Saturday, October 10, 2015
The Incidental Spy - a Novella by Libby Fischer Hellman
This novella starts at the beginning of the end, with nothing given away; then it quickly reverts to the beginning...a unique method that really pulls the reader into the book. The story takes place in a time I can remember and as such I can honestly say that Libby Fischer Hellman has absolutely captured the feelings and fears of that time of world war, as well as delving into the pressure cooker of the beginnings of the atomic bomb. Nuclear physics was at its highest priority, and Lena, a German Jew living in America, has already suffered the probable loss of her family to the concentration camps, and has just lost her husband, father of her young son. After this loss, and to support her son and herself, she finds herself back in the Physics Dept. of the university where she had worked prior to her son's birth, busily occupied with the humdrum portion, the paperwork. Now she works with famous scientists and government workers, albeit as a secretary. Everything in her life seems to have begun to return to some type of normal...or has it?
At this point, tension in the story takes a full swing into terror and brings the reader with it.Yet, though the tension builds, it all seems plausible. Once again, a time in my memory is revived when the world lived in fear, especially North America. What can one do in the situation Lena finds herself? The story is a classic good versus evil, but where and how will Lena be able to reconcile her thoughts, her shame and the trap she has set herself? This book pulsates with a life of its own, believable, memorable and deadly. The author has an amazing way with words and is exceptional at toying with our minds if we set to wondering "What would we do in Lena's situation?" I read this one straight through at one sitting, with the story still reverberating in my mind.