Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Red Joan

Red Joan / Jennie Rooney, 390 p.

Inspired by the true story of an English spy for the Soviets who was unmasked at the age of 87.  Joan studies physics at Cambridge in the 30s and meets charismatic cousins Leo and Sonya, Russian-born and dedicated to the Communist cause.  Joan is sympathetic to the ideology but is also entranced by her new friends.  During the war she takes a job in a secret lab dedicated to producing a British atomic bomb, and gradually Joan succumbs to her friends' pressure to help the Russians obtain their own weapon.  Well plotted and told, but the science reads at a middle-school level, making it hard to believe that Joan could really be a scientist.  There is also one historical howler: Rooney apparently believes that it was Hoover who dropped the bomb rather than the man from Missouri.  Otherwise very enjoyable historical fiction and soon to be a film starring Judi Dench.

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