go work in Germany after the end of World War II, particularly with the opportunity to get close to acquaintances of theirs prior to the war. She's supposed to oversee the Education Commission (which rarely appears in the book at all) while ferreting out Germans that might be useful to the British. Except for her friend Dori and her boss Vera want her hunting people down to get revenge. Her friend Adeline and her boss want help getting Germans for the Americans. A Jewish man she meets wants to use her information for revenge before moving on to Palestine. And of course there's all the Germans that are still hiding their loyalty to the Nazis. This doesn't even begin to cover the possible connections and motives of the OTHER people in the book. Instead of being intriguing and compelling it's exhausting. It's a shame too, because it could be really interesting to read about circumstances in Germany after World War II and at the start of the Cold War, if it was really done right.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Anze

    Edith Graham lived through World War Two and survived by providing viable cooking recipes under a pen name in a cooking column. Now that the war is over, the British Control Comission is looking for capable civilains to help reconstruct Germany. Edith is a schoolteaacher, speaks fluent German and is single. Her cousin Leo encourages her to apply for a post with the comission. Edith does so and gets assigned the Education Officer post. But that is not her only assingment. While in Germany, Edith Edith Graham lived through World War Two and survived by providing viable cooking recipes under a pen name in a cooking column. Now that the war is over, the British Control Comission is looking for capable civilains to help reconstruct Germany. Edith is a schoolteaacher, speaks fluent German and is single. Her cousin Leo encourages her to apply for a post with the comission. Edith does so and gets assigned the Education Officer post. But that is not her only assingment. While in Germany, Edith is asked to root out a war criminal by the name of Kurt von Stavenow and her job gives her the perfect cover. Edith designs a code that can be hidden within recipes so she can send back information with ease. Quickly Edith realizes that this is a much more dangerous assingment than she first thought. I have been going through a rough reading patch lately (a residual effect left over from 2020 I suspect). This is the longest it has taken me too finish a book. I am finally getting back on track and it feels great. But I digress. Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook is a fine work of historical fiction. Edith Graham uses a pen name to share feasable cooking recipes that can be made even with the shortages of war. Now that the war is over she wants to do more and with her background as a teacher, she can. Leo, her cousin, works wiith Britsh intelligence and its not just civic duty that he has in mind for Edith. He wants her to be a spy and help find Kurt von Stavenow, a man she knew before the war. Edith accepts, reluctantly. She develops a way to hide infromation within recipes that will allow her to share it without detection. But the longer she is in Germany, the more it becomes clear that not everyone is who they claim to be and everyone appears to have a secret agenda. Trust becomes a hot commodity and danger escalates as more time passes. I love the premise, that is what drew me in. There is a myriad of fiction books that relate to the war and its aftermath and this one stood out. The beginning was slow and not very compelling but the further I read, the more interested I became. Characterization was done well and its not til the very end when you knew where everyone really stood. Speaking of the ending, it was surprising and unexpected. Personally, I loved it, thought it fitting. The pace and meting out of details matched the tone of the book. I love (most) of the female characters in this book. Their interactions were the driving force. This is not an entertaining read but its memorable. All and all. I quite liked this book. I love the inspiration behind it. Celia Rees found an old copy of the Radiation Cookbook among her mother's possesions. It was worn and within it, there were newspaper clippings and hand written recipes written by her aunt, mother and grandmother. She realized this is one meaningful way in which they comunicated. The idea for the book was born soon after.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Thea | (unapologetic_bibliosmia)

    3 Nazi-dodging, Recipe writing stars *** I really like WW2 historical novels, and so when I saw this Cold War-based historical novel for request on #Netgalley I was really intrigued. I hadn't expanded my reading of historical novels past ww2, and the Cold War period is a a period of history I really enjoy learning about so I just had to read it. Thanks to the Publisher and the author - I was given an ARC in exchange for review. This is one of those books where after I finished, I went straight bac 3 Nazi-dodging, Recipe writing stars *** I really like WW2 historical novels, and so when I saw this Cold War-based historical novel for request on #Netgalley I was really intrigued. I hadn't expanded my reading of historical novels past ww2, and the Cold War period is a a period of history I really enjoy learning about so I just had to read it. Thanks to the Publisher and the author - I was given an ARC in exchange for review. This is one of those books where after I finished, I went straight back to the beginning and reread the first chapter again! The beginning is the end... I really like books that do this. You feel your have come full circle! I hadn't really considered what had happened to all the spies, and intelligence reporting after the end of WW2, and was really fascinated reading the story of the people who were posted to areas of Europe to find out what was going on with the Nazis and SS Officers after the Allies had claimed victory. IT appears that if anything, the intelligence gathering only increased - with no clear common goals and an open playing field in Germany, there were many parties from many sides all working to different agendas - some of them from the same country working against each other. This tale, whilst fictional really made me think about Germany after the war and I was really surprised I hadn't really considered it before. What did happen to all those families that claimed loyalty to the Fuhrer whilst the war was on? What did happen to all those thousands of soldiers that did unspeakable things - did they all really just return to normal life as if nothing had happened? Or did the families stay in the shadows, plotting, conspiring, reminiscing on the 'good old days' planning to stand up and go again if the 'Fourth Reich' was to come to fruition? I also was really surprised and haunted to read about all the displaced person's accounts from neighboring countries, and how the end of the war did not necessarily mean all their problems were solved. Poland, Czechoslovakia, Prussia, Romania - all these countires faced further horrors. Their countries no longer existed as they knew them, if not completely converted into another country, then they had been invaded by the Russians and faced further horrors. They found themselves not welcome anywhere - Germany was too full of it's own problems to assist refugees, and England and America were only intent on having solved the 'War' and protecting Germany from the advancing Russians. Their choices were go home and be raped and beaten by Russian soldiers, or live on the streets in Germany hoping for a better life. I've read books and memoirs from Eastern European authors about their plights DURING the war - but never after, and I am saddened to realise that the war was not the end for them. This book details lots of different perspectives on the issues on the ground after the war and prompted some real thinking points. What WAS the right thing to do with the Nazis after the victory? Were they useful to advancing science or should they have been punished for their heinous crimes? I am of the thinking that all countries involved in helping to assist these despicable creatures escape justice after the end of the war are almost as culpable as Hitler himself. I am disgusted in my own Country for potentially allowing this to happen. Straight on to the next enemy - Russia - instantly forgetting who we had been fighting for 6 years and why. Whilst marketed as 'Cold War' truthfully this book wasn't really set or focused on the Cold War. I was thinking it would be set in 60s era Cold War, but the majority of the action in this book happens in 1946, directly at the end of WW2 and set in Germany - not Russia or the US. It only really is 'Cold War' in that the Russians are present and trying to take advantage of the situation in Europe. The clever use of recipes as a distraction in the submission of spy reports was an idea that appealed to me. Sadly, whilst every chapter was started with a recipe - I didn't really understand if there were hidden reports within them. If there were they were so cleverly coded that I didn't understand them. I also found that at times I got confused on who was working for who and to what aim. I was losing track of what the current mission was and who it was that our main protagonist Edith was working for during each point. For these reasons I have knocked a couple of stars off what would have been a 5 star novel. I am really glad I read this though, and grateful for the thought-provoking and sensitive subjects breached of Jewish settlement in Israel/Palestine, and the re-location of Nazis and SS after the war to 'Western countries.' I am off to find some more accounts of what happened to these pigs after the war......

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    With the end of WWII, London modern languages teacher Edith Graham is recruited to join the British Control Commission in Germany as the country begins to rebuild. As an Education Officer she will work to reestablish schools in Lubeck, but Edith has also been secretly tasked with passing on information to both the British Government, particularly if she is able to renew her acquaintance with ex-lover Kurt von Stavenow, and to her friend, Dori, who is searching for lost friends. It’s a risky prop With the end of WWII, London modern languages teacher Edith Graham is recruited to join the British Control Commission in Germany as the country begins to rebuild. As an Education Officer she will work to reestablish schools in Lubeck, but Edith has also been secretly tasked with passing on information to both the British Government, particularly if she is able to renew her acquaintance with ex-lover Kurt von Stavenow, and to her friend, Dori, who is searching for lost friends. It’s a risky proposition in a country beset with war criminals in hiding, conspirators, spies, and opportunists and Edith will have to learn quickly who to trust if she is to complete her mission. Rees has created a complex and interesting plot, exploring post war activities in Germany I’ve come across only rarely. The story offers action and tension, though I did feel it was slow to start, as Edith navigates a path strewn with suspicion, prejudice, deception, and danger, knowing a misstep could place her own life could at risk. She quickly detects traitors within her own lodgings, but it is Kurt, whom the British believe led the Aktion T4, a Nazi program that resulted in the extermination of the disabled, the infirm, the mentally ill, the young and elderly alike, who they really want. More than once Edith considers giving up, but she perseveres, determined to see justice done. There are several twists in the plot, but I was particularly stunned by the final chapters. The detail in the novel shows that the author engaged in meticulous historical research, Rees skilfully creates an authentic sense of time and place, illustrating the devastation of post war Germany and the resulting hardships for its people. It’s not only the experience of the British and German that Rees explores, there are characters who are displaced persons/refugees from countries such as Poland, Hungry, and Russia, plus serviceman and spies representing a number of nations, including America. Edith is an appealing character, amiable and earnest but quite naive when she takes up her post. Still, she soon finds her experience working under a pseudonym in England as Stella Snelling, a cookery columnist, of benefit, devising a code using recipes and the ‘Radiation Cookery Book’ to communicate with Dori, and discovering recipe collecting helps ease her way. Foodies will appreciate that many of these recipes are included in the book. Dori has an interesting backstory and plays a significant role in the story which becomes especially clear in the final chapters. Photojournalist Adeline, whom Edith befriended before the war, also appears regularly. There is a touch of romance for Edith with Harry Hirsch, a member of the Jewish Brigade smuggling Holocaust survivors into Mandatory Palestine. Other significant characters include Luka, an orphaned Polish boy Edith rescues from the streets, her driver Jack, who is also a soldier and a spy, and Edith’s cousin Leo, who pulls strings from the Home Office. Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook is a well crafted, absorbing and thrilling tale of post war espionage.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tori

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I had problems with this book. There were parts where I was on the edge of my seat. But other parts kind of dragged. I also have to admit, I don't like the killing of the main protagonist at the point in the book where she was killed. It kind of felt like when Kevin Spacey pushed Zoey onto the train tracks in House of Cards. We were all like, "What the fuck just happened? You can't kill HER." I also detested the last chapter. As if Elizabeth would just casually engage Dori in convo like they're o I had problems with this book. There were parts where I was on the edge of my seat. But other parts kind of dragged. I also have to admit, I don't like the killing of the main protagonist at the point in the book where she was killed. It kind of felt like when Kevin Spacey pushed Zoey onto the train tracks in House of Cards. We were all like, "What the fuck just happened? You can't kill HER." I also detested the last chapter. As if Elizabeth would just casually engage Dori in convo like they're old friends much less drink or eat anything Dori gave her. It would have been a much more powerful punch if Dori had given a fake name and then as Elisabeth was dying use the phrase to identify her as Dori and watch Elisabeth's horrified realization. The Kurt ending was too clean. A skiing accident? Really? We waited that entire book for some of our hated characters to get comeuppance and was left very disappointed. I wanted Leo a crying sniveling mess and dying of guilt. I feel like his character deserved more of a farewell than just a "Jack took care of it years later for M15." I realize it doesn't always work like that in real life and a lot of the old Nazis, in reality, didn't get their just due. (Mengele died in his swimming pool drinking a beer.) But since this is a work of fiction and I invested 487 pages into it, I really wanted some kind of amazing justice more than just the exchange between Elisabeth and Dori. I mean, let's face it, there were a ton of assholes in this book. Frau Schmidt comes to mind as well as Stephan. And did anyone else just want to punch Tom in the face all the way through the book? On the flipside, I wanted to know what happened to Harry more than just given a tidbit in the last sentence that he ended up in Tel Aviv presumably Masoud. I guess I just think this book was a lot of buildup and emotional investment into the characters on both sides and we were left wanting with the characters. It was if the entire last chapters were just passively saying what happened to people years later and brushed off. I can say the writing is incredible and she is a great writer. I just really wish there would have been more satisfactory and emotionally charged conclusions because the book was definitely emotionally charged with a lot of character investment.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alayne Emmett

    What a brilliant book, it was an excellent read with a twist at the end which I wasn’t expecting. Loved this one. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    3.5* This is a great book, a page turner as they say, and I did think it would be a five star read for me, but, as the book went on, a few doubts began to creep in, and although there was never any doubt that I’d finish it, I ended up feeling that it somehow missed the mark, that some of the characters, and their actions didn’t make total sense, and, after a very promising first two thirds or so, it eventually, slightly disappointed me..... It’s certainly has the ingredients for a good story...... 3.5* This is a great book, a page turner as they say, and I did think it would be a five star read for me, but, as the book went on, a few doubts began to creep in, and although there was never any doubt that I’d finish it, I ended up feeling that it somehow missed the mark, that some of the characters, and their actions didn’t make total sense, and, after a very promising first two thirds or so, it eventually, slightly disappointed me..... It’s certainly has the ingredients for a good story....... The Second World War has recently ended.....Edith Graham is a teacher, not as young as she once was, unmarried, and expected to be a companion to her ageing, ailing mother.....however, this is not the life Edith wants, and so she applies to travel to Germany to help re establish the schools that have been destroyed and devastated by war. Things aren’t going to be that straightforward though.....she knows several people who have been involved with less than transparent operations during the war, and becomes embroiled in some convoluted double dealing that involves the very worst of Nazi war criminals. Needing a way of contacting the women she’s secretly working with, without alerting the men she’s also supposed to be working for, but whose objectives she doesn’t agree with, she devises a code using an old cookery book.....she’s also been a part time cookery writer during the war, using a different name! Hence the title of this book.....it’s all a little convoluted! There are some serious themes in this book, heartbreaking, traumatic accounts of inhuman atrocities perpetrated on innocent people. The writing is very good, the descriptions of the damage War has inflicted on once beautiful cities are graphic, and on these levels it’s a good book, but I couldn’t get past the many unlikely coincidences, several unexplained incidents that just seemed to conveniently happened, and how Edith, again rather conveniently, had a history with key characters. I also felt disappointed by what felt like totally unsatisfactory conclusions to several of the storylines. So....a good book in many ways....and it has a high rating.....but it eventually just didn’t totally work for me.....

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    War changes everything doesn’t it? Destruction and death. Always death. This book had me thinking about the Nazis that took their lives because they’d learned of Hitlers death and what they’d face. Their suicides told me they were cowards. I’d not given much thought about after the war and the all the devastation. How Germany would fair. About how many Nazis may hide, away with it. The writing was engaging, eloquent and observant. The authors dedication to description was delightful. I felt like War changes everything doesn’t it? Destruction and death. Always death. This book had me thinking about the Nazis that took their lives because they’d learned of Hitlers death and what they’d face. Their suicides told me they were cowards. I’d not given much thought about after the war and the all the devastation. How Germany would fair. About how many Nazis may hide, away with it. The writing was engaging, eloquent and observant. The authors dedication to description was delightful. I felt like I was in the story. Feeling, seeing, experiencing all of it. The recipes were a nice touch also and Im going to try a few. I highly recommend this if you enjoy a good WW11 story. Thanks HarperCollins UK via Netgalley.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary Standeven

    I loved this book. It had everything I could want in a non-fantasy book: some history, food and recipes, German, international relations, some moral quandaries, not too little jeopardy and a great array of characters. I fell in love with the main character, Edith, as soon as she was introduced. She was everything I would hope to be, if ever in her situation: kind, resourceful, always willing to help, judging people on their merit – not their race or nationality, standing up for those less fortuna I loved this book. It had everything I could want in a non-fantasy book: some history, food and recipes, German, international relations, some moral quandaries, not too little jeopardy and a great array of characters. I fell in love with the main character, Edith, as soon as she was introduced. She was everything I would hope to be, if ever in her situation: kind, resourceful, always willing to help, judging people on their merit – not their race or nationality, standing up for those less fortunate than herself – and a good cook! At the end of WWII, Edith wanted to escape from her humdrum existence in England, go to Germany and put her language and teaching skills to use, to help in the rebuilding of a post-Nazi Germany. Her ‘cousin’, Leo, a member of the British intelligence service, convinces her to combine her new job with some low-grade spying, to root out Nazi sympathisers: “People get the wrong end of the stick about intelligence work. Most of it’s done by perfectly unexceptional types: businessmen, travel agents, teachers, clerks, typists, shop assistants, anybody really. Ordinary men – and women. It’s mostly a matter of keeping eyes and ears open, passing on information. Women are excellent at it. Superior intuition.” In particular, Leo wants Edith to locate her ex-boyfriend, Kurt, who is wanted because of his participation in the Nazi euthanasia project and for appalling medical ‘tests’ on Jews and other captive persons. Edith slips easily into her new role. She has had an alter ego for many years – a more glamorous ‘Bunbury’, who gives her an excuse to escape, on occasion, to London to visit friends, have fun, and to indulge her passion for food writing: “She sent her recipes as Stella Snelling, hiding behind the pseudonym’s anonymity. She didn’t want anyone at home to know and she liked the idea of Stella as much as she disliked the way people made judgements about her based on her job and her unmarried status.” Her recipe collecting acts as a cover in Germany and as a code for relaying information back to England. It also focusses her mind and gives her a non-threatening way of approaching strangers: “Food reveals a great deal. It also serves to fix the memory. Better than a diary. Even years later, the recall is instant.” Unlike many of her compatriots in Bremen, Edith is all too aware that not every German was a Nazi sympathiser. She likes to give people the benefit of the doubt, though usually still keeping her eyes and ears open – judging them on their actions, and interactions with others, not relying on the Persilschein that many brandish to prove that they are whiter-than-white. The characters in the book are seldom all-good or all-evil – each has their flaws, vices and redemptive qualities (except perhaps, Kurt). At each point you ask yourself – what would (could) I have done in those strained times. “She knew plenty who would have joined in without question, more who would have done nothing. She knew of very few who would have dared to do anything when faced with the threat of the Gestapo and the concentration camp.” Edith’s spying job is not straightforward. Leo is not the only person wanting to find Kurt and other ‘ex’-Nazis. Dori (Hungarian, ex-resistance) needs to find out what happened to the girls she sent into occupied France. She and Harry Hirsch (Latvian Jew) want to bring war criminals to justice. Leo, McHale (American) and the Soviets want the more ‘useful’ Nazis to work with/for them in the new Cold War. Adeline (American photographer) needs to keep her bosses happy or they will send her home. Edith must decide what information to share with whom: “‘That’s more or less what McHale said. No one’s interested in going after them any more, punishing them for what they’ve done.’ ‘We (Harry) are, Edith.’ He took her hands and held them tightly. ‘We are.’ His eyes took on a sudden, dark intensity. ‘We are a patient people. We remember for millennia. They will never be safe from us. No matter how long it takes, no matter how far they run.’” There is a devastating twist near the end, followed by another right at the end. Neither of which I saw coming. This is a very well written and researched book, with great characters and outstanding historical atmosphere. I highly recommend it. I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    I thought this was a really interesting side of history to write about. In the immediate aftermath of WW2 Edith gets sent to Germany to help get the country back on its feet, without the help of the Nazis or sympathizers of them, wouldn't want them teaching young children. When Edith's friend Leo finds out, he asks her to try and track down one of their mutual friends who, to her horror, had risen high in the ranks of the SS. Soon, another friend recruits her to do the same, but she wants Edith I thought this was a really interesting side of history to write about. In the immediate aftermath of WW2 Edith gets sent to Germany to help get the country back on its feet, without the help of the Nazis or sympathizers of them, wouldn't want them teaching young children. When Edith's friend Leo finds out, he asks her to try and track down one of their mutual friends who, to her horror, had risen high in the ranks of the SS. Soon, another friend recruits her to do the same, but she wants Edith to report to get instead as her lot are wanting to bring them to justice for their crimes, whereas Leo and His lot want to recruit him and use his knowledge; it seems both the Russians and Americans are also after him for this same reason. Soon Edith is in the middle of it all, not knowing who she can trust. I found the first half a bit of a slog, and I couldn't keep straight, who was who, who they worked for and who wanted what. I felt like the author had done a very good job researching the details of this time and place, but I'm no expert and for all I know it could have been full of errors, but it did have the ring of truth about it. It picked up for me eventually, but I never truly cared about the characters; ultimately it lacked that indefinable spark for me, but I think it's a competently written novel that will no doubt work much better for others. *Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for a review copy in exchange for an honest opinion.*

  20. 5 out of 5

    eyes.2c

    Brilliant! I haven't been so absorbed in a post WW2 novel for ages! Not you're usual post 1945 European reconstruction story. This is set mainly in Germany after the surrender. Edith Graham decides that now is the time to do her bit and she applies to work for the British government Control Commission for Germany, concerned with rebuilding that nation and searching for war criminals. Before she leaves London for Germany she is briefed by Vera Atkins about possibly discovering the fate of four Brit Brilliant! I haven't been so absorbed in a post WW2 novel for ages! Not you're usual post 1945 European reconstruction story. This is set mainly in Germany after the surrender. Edith Graham decides that now is the time to do her bit and she applies to work for the British government Control Commission for Germany, concerned with rebuilding that nation and searching for war criminals. Before she leaves London for Germany she is briefed by Vera Atkins about possibly discovering the fate of four British women agents dropped behind enemy lines who disappeared. Two other women will form part of this coterie, her friend Dorie and journalist Adeline Parnell. Edith hits on the idea of using recipes as a coding method for sending messages between them. Coupled with that is a request from her cousin Leo who's in the Secret Service asking her to make contact with an old flame, Count Kurt von Stavenow. It seems Kurt is a wanted war criminal, a Doctor involved in the most despicable of experiments. Berlin is a hotbed of swirling competitive government agencies from the US, to Russia and Britain, all trying to gain information. Then there's Harry Hirsch, a member of the Jewish Brigade, acting as a pipeline for people moving to Israel and involved in tracking down high ranking Nazis and their sympathizers hidden amongst the European communities. The lives of the ordinary people who have fled to places like Hamburg are stories of deprivation, starvation, inadequate shelter, and a lack of fundamental needs. Edith is involved in education. Black marketing is rife, as is the existence of the Nazi hierarchy, driven underground yet existing in relative comfort. Riveting and compelling I was fully onboard and fully absorbed by the charged plot. The various characters introduced were real and present. Simply put--a fabulous read! A HarperCollins ARC via NetGalley

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Of the many things I loved about Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook, the standout was Miss Graham herself. Edith is smart, shrewd and eager to do good, to make a difference. Her family don’t see it that way, but her decision to work for the Control Commission in Germany is not an excuse to shirk family responsibilities, it’s out of a desire to do something. “All through the war, she’d seen others leave to join the forces, do useful work. She’d done nothing. She felt wasted and unfulfilled, as thoug Of the many things I loved about Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook, the standout was Miss Graham herself. Edith is smart, shrewd and eager to do good, to make a difference. Her family don’t see it that way, but her decision to work for the Control Commission in Germany is not an excuse to shirk family responsibilities, it’s out of a desire to do something. “All through the war, she’d seen others leave to join the forces, do useful work. She’d done nothing. She felt wasted and unfulfilled, as though she’d missed an important experience.” Edith has a keen sense of justice and shows empathy towards those whom others ignore. For example, the German maids employed in the house where she is billeted are treated as mere skivvies, symbols of a defeated nation, by some of the other girls who live there. Edith treats them as equals, listens to their stories and tries to help them where she can. However, Edith is no straight-laced prude; she’s not averse to the occasional amorous adventure. I also loved Edith’s friends, Adeline and Dori, equally remarkable women with their own very personal missions to undertake, whether that’s exposing the realities of war to the wider public or learning the fate of wartime comrades. (In respect of the latter, I liked the inclusion of references to real-life heroines who served with the Special Operations Executive, such as Noor Inayat Khan.) Both Adeline and Dori will prove to be true friends to Edith in a way I found especially moving. There are so many clever touches in the book. Not just the recipes and menus at the beginning of each chapter, or the central idea of using a cookery book to send coded messages, but the use of cooking as a metaphor. For example, the process of collecting intelligence is described as “a patient gathering. A foraging, a nosing up of morsels” and, at one point, Edith fears she’s “following a breadcrumb trail of duplicity”. Other clever elements include Edith’s invented friend who provides her with convenient excuses for trips away, reminding me of Algernon Moncrieff’s invalid friend Bunbury in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, and the intriguing prologue which I simply had to reread – with fresh insight – once I’d finished the book. The gap between “the conquerors and the conquered” is vividly brought home in the contrast between the generous portions of food enjoyed by the Allies in their messes or billets and that of the German citizens and thousands of displaced people “caught like a feather on the great gusting breath of war, picked up and put down again”. Not for the British or Americans pancakes made of potato peelings or ‘tea’ made from pine needles, but copious quantities of toast and jam, and homely dishes such as spotted dick. The period detail about food, clothing and so on, and the descriptions of the bomb-damaged German cities with their “churned streets carved through ruins and rubble” is clearly the result of impeccable and lengthy research. Although there are delicious sounding recipes for cakes and pastries, Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook is definitely not all sweetness. Far from it. There are sour and bitter flavours as well, and moments of real darkness that may shock and surprise you. For example, the testimonies of some of the people Edith encounters; tales of suffering, displacement and wartime atrocities that are a “black muster roll of monstrous perversions”. Like the reader, Edith awakens to the growing realisation that no side has the monopoly on right and – like that hotel dinner menu staple, the Vienna steak – not everything is exactly what it claims to be. The warning “There’s a darker side of life in the Zone” proves all too true. The final chapters are full of drama and tension, keeping me completely gripped. If you’ll pardon the pun, Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook contains all the ingredients I look for in great historical fiction. I loved everything about it and it’s definitely in the running to be one of my favourite books of the year.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Linden

    Set immediately after WW II. A British teacher is sent to Germany with the Control Commission, but her real assignment is to find a Nazi doctor she knew before the war. This one is a real page turner. 4.5 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    Edith Graham is a young Englishwoman who spent WW2 at home, teaching school and looking after her mother. Once the war ended, though, she decides to try to do something important. She volunteers to go to Germany to set up schools intended to help feed and educate children—and set them on a democratic path. Because Edith is fluent in German, she is quickly hired. Just as quickly, she is asked by British intelligence to be on the lookout for Nazis hiding out, especially her 1930s Oxford lover, Kurt Edith Graham is a young Englishwoman who spent WW2 at home, teaching school and looking after her mother. Once the war ended, though, she decides to try to do something important. She volunteers to go to Germany to set up schools intended to help feed and educate children—and set them on a democratic path. Because Edith is fluent in German, she is quickly hired. Just as quickly, she is asked by British intelligence to be on the lookout for Nazis hiding out, especially her 1930s Oxford lover, Kurt von Stavenow. Kurt became a doctor and SS man, involved in horrific crimes in the name of science. Edith learns that there are several people who want to find Kurt, and their reasons vary. She becomes close to a Jewish man who wants to ensure Nazis cannot slip away into new lives. Edith’s friend Dori, a former behind-enemy-lines agent for Britain’s SOE, believes Kurt has the answer to the fate of four of her sister agents. On the other end of the spectrum, though, there are British and American agents who want to scoop Kurt up, along with other Nazis with science backgrounds, and use them to help develop weapons for the coming Cold War. Edith’s trip through Germany and move to the Baltic city of Lubeck are eye-opening. Cities are in ruins, near-starving displaced persons are everywhere, black markets thrive, and figuring out who is and who isn’t a Nazi or Nazi sympathizer is a challenge. Edith’s search for Kurt soon puts her in danger, and the story ratchets up the tension until the final thrilling pursuit and twisty ending. Thinking over the novel after I read it, I had to acknowledge that it has a number of flaws. Edith receives no intelligence training before being sent to Germany. She does almost nothing to maintain her school administrator cover. Edith seems to stumble, improbably, across every kind of war criminal, conspirator and grifter within days of her arrival in Germany. Some of the Nazi types she encounters come close to being B-movie caricatures. The recipe code she has worked out with Dori seems unlikely to convey the kind of detailed information it is claimed to do. And yet Rees’s storytelling lifts the book above my after-the-fact quibbles. While I was reading I was fully engaged, feeling it was just a crackerjack espionage story. Despite the cozy-sounding title, it has a hard-boiled manner that suits the story perfectly. I definitely recommend it, especially if you’re interested in female-centric espionage novels. I received a digital review copy from HarperCollins, via Netgalley.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kaysha

    I'd probably give this book 2.5 stars overall, but going with 3 to be on the high side. This book had a very slow beginning and was very long. There seemed to be lots of details, but it was hard for me to keep all the characters straight at times. Throughout the book, we traveled along with Miss Graham as she went to Germany and was a spy for two different people. Although it was interesting to find out what she learned and who she found, it still seemed like too long of a book. The book had a v I'd probably give this book 2.5 stars overall, but going with 3 to be on the high side. This book had a very slow beginning and was very long. There seemed to be lots of details, but it was hard for me to keep all the characters straight at times. Throughout the book, we traveled along with Miss Graham as she went to Germany and was a spy for two different people. Although it was interesting to find out what she learned and who she found, it still seemed like too long of a book. The book had a very fast finish for the story, and left with little closure, or at least a closure that I did not fully approve of. I was given this book through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Aoife

    I received this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. In 1946,Edith travels to Lubeck, Germany, to help set up schools for German children and the displaced young in a country still reeling from war and an ultimate loss. But Edith also has another mission, find a former beau of her youth who became to be a Nazi doctor and is now wanted by the British and Americans, as well as the Russians. In the form of recipes, Edith relays information back to her handlers as I received this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. In 1946,Edith travels to Lubeck, Germany, to help set up schools for German children and the displaced young in a country still reeling from war and an ultimate loss. But Edith also has another mission, find a former beau of her youth who became to be a Nazi doctor and is now wanted by the British and Americans, as well as the Russians. In the form of recipes, Edith relays information back to her handlers as she embarks on a journey of danger, espionage and treachery. This book started off a bit clunky for me but it grew stronger and stronger until I was hooked onto the pages, and could not put it down. At the start of the book, the story felt a bit weak and confusing for me as we were getting a lot of names that didn't mean anything yet and because we were meeting people Edith already had wartime connections with, it kind of felt we were being thrown into the middle of a conversation and trying to catch a thread. However, as soon as Edith arrived in Germany and her work began, I felt myself really hooked by the story. I don't think I've read many other books set in Germany directly after WW2 when the country was completely devastated, civilians and refugees were starving and desperate and there was no government to run anything so the Brits and Americans who had their own interests in mind were doing a lot of the controlling. I really liked the viewpoint of this - Celia Rees didn't shy away from the awful, hard to imagine, deeds of Nazi officers and doctors, as well as the sneakiness of the civilians who worshipped Hitler and his ilk. But she also made clear the suffering of the average German, and the people who were left to pick up the pieces when the SS did a runner, leaving a broken country behind them. I also really appreciated that neither the Brits or Americans were the big heroes in this tale - in fact, they were both as slimy and treacherous as each other and out for their own gain rather than making someone actually pay for what they did (which honestly was scream-inducing). The female characters in this book are excellent - in fact, it is a female driven novel with the males just swooping in now and again to receive or give information or just be there as a brief distraction in the form of love making. Edith, Adeline and Dori were all fabulous characters and all different from each other - Edith, gentle yet intelligent, Dori smart and ruthless and Adeline was the sweeter one but ready to tell a story no matter how hard it would be. And then we had Elizabeth, Molly and Frau Schmidt on the other side - very different women but all powerful and big on the page in their own way. As I said earlier, the story builds as plans are made and we are eventually standing on an Italian balcony with Edith not knowing what is about to happen. This book doesn't have a lot of action or gunfire, instead it is of hidden code, and fake smiles and an espionage built by women both good and evil. Around the chapter 40 mark, I went back and read the very first chapter again as I suspected something (I was right) and it made the end even more thrilling for me. I really enjoyed this, a different type of WW2 novel from ones I've read before where the real heroes are the women who joined up in bravery to go behind enemy lines and much more often than not, they never came back.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ptaylor

    Set in Germany after World War II. Edith longs for something different from the life she's been leading in Coventry - an old maid school teacher caring for her widowed mother. Her cousin, Leo, offers an opportunity to do something good in war-torn Germany. She will work with his commission to set up schools for the German children. And while she's doing that, she might keep her eyes and ears open to see if there's any news about their old friend, Kurt von Stavenow. Edith accepts Leo's offer, and Set in Germany after World War II. Edith longs for something different from the life she's been leading in Coventry - an old maid school teacher caring for her widowed mother. Her cousin, Leo, offers an opportunity to do something good in war-torn Germany. She will work with his commission to set up schools for the German children. And while she's doing that, she might keep her eyes and ears open to see if there's any news about their old friend, Kurt von Stavenow. Edith accepts Leo's offer, and begins the adventure of a lifetime. Highly recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sue Em

    Everything you could want in an historical novel. High stakes. Fresh perspective. Original voice. After spending WWII in the English countryside caring for her mother, Edith Graham seizes the opportunity to go to Germany to help set up schools. Of course, there is secret mission based on her prewar friendship with a young man who grew to prominence in the SS. Edith is smart, resolute and engaging and the history of a period where the old allegiances were changing, and new enemies found. Well-wri Everything you could want in an historical novel. High stakes. Fresh perspective. Original voice. After spending WWII in the English countryside caring for her mother, Edith Graham seizes the opportunity to go to Germany to help set up schools. Of course, there is secret mission based on her prewar friendship with a young man who grew to prominence in the SS. Edith is smart, resolute and engaging and the history of a period where the old allegiances were changing, and new enemies found. Well-written with fascinating and well developed characters.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    ‘... the fear that still held sway here, of hidden forces under the surface. Like they ’re afraid of something. As though the people we’re looking for still have influence and power.’ I initially picked up this book as, being a lover of historical fiction, it was of post WWII and the onset of the Cold War. I had not read much about this time period. Little did I realise the epic journey I would be taken on. This is a definite stand out book for me in 2020! This is such a well written piece of lite ‘... the fear that still held sway here, of hidden forces under the surface. Like they ’re afraid of something. As though the people we’re looking for still have influence and power.’ I initially picked up this book as, being a lover of historical fiction, it was of post WWII and the onset of the Cold War. I had not read much about this time period. Little did I realise the epic journey I would be taken on. This is a definite stand out book for me in 2020! This is such a well written piece of literature that ticked so many boxes for me and an ending that totally swept me off my feet. Celia Rees has certainly done her homework here and produced a most memorable tale. On the surface this may appear your usual run-of-the-mill spy novel but the depth of research, plot and character arcs in this story is quite remarkable. There really was not that much about recipes - this was just a way, I believe, to demonstrate the ‘normalness’ of the lead character, Edith. What a character she was - more of that in a moment. This is a tale of spies, deception, political intrigue, poverty and reconstruction. The range of characters is so well done that the reader is really unsure of who to trust. Post war Germany was graphically presented from the weather, to the food, to the swelling underground of Nazis wishing to escape Europe. Into this network of war criminals and Russian/British/American sectors, throw in an innocent and honest lead character of Edith. "Lessons were conducted in the only room fit for habitation; the only room with any heating. An old iron stove stood in the corner; a small pile of fuel next to it, a few cobs of coke and coal, the scattering of sticks little more than kindling. The room had no ceiling. What little heat there was went up into the rafters. The children and staff worked bundled in coats and scarves.’ Edith is quite a remarkable woman. Thought to be a spinster with life having passed her by, off she goes to help reconstruct schools in Germany. Her honesty and determination to do the right thing is selfless yet worrying - but not detrimentally so to the story. It’s who she is. Edith is supported by experienced operatives who are guiding her. You become so invested in her journey that she will without doubt stay with you long after you have turned the last page. Yet, this is not a ‘one woman’ show and Edith is surrounded by friends and foes on all sides and this truly sheds a light onto war torn Germany and Europe. The writing is so well done that from Jack the chauffeur, to Dori the former spy - you become invested in not only their individual stories but the collective joint venture in the fight for retribution. ‘She should stop this spying. She wasn’t cut out for it. Escape from its spreading, tenebrous shadow. Meddle no more. She covered her face with her hands, tears leaking through her fingers for two young women stretched out in the morgue who might well be there because of her.’ Celia has written of locations savaged by war that it is absolutely haunting. The crumbling buildings, the masses of refugees, the daily struggle against disease, shelter and malnutrition. These desolate passages leap off the pages and you feel the seemingly helplessness of the situation. Then there is the central plot - hunting down Nazi war criminals. Men and women who you can’t believe would treat their fellow human beings in that way. Celia lays their crimes out for you to shake your head at in disbelief with the pain and heartbreak palpable. The research here is evident and it lends utter credibility to this fictional tale. “All this was going on and we knew it. It was just another thing, among so many things, that one tried to ignore, to turn a blind eye. What could we do? Nothing. That’s what we told ourselves. There weren’t that many Jews in our area. When they disappeared, moved to the east to work, we half believed it. The Gypsies? They just didn’t come any more. It is easy to compound a lie by lying to oneself. Easy to ignore the truth, until it arrives at your door.” The ending ... well, I can’t say anything ... but it’s like watching something in slow motion and you can’t believe it is happening. There are many books about WWII but I love the fact that this one has a different focus on post war and sheds light on clearing up after the devastation. I cannot recommend highly enough how exceptional I found this book to be and if this topic in any way appeals to you then it is a definite must read. ‘There’s less and less appetite for bringing these people to justice. Too time consuming and expensive. The new policy seems to be to use them against the Russians or let them slither away. All this War Crimes stuff is being “discouraged”.’ "That’s more or less what McHale said. No one’s interested in going after them any more, punishing them for what they’ve done." This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    What a marvelous book! At the end of WWII, Britain is overseeing its occupation zones in Germany, hiring citizens to work there to rebuild and prosecute war crimes. Edith Graham, a school teacher who is bored and tired of living with her overbearing mother, is eager to sign on. She's recruited as a spy to hunt down one such criminal: Kurt von Stavenow, with whom she had a close relationship before the war. This book was fascinating. I was immediately drawn by the premise--I love everything about t What a marvelous book! At the end of WWII, Britain is overseeing its occupation zones in Germany, hiring citizens to work there to rebuild and prosecute war crimes. Edith Graham, a school teacher who is bored and tired of living with her overbearing mother, is eager to sign on. She's recruited as a spy to hunt down one such criminal: Kurt von Stavenow, with whom she had a close relationship before the war. This book was fascinating. I was immediately drawn by the premise--I love everything about the WWII and post war period and Edith's alter ego, Stella Snelling, a cook book author hiding intelligence reports among her recipes, was spot on. Celia Rees is also a remarkable writer--her world is fully realized with lush prose that keeps you reading as much as the plot itself. I'd not read any of her books before and this was a wonderful introduction. I'll be sure to seek out more from her in the future. Thank you to William Morrow Books through their Book Club Girls group, and NetGalley for providing this ARC to review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    imabookmagnet

    Wow! What a book! I really enjoyed reading the story of Edith and of how she was working with several different military operations to help track down someone from her past. It was a suspenseful read that kept moving at a perfect pace. I was concerned going in to reading this, with the word cookbook going in...yes there were recipes and talks of food... but it made perfect sense once I was involved in the story. Definitely check this book out! I’d like to thank Book Club Girls, Net Galley and the Wow! What a book! I really enjoyed reading the story of Edith and of how she was working with several different military operations to help track down someone from her past. It was a suspenseful read that kept moving at a perfect pace. I was concerned going in to reading this, with the word cookbook going in...yes there were recipes and talks of food... but it made perfect sense once I was involved in the story. Definitely check this book out! I’d like to thank Book Club Girls, Net Galley and the publisher for early access to this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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