Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Company of Strangers: Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson's description of The Company of Strangers in an article at the Crime Time website:
"The Company of Strangers is a spy thriller / love story which is set primarily in Lisbon in the July of 1944, has its continuation in East Berlin of early 1971 and a denouement in England in the early 1990s." 

A quote: 
     Cardew's conversation drifted toward work.
     "Yes, the fifties were terrific once we go rid of bugger boys Burgess and Maclean. Thought we were right on top of the game, only to find it was a complete bloody farce…
Khrushchev said to Kennedy once that we should give each other a list of all our spies and we'd probably find they read the same. Too bloody right."

There are two main protagonists, Karl Voss, a young intelligence officer in the German Army and Andrea Aspinall, who becomes a spy for the British during World War II in Lisbon at a very young age. The complications of their family relationships and their affair mold the rest of the story.

It is a love story, but I would not call it romantic. It is more about the harsh realities of life. It is about families, and relationships, and maturing. It seems like a lot of books I have read lately have had a theme of family relationships and how they affect us. Or maybe I am just focused on that topic right now.

Did I like this book? Yes, very much. I enjoyed the author’s storytelling and the characterizations. It did take me a long time to read. It was a big thick book but I don’t think that was the problem. There was a section in the middle where it slowed down and I would have like more explanation of that period of Andrea’s life, but then it would have been even longer. At the end, I felt that the author had set the stage well for the final events. 

This book also appealed to me because of the time period and subject matter. World War II and spy intrigue. And then it transitions into a Cold War novel and double agents. Was the depiction of spies and their double crosses and cynicism realistic? I don’t know, but I was convinced. It was real for me.

This counts as one of my books for the following challenges:
Mt. TBR Challenge
Read Your Own Books Challenge
A-Z Challenge
Chunkster Challenge
European Challenge
Merely Mystery Reading Challenge
Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge

1 comment:

Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

This one sounds like it is right up my alley. I am going to go read more about it now.

Thanks for including your review in the European Reading Challenge!