July 7, 2021

A Woman of Intelligence

A Woman of Intelligence

by Karin Tanabe

Published date: July 7, 2021
by Simon and Schuster Australia

Rating: 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Historical Fiction

New York, 1954. A Fifth Avenue address, parties at the Plaza, two healthy sons and the ideal husband: what looks like a perfect life for Katharina Edgeworth is anything but.

As a single girl in 1940s Manhattan, Katharina was a translator at the newly formed United Nations, devoting her days to her work and the promise of world peace – and her nights to cocktails and the promise of a good time.

Now the wife of a beloved pediatric surgeon and heir to a shipping fortune, Katharina is trapped in a gilded cage, desperate to escape the constraints of domesticity. So when she is approached by the FBI and asked to join their ranks as an informant, Katharina seizes the opportunity. A man from her past has become a high-level Soviet spy, but no one has been able to infiltrate his circle.

Enter Katharina, the perfect woman for the job.

Navigating the demands of the FBI and the secrets of the KGB, she becomes enthralled by her secret mission. But as those closest to her lose their covers, and their lives, Katharina’s secret soon threatens to ruin her.

My Thoughts:

This book had me at “New York, 1954.” Ever since the movie Desk Set, I’ve been obsessed with working women in this time and place. What’s so fascinating about this book is that it shows just how difficult it was for many women of intelligence to go from vital war work to housewife and mother. The suffering was all done in silence because motherhood is supposed to bring ultimate satisfaction and complaints lead to psychiatrist appointments and prescriptions for Valium. Katharina’s unlikely involvement with the FBI and the fight against communism allows her to escape that life for a while and exercise her mind and talents. However, it’s not that easy to escape home life to be a spy. The author describes the despair of a stay-at-home mom so well I was reaching for the Valium. But then there are heart-racing espionage scenes as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

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