Sunday, November 4, 2012

Jack 1939

Francine Mathews
Jack 1939

As the author of  the Jane Austen mysteries (under the pseudonym Stephanie Barron), I am a huge fan of Francine Mathews. Her Jane Austen mysteries are dead on - using letters, known biography, dialogue from her novels and filling in the blanks left by all that is not known in a most entertaining way.

I also really, really liked her two non-Jane historical mysteries, Flaw in the Blood, which is about Queen Victoria, and The White Garden, about Virginia Woolf's suicide. Both are terrific fun, well researched. Because of Flaw I read up on Queen Victoria, actually an amazing woman;  check out Cecil Woodham-Smith's superb Queen Victoria biography.

So I knew that Ms. Mathews really does her research. Jack 1939 is full of unexpected historical facts and surmises about Jack Kennedy and his pre-war European travels. This includes Kennedy family color - stuff about sisters Kathleen and Rosemary, Bobby, Rose, the whole clan. In this sex-tinged spy thriller, future president Jack Kennedy, then a college student, is a spy for Roosevelt and in opposition to his own father, who some would suggest was a Nazi sympathizer before the war.  Young and sickly but incredibly attractive to all sorts of women, married as well as Radcliffe virgins, Jack fights Nazis funding out critical information about Nazi war plans. Really sympathetic to Kennedy, less so to his parents. A really fun read.

Note: this summer and fall, my mystery reading fell off a bit. I read all 5 books of the Game of Thrones series - anxiously waiting for the 6th! Will be catching up with some reviews in the coming days and weeks.

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