Title: The War Pianist
Publisher: 16th February 2023 by Avon Books UK
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: historical fiction, WWII
My Rating: 5 cups
Pianist: NOUN. Informal. A person who operates or controls a radio transmitter – often in code.
Blitz-ridden London: Marnie Fern’s life is torn apart when her grandfather is killed in an air raid. But once she discovers that he’d been working undercover as a radio operative – or Pianist – for the Dutch resistance, Marnie knows she must complete his mission – no matter the cost…
Nazi-occupied Amsterdam: At the other end of the wireless, fellow pianist Corrie Bakker is caught in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse as she desperately tries to keep her loved ones out of the line of fire – even if it means sacrificing herself…
Bound together by the invisible wires of their radios, the two women lead parallel lives in their home cities, as both are betrayed by those they trust the most. But when the Nazis close in on one of them, only the other can save her…
‘… when the streets outside are layered in dust and debris, as if Hitler has shaken the contents of a giant vacuum cleaner bag across Britain’s capital.’
I have read and loved all of Mandy’s books and I believe her latest offering, The War Pianist, may very well be one of her best! As always Mandy offers her readers a story packed with everything historical fiction readers love - espionage and betrayal, to plights and flights whether it be in blitz ridden London or Nazi occupied Amsterdam.
‘… a mesh of letters and numbers … the vital work of a radio ‘pianist’ with nimble fingers … this fleeting stream of dots and dashes spells out ‘hope’ in her mind.’
There is never any doubt on the amount of research Mandy undertakes for her books. I learnt so much as I had never heard of radio operators being referred to as ‘pianists’ for their lightning finger movement in sending coded messages in quick time so as their position may never be compromised. Mandy’s war stories come alive off the page as she makes each and everyone of her characters someone you care about. You not only see the rubble in the streets of London but you feel the fear as Nazi boots are heard approaching on the streets of Amsterdam. Mandy’s writing is so vivid that despite all the knowledge readers bring, she still can invoke fear and shock as events play out.
‘Only inside are you allowed to die and scream and pummel your heart back into life and weep into your WVS tea, which swills alongside the swallowed-back tears.’
The story is brilliantly paced with twists and turns, with courage and bravery and with a touch of romance (shout out to the Jane Austen references, “Darcy to her Lizzy”.) Told from multiple points of view, Mandy’s writing is sure to hook you especially as Marnie is just an ordinary person like many of us and therefore so relatable in her thoughts and actions. Congratulations Mandy on yet another winning book. I have read and adored all your books and recommend them highly to all lovers of historical fiction.
‘Is she strong enough to withstand it? Equally, can she walk away and pretend this doesn’t exist?’
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.