The best Soviet spy?
“Red Joan” by Jennie Rooney is loosely based on the true story of 87-year-old English woman Melita Norwood who, in 1999, was accused of being the most important and longstanding Soviet spy working in England for the KGB, while employed in top secret work on the UK arm of the Manhattan Project – the making of the first A bomb.
The blurb sums it up by describing it as “gripping, emotional and beautifully written.” I found that it took a few chapters before it began to grip but it was worth the wait. It is, in fact, a story of love, idealism and betrayal woven around this woman, her workmates, her lovers and her son. It rings true, although these strands may be fictional. It portrays her story with a great deal of empathy about her situation, her feelings and her underlying sympathies with causes which were once well meant, but soon became treacherous.Jennie Rooney has written two previous books about which I know nothing, but based on the evidence of ‘Red Joan’ she is worth following up.
– Larry Gordon