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Louise's War Hardcover – August 1, 2011
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An OSS file draws the attention of a young widow. And a murderer. Louise Pearlie, whose husband died five years ago after his measles led to pneumonia, moves from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., where she begins work as a clerk in the Research and Analysis branch of the Office of Strategic Services. When she comes upon a document from Gerald Bloch, a hydrography expert on the coastline of French North Africa, requesting asylum for his Jewish wife and child while he joins the Resistance to fight the Nazis, she takes it to her supervisor. Next thing you know, the supervisor is found dead in his ransacked office and the document has gone missing. Louise, who was best friends with Rachel Bloch at college, is desperate to save her from the Reich's clutches. She resolves to find the file, get it to Gen. Donovan, and have him initiate plans to bring Rachel to the States. But it's difficult knowing whom to trust. Louise fends off several would-be suitors who may be Vichy supporters. She chats up Clark Gable at a posh mansion. She frets over FBI agents staking out her boarding house. She even breaks into the French embassy for more information on Gerald Bloch. She's also confused about her fellow boarder Joe Prager. He may or may not actually be a professor of Slavic languages, but he sets off delicious little tingles whenever he's near. Less cozy than Shaber's Simon Shaw series (Shell Game, 2008, etc.), and a virtual primer on how narrow minded 1940s society was, with women expected to get coffee for their bosses, homosexuals to hide their preference and people of color to accept job discrimination -- Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2011
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Washington DC is one of my favorite cities; I've visited it often as both my sons have lived and worked there over the last ten years. It's a beautiful city - though not particularly comfortable in the summer - and wandering the streets at leisure is a walk through American history. The WW2-era buildings are all over the place; one of my sons lived in an apartment building on Scott Circle built during the war to house white-collar workers, who descended on Washington with the desire to help the "war effort" and, in many cases, to leave small-town life for the big city. It is one of those workers - Louise Pearlie - who's the main "human" character in Shaber's mystery.
Louise, in her late 20's and a widow, has moved to DC from Wilmington, NC. She's fairly sophisticated for a small-town gal, and equipped with a junior college education, gets a "file clerk" job with the newly-established OSS. She works in a non-descript building near the George Washington University campus, and lives in one of the many boarding houses which housed government workers. She has heard from an old friend - a French Jewish woman with two children she had attended college with - who needs help in getting out of Vichy France before the Germans move in. She tries to help Rachel and her children through the standard "back-door" measures common in the early 1940's.Read more ›
Louise comes across a file on Gerald Bloch, a French hydrology expert who is a Jew trapped in Vichy France. The file is about to be forwarded to the higher-ups at the OSS so that they may decide whether to smuggle Bloch and his family out of France and use his expertise on North African aquatic geography in a possible invasion. Louise is shocked to see that Bloch's wife is her closest college friend, Rachel, whom Louise has been worried sick about.
Louise's shock intensifies when her boss, who had the file, is found dead in his office and the file goes missing. Louise doesn't know who is responsible for making the file disappear, so she has to do her own investigation on the sly, knowing that time may soon run out for Rachel, Gerald and their children.
Shaber excels at portraying wartime Washington, with its large houses rapidly transformed into crammed rooming houses and even government offices. Without hammering the reader over the head, she lets us know the position women and African-Americans were in. The story takes place in late June to early July, and Shaber makes the reader feel the misery of the relentless heat and humidity in a city that the British government rated as qualifying for tropical hardship status for its personnel stationed there.Read more ›
Small touches of life in Washington tell us a lot about the wartime capital and the people in it. With bus drivers drafted and the bus company refusing to hire men of color as drivers public transportation is a mess. The drivers of private cars almost always stop at corners where people are waiting for buses that may not show up and take as many as will fit in the direction they are going. Louise squeezes into the back seat of a Packard next to a very young woman--Louise guesses she is seventeen and a callow Army private. They are on their way to a magistrate to be married but while she congratulates them and wishes them the best, Louise is thinking that the girl would be better off going back home unmarried. Louise is a young widow and a friend is a widow with an infant.
So we find out about Louise and those around her by eavesdropping on their thoughts, privy not only to what they do but what they hope and fear.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love the 40's era and this book sets the scene perfectly. Really enjoyed it and looking forward to reading the next book in the series.Published 8 days ago by aei
This book is a well-written tale set in World War II Washington D.C. The details of living and working there in that era are fascinating. Read morePublished 26 days ago by GC
This is a story written on about a 4th grade reading level. Reminded me of the Nancy Drew series, only not as good!Published 2 months ago by Dorothy garcia
LOUISE’S WAR, (2011), by award-winning North Carolina author Sarah Shaber, is first in her popular historical mystery series: it stars, and is narrated by, Louise Pearlie, a young... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Stephanie De Pue
Shaber is an awesome writer. She does an outstanding job of creating the mood of WWII-era Washington, and the workings of the OSS. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Sprtsgy
I like the background of this book more than I exactly enjoyed the plot exactly. I would recommend the book.Published 7 months ago by Tommy B. McDonell, Ph.D.
Great mystery. Enjoyed the historical information along with the characters and story.Published 11 months ago by Nancy Sue
Great Series, fun historical - fiction read. Waiting for the next book !Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer