That Summer in Berlin
September 29, 2023

Book Review

That Summer in Berlin

reviewed by Pam Guynn

Danger, intrigue, the Olympics, and a possible romance take center stage in Lecia Cornwall’s historical fiction novel That Summer in Berlin. Taking place mainly between the fall of 1935 and the summer of 1936, with an epilogue in 1940, this novel focuses on a time when German power was rising. England was divided on whether this was a good thing where the economy is recovering or if it means there’s a threat of war.

The English aristocracy believes the best way to strengthen political bonds is through marriage. Debutantes go to Germany with the hopes of making a match. This includes Viviane Alden and her half-sister Julia Devellin. Additionally, the English government sends in spies to seek out the truth, believing that Germany is rearming and preparing for another war.

But during the Olympics in 1936, Germany is on its best behavior, at least on the surface. The English need photographic proof of what is going on behind the scenes. Who would expect a young tourist taking holiday pictures of being a spy? It’s up to Viviane and a journalist she’s paired with to discover and reveal the truth.

Viviane wants to do good and believes in fighting for what’s right. She’s also a strong swimmer, avid amateur photographer, clever, and likes the challenge of having a secret life. Tom Graham, a trained engineer turned reporter wants to right wrongs. He’s well educated, discreet, and smart. However, he can also come across as arrogant and has an odd sense of humor that can make others uncomfortable. The characters, including secondary characters, felt authentic and emotionally rich. The older sons of Julia’s German godfather were particularly well-depicted.

This historical fiction and spy novel is well written. The plot is twisty and the story kept me captivated despite a few slow spots. The historical references to events during the Olympics added a significant layer of interest and realism to the plot. The mix of real people and fictional characters was well-done. Occasionally, I needed to look up a character to see if they were real or not. The author has done a great job of capturing the divided sentiments both within England and within Germany. The world-building was well-done.

Overall, this was an entertaining but disturbing story. We know what happened soon after the end of this novel. Other themes included in the novel were relationships, trust, honesty, deception, power, greed, love, family, lies, suspicion, pride, innocence, and hatred without reason.

I purchased a copy of this novel. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date was October 11, 2022.

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