The Spy and the Traitor

May’s book choice was The Spy and The Traitor by Ben Macintyre. The Pick was brought by Hetal.

Book Synopsis:

The celebrated author of A Spy Among Friends and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Cold War-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation’s communism as both criminal and philistine. He took his first posting for Russian intelligence in 1968 and eventually became the Soviet Union’s top man in London, but from 1973 on he was secretly working for MI6. 

For nearly a decade, as the Cold War reached its twilight, Gordievsky helped the West turn the tables on the KGB, exposing Russian spies and helping to foil countless intelligence plots, as the Soviet leadership grew increasingly paranoid at the United States’s nuclear first-strike capabilities and brought the world closer to the brink of war. Desperate to keep the circle of trust close, MI6 never revealed Gordievsky’s name to its counterparts in the CIA, which in turn grew obsessed with figuring out the identity of Britain’s obviously top-level source. Their obsession ultimately doomed Gordievsky: the CIA officer assigned to identify him was none other than Aldrich Ames, the man who would become infamous for secretly spying for the Soviets. 

Unfolding the delicious three-way gamesmanship between America, Britain, and the Soviet Union, and culminating in the gripping cinematic beat-by-beat of Gordievsky’s nail-biting escape from Moscow in 1985, Ben Macintyre’s latest may be his best yet. Like the greatest novels of John le Carré, it brings readers deep into a world of treachery and betrayal, where the lines bleed between the personal and the professional, and one man’s hatred of communism had the power to change the future of nations. 

Book Discussion:

Instead of having a corona outside, due to corona, we did a zoom meeting 🙁
Joining was Amy (not the dead one), Karie (the lacksiedaisy one), Jen (the prego one), Stella (the one of good hair) and me (the late one)
We didn’t talk about the book for long since there were no questions, but we all agreed that it was “seriously, this really happened” account.  If it was a movie, we would have been like, this could only happen in a movie…but, it happened for real!  Is the CIA and MI6 that stupid for missing things for so long.  So many things to memorize, codenames and signals.  Safeway bags and chocolate bars aside, we agreed that it started out slow but became a great read.  We were all awed by the actual influence Oleg had with thwarting a nuclear war.  The big question was if Oleg had told his wife, would she have gone with him????  Some thought yes, some no.  Everyone gave a thumbs up.
Jen got her doordash so left the call…it’s ok, she’s prego.
On to book picks….Suhanthi, Suhanthi, suhanthi (think Bueller).  Ok, no Suhanthi, so backup was Amy and thank goodness she remembered because none of us did.  Our first vote was 1 vote for each pick, same with second vote!  Third time’s the charm where Amy decides to end the ties and vote for the pick someone else already did. So the book pick for this month is The Last Mrs. Parrish.  We can read about the Kentucky blue people on our own time.
After so much voting, topics veered to school (to remote or not to remote) then teen romance, so much drama!  Karie suggested a new way of picking books for next month, but don’t ask me what cause I was already a bottle of wine down by then.
Was nice to catch up and hope that we can do this outdoors, in-person next month!

Where the Crawdads Sing

March 2019 Book:

Where the Crawdads Sing.                                                  Book Pick: Sondra

Book Synopsis:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Book Discussion:

The Dine and Opine ladies met at Krazy Fish. Apparently the meeting took place on Whiskey Night so the notes are a bit fuzzy. I, myself, was not in attendance so I will add my personal thoughts at the bottom of this post. Deciphering the notes shared here are some topics that where discussed:

Setting- Taking place in the Marsh of NC, how did that shape the novel? The descriptiveness of the marsh- was it helpful to those readers whom have never visited a marsh? If the area was not so remote- would she have been able to get away with her actions, and just living the way she did?

Education- The topic of how mean people where to her when she went to school. Do you think people should have been more understanding? Do you agree with her for not returning to school?

Demographics- The hierarchy that took place in the book. Where did she fall in the line? Why was she treated differently by different groups?

Time- Could you place a timeline on the book? When was this happening?

Friendships- Jumping and Mable are friendly and drawn to help her… why? Once thought was that they were all seen as outsiders.

Why did her mom leave?

How is Womanhood revealed throughout the novel?

Is Tate a good partner?

The book received a Thumbs Up all around! So Welcome to the Best Of list!!

Karie’s Thoughts:

Two words: UGLY CRY. I began reading this book and I was intrigued. I don’t think you need to have grown up in the Marsh to be able to connect with Kya. In society, as a whole, no matter where you are- there are hierarchies and I bet that even you have felt like an outsider. Reading about the struggle the siblings went through prior to escaping is not only heart-wrenching but fuses your own experiences with leaving a bad situation (Whatever that might have been) with Kya.

Reading the struggles Kya deals with regarding school, acceptance, loneliness and basic survival made me admire her strength and her stubbornness. When she choose to let people in, it was as if there was an innocence that captivated those around her. Almost a pureness. She was who she is. I think it must be refreshing to meet someone who is upfront and isn’t looking to “gain” anything. Just to be.

As I mentioned early… I started this post with 2 words, UGLY CRY. I haven’t ugly cried to a book in a long while. Oh- I have gotten misty eyed or cried a few gentle tears…. This book… I bawled. Like If I would have had on make-up- my face would have been washed away. I was reading this book while on Spring break with the family. One night everyone was going to bed. I wanted to read so I curled up in a chair with the reading lamp on and a glass of wine. I thought I would read perhaps just a chapter or two. Well, two chapters later I am crying (Trying not to wake anyone) and I poured myself another glass of wine. That night I finished the book (I was only about 1/4 to 1/3 into the book when I originally sat down). I finished. Sat the book down. Poured another glass of wine and went and sat on the balcony watching the waves (We were in Ft. Lauderdale) to just decompress afterwards.

I agree with the Thumbs up. This book is a wonderful read and I can’t wait to discuss it with others who have read this book. Did you read the book? Did you like it? Love it? Hate it? Let us know!