Two former female spies, bound together by their past, risk everything to hunt down an infamous Nazi doctor in the aftermath of World War II—an extraordinary novel inspired by true events from the New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls
American Josie Anderson and Parisian Arlette LaRue are thrilled to be working in the French resistance, stealing so many Nazi secrets that they become known as the Golden Doves, renowned across France and hunted by the Gestapo. Their courage will cost them everything. When they are finally arrested and taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, along with their loved ones, a reclusive Nazi doctor does unspeakable things to Josie’s mother, a celebrated Jewish singer who joined her daughter in Paris when the world seemed bright. And Arlette’s son is stolen from her, never to be seen again.
A decade later the Doves fall headlong into a dangerous dual mission: Josie is working for U.S. Army intelligence and accepts an assignment to hunt down the infamous doctor, while a mysterious man tells Arlette he may have found her son. The Golden Doves embark on a quest across Europe and ultimately to French Guiana, discovering a web of terrible secrets, and must put themselves in grave danger to finally secure justice and protect the ones they love.
The Golden Doves (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible)
I seem to read a lot of World War II fiction, and every time I think I’ve read just about every aspect of the war and it’s aftermath, I read a new take on the war and have a new appreciation for the sacrifices the Greatest Generation made. The Golden Doves centers on two teenagers caught up in the French resistance; a second timeline follows the women seven years later and the fact that for some, the war never really ended.
I have to be honest: it took me a while to get into this book and I’m not sure why. The first couple of chapters just didn’t grab me but I persevered and soon I was hooked. I just had to know what happened to Josie and Arlette.
The book deals with the end of World War II and the fact that many Nazis were able to flee Germany for South American through a “ratline”. Many of those that escaped are scientists and doctors. Countries like the United States and Argentina turn a blind eye to the misdeeds of these men because they can be helpful to their own countries. There’s a whole community of former German scientists living in America, helping the government develop the H-bomb and making advances in medicine. There’s a race to get as many Germans as possible so the Russians don’t get their hands on them. On in particular is of interest, a Dr. Snow.
There are also plenty of flashbacks to the war, when Josie and Arlette are living in Paris and working for the resistance, sending coded messages back to England and earning a reputation as the Golden Doves. Arlette has the added complication of having an infant, the product of a tryst with a young German boy who signs up for the Hitler Youth. Arlette has no idea if he’s alive or dead. Everything is going well working for the resistance until it doesn’t, and the girls are captured and sent to Ravensbrook concentration camp for women only.
Arlette’s timeline brings her into 1952, where there’s still the deprivations of war being felt and she’s still in search of her son, who was taken from her at the concentration camp. She’s approached about a home for orphans in French Guiana where the people that run the facility think they’ve found her son. At first, she thinks this news is too good to be true, and then she realizes she has to take a chance in order to find out if her son is alive. But her Spidey-sense is going off about the man who runs the facility.
The mysteries of this book, how the two young women operated during the war, how they were captured and what life was like for them at the camp, the tracking down of Dr. Snow, the search for Arlette’s missing son and all the twists and turns kept me on the edge of my seat for the majority of the book. There’s a twist at the end that was unexpected and well done. The author’s notes at the end of the book tells more of the real-life story of the German ratline and how the Vatican helped thousands of Nazis escape to South America, and how the United States housed many scientists and doctors in exchange for their work in their field.
I’d have to give this book a solid 4.5 out of 5. Highly recommend!
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House-Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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