Spy

Spy

by Danielle Steel

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A young woman is caught up in a dangerous double life on behalf of her country during World War II in Danielle Steel’s thrilling new novel.
 
At eighteen, Alexandra Wickham is presented to King George V and Queen Mary in an exquisite white lace and satin dress her mother has ordered from Paris. With her delicate blond looks, she is a stunning beauty who seems destined for a privileged life. But fate, a world war, and her own quietly rebellious personality lead her down a different path.

By 1939, Europe is on fire and England is at war. From her home in idyllic Hampshire, Alex makes her way to London as a volunteer in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. But she has skills that draw the attention of another branch of the service. Fluent in French and German, she would make the perfect secret agent.

Within a year, Alex is shocking her family in trousers and bright red lipstick. They must never know about the work she does—no one can know, not even the pilot she falls in love with. While her country and those dearest to her pay the terrible price of war, Alex learns the art of espionage, leading to life-and-death missions behind enemy lines and a long career as a spy in exotic places and historic times.

Spy follows Alex’s extraordinary adventures in World War II and afterward in India, Pakistan, Morocco, Hong Kong, Moscow, and Washington, D.C., when her husband, Richard, enters the foreign service and both become witnesses to a rapidly changing world from post-war to Cold War. She lives life on the edge, with a secret she must always keep hidden.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399179457
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/26/2019
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 65
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with almost a billion copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Child’s Play, The Dark Side, Lost and Found, Blessing in Disguise, Silent Night, Turning Point, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; Pure Joy, about the dogs she and her family have loved; and the children’s books Pretty Minnie in Paris and Pretty Minnie in Hollywood.

Hometown:

San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

August 14, 1947

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Education:

Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Thinking back on it later, the summer of 1939 was the last “normal” summer Alexandra Wickham remembered. It had been five years since her celebrated first London “Season” at eighteen, an event her parents had anticipated with excitement and expectation since she was a little girl. She had looked forward to it as the experience of a lifetime, a defining moment when she would be presented at court with all the other daughters of aristocratic families. It was her official entry into society, and since 1780 when the first Queen Charlotte’s Ball was held by King George III to honor his wife, the purpose of “coming out” and being presented had been to allow aristocratic young ladies to catch the eye of future husbands. Marriage was supposed to be the result in a relatively short time. Although modern parents in the 1930s were less earnest about it, the hoped-­for outcome hadn’t changed.

Alex had been presented at court to King George V and Queen Mary, and had come out at Queen Charlotte’s Ball, in an exquisite white lace and satin dress her mother had had made for her by Jean Patou in Paris. With her height and delicate blond looks, Alex had been a stunning beauty, and she didn’t lack for suitors. Her older brothers, William and Geoffrey, had teased her mercilessly about being a debutante, and her subsequent failure to land a husband within the early months of the Season in London. Being at parties, balls, and social events was a major change for Alex, who had been horse-­mad, like the rest of her family, since her earliest childhood. She’d been taunted into being a tomboy by her brothers, as a matter of survival. Wearing elegant gowns every night, and proper dresses at every luncheon in London, had been tiresome and sometimes even hard work for her.

She’d made many friends among the other debutantes, and most of them had been engaged by the end of the Season, and married shortly after. Alex couldn’t imagine herself married to anyone at eighteen. She wanted to go to university, which her father thought unnecessary, and her mother inappropriate. Alex was an avid reader and student of history. A flock of diligent governesses had given her a thirst for knowledge and a love of literature, and honed her skills with watercolors and intricate embroidery and tapestry. Her own gift for languages had helped her learn French, German, and Italian almost flawlessly. She spoke French and German as well as she did English, which no one considered remarkable, and her Italian was almost as good. She enjoyed reading in French and German. She was also a graceful dancer, which made her a highly desirable partner at the balls she attended with her family.

But there was more to Alex than the quadrilles she danced effortlessly, her love of literature, and her gift for languages. She was what the men she met called “spirited.” She wasn’t afraid to voice her opinions, and had a wicked sense of humor. It made her a wonderful friend to her brothers’ male companions, but few of them could imagine marrying her, despite her beauty. Those who wanted to accept the challenge, Alex found fatally boring. She had no desire to be locked away in Hampshire where her parents’ manor house was located, doing needlepoint by the fire at night, like her mother, or raising a flock of unruly children, like her brothers had been. Maybe later, but surely not at eighteen.

The five years since her London Season in 1934 had flown by quickly, with Alex traveling abroad with her parents, riding in the local hunt or others she was invited to, visiting her friends who had married and even had several children by then, going to house parties, and helping her father on their estate. She had more interest in the land than her brothers, both of whom had fled to London. William, the oldest, led a gentleman’s life and had a passion for flying machines. Geoffrey worked at a bank, went to parties every night, and was known as a heartbreaker. Her brothers were in no hurry to marry either.

Geoffrey was twenty-­five, and William was twenty-­seven and went to air races in England and France at every opportunity. He was a proficient pilot. Alex thought her brothers had a lot more fun than she did. She was something of a prisoner of the rules of society, and what was considered appropriate for a woman. She was the fastest rider in the county, which irritated her brothers and their friends, and her gift for languages came in handy on their family travels. By twenty-­three, she had been to New York several times with her parents, and considered American men more liberal in their thinking and more fun than the Englishmen she’d met. She liked talking politics with her brothers and father, although they urged her not to do so at dinner parties, so she wouldn’t frighten the men who might want to court her. Her response to her brothers’ comments on the subject was sharp.

“I wouldn’t want a man who didn’t respect my opinions, or to whom I couldn’t speak my mind.”

“You’ll wind up a spinster if you don’t curb your tongue and your passion for horses,” Geoffrey warned her, but both of her brothers were proud of how brave she was, how intelligent, and how bold and clear in her thinking. Their parents pretended not to notice, but they were secretly concerned that she hadn’t found a husband yet, and didn’t seem to want one.

She listened to all of Hitler’s speeches in German on the radio, and had read several books about him. Long before the events of the summer of 1939, she had predicted that war would be inevitable. By that summer, her brothers and father agreed with her. It seemed unavoidable, and they were dismayed but not surprised when war was declared on September 3. They gathered to listen to King George’s speech on the radio, urging Britons everywhere to be strong and courageous and defend their country. Like most of the population, the Wickhams’ response was immediate. Both of Alex’s brothers enlisted in the RAF, William in the Fighter Command, which suited him as an ace pilot, and Geoffrey in the Bomber Command. There was no hesitation. They reported for duty and training shortly after, as did most of their friends. It was what was expected of them, and they went willingly.

Alex remained quiet about it for several weeks, and then startled her parents when she announced that she had joined the voluntary First Aid Nursing Yeomanry shortly after Willie and Geoff had left for training. Her parents had made their own decision about how to contribute to the war effort. Her father was past the age of enlisting, but they had volunteered to accept twenty children from London into their home. The evacuation of children from the cities was being encouraged, and many parents were eager to find safe homes for their children in the country. Alex’s mother, Victoria, was already busy preparing the building where they housed the household staff and stable hands. Their male staff would be greatly diminished by conscription anyway, and they had other quarters in the house for the women. They were setting up bunk rooms for the children. Three of the housemaids were going to help care for them, and two girls from the village, and two teachers from the local school were going to give them lessons. Victoria was going to teach them as well. She had been hoping that Alex would help her, but then Alex announced that she was going to London to drive lorries and ambulances, work as an aide in the local hospitals, and do whatever other assignments they gave her. Her parents were proud of her, but concerned about her being in London. Bombing raids were expected, and she would have been safer in the country, helping to take care of the children. The children the Wickhams would be housing were from poor and middle class backgrounds, and families all over the country were taking them in.

Alex had studied her options carefully before volunteering for the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. She could have joined the Women’s Voluntary Services to do clerical work, which didn’t interest her, or the Air Raid Precautions, or worked on a female pump crew for the fire service. The Women’s Voluntary Services was also organizing shelters, clothing exchanges, and mobile canteens. She could have joined the Women’s Land Army to be trained in agricultural work, about which she already knew a great deal from their estate, but Alex didn’t want to stay in Hampshire, and preferred to go to the city.

The Auxiliary Territorial Service offered more of what she hoped to do, with driving and general duties, but when she contacted them, they suggested clerical work, which would keep her cooped up in an office. She wanted more physical work. She had also spoken to the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, about deploying barrage balloons. But in the end the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry sounded as if it was the best suited to her skills, and they said there would be other opportunities for her once she joined.

Her brothers teased her about it when she wrote to them, and said they would keep an eye on her when they went to London. Her mother cried when she left Hampshire and made her promise to be careful, but she was already busy and had her hands full with the children billeted with them. The youngest was five, and the oldest was eleven, which Alex thought would be much harder work than whatever she would be assigned to do in London.

Customer Reviews

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Spy 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
KBrady 4 days ago
Barely got through it. Lovely ending but absolutely no espionage to match the title, at very least sugar coated snippets.
JamieS 8 days ago
This book is set during WWII, and when it starts we see that Alex making her debut and being expected to participate in all of the coming out parties. However, her spirit finds these social events to be boring and she wants more adventure. When the war starts Alex wants to do her part to support or help during the war, as her brothers, both pilots, are doing. When she is recruited to become a spy she begins to lead a double life.during this time she meets Richard and they fall in love an eventually marry after the war. However, her double life doesn't stop just because the war has ended. This book was a quick interesting read! Alex has much tragedy but also happiness as well. Although this does have romance in it, it also has history so keeps your attention! another quick read by the author! Thank you NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Doreena Silva 12 days ago
Thank you to Netgalley, Danielle Steel and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I found this to be an exciting and just plain heartwarming book about a strong woman. Loved the historical aspects of it as well. I was hoping for a little more suspense considering the subject matter and title, but regardless it was another good one for all especially fans of Danielle.
KrisAnderson_TAR 13 days ago
Spy by Danielle Steel takes readers through the life of Alex Wickham. When England entered the war, Alex joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomancy in London where she drove lorries. Alex knew French and German fluently which is how she captured the eye of the newly organized Special Operations Executive (SOE). Alex becomes a secret agent who goes on dozens of missions to aid England during the war. When the war ends, Alex finds a new way to serve her country. We follow Alex from London to India, Moscow, Morocco, Pakistan, Hong Kong and Washington D.C. I find Spy to be a captivating story that is rich in historical detail from World War II to India gaining its independence from the United Kingdom to the cold war in Moscow. Danielle Steel did a superb job on the research for this book. The historical details enrich the Spy and really bring it to life. I felt like I was there with Alex. Alex Wickham was a developed character who was intelligent, strong and lovely. I became engrossed in Spy which moved along at a fast pace. It is a realistic and emotional story. There are life’s normal high and low’s as well as the travesties that come from war. I like Danielle Steel’s writing style which makes a story engaging and easy to read. Spy has family, friendship, love, grief, adventure and secrets. I like where the author took the story plus the charming ending. Spy is fascinating tale with secret agents, exploding bombs, undercover missions, political uprisings, and surprising secrets.
TJReads 14 days ago
I have enjoyed Danielle Steel’s books before and was so looking forward to this historical venue. Unfortunately, this was not one of my favorites. This story starts out with a bang while we get acquainted with Alex, Richard, her brothers and their contributions to the war. This is not the first book I’ve read on the recruiting of women for specific jobs and espionage activities during WWII and it is amazing these women stepped up to the plate and accomplished so much. I really enjoyed the first part of the book. But about 50% in, the war is over and we go into a slow laid-back journey of following Alex and Richard’s lives. Not much happens after that, I kept reading knowing that something was going to break open but it didn’t. This one was almost like two different authors wrote the book. I was given the opportunity to receive this book from Random House Publishing Group through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This one gets 3 ½ stars rounded up to 4.
Joycerl 14 days ago
Danielle Steel was the first grownup book I ever read.I don’t remember the name of the book but I know I had my nose buried in it for a whole day.Now I’m in my 40’s and Ms Steel still has that hold on me. This was a wonderful romp through history.This book follows the life of Alexandra Wickham starting from her being a spy in World War II through her travels with her husband to many countries where she continues reporting to MI6. Love the history of each place she travels to whether it’s war or peacetime in that country. Absolutely wonderful book. Thankyou Netgalley for an ARC
GGGeiss 14 days ago
I usually refrain from reading Danielle Steel novels. I decided to read this one after perusing some reviews. I will say the book was entertaining. The parts, during the war, were intriguing and the parts, after the war, felt like I was on a freight train going at a high speed and not knowing when the next station stop would appear or when “the next shoe would drop.” . Four years would go by in a couple of chapters. I felt as if the author wanted to get us to the end with as much information as she could possibly pack into all the lives of all the characters, I can’t recommend this read. Thank you Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review this ARC
Peppyob 15 days ago
I have not read a Danielle Steel novel in ages. In the past, I found her books to be somewhat lacking in substance and in the realm of mass market fiction. I am a lover of historical fiction and after reading the synopsis of Spy, thought I’d give it a whirl. I am glad I did. This novel is well written and is well researched. Spy is a rewarding and enjoyable read. In 1939, Alex Wickham is a young woman who comes from a patriotic upper class British family and has led a life of privilege. After discovering her talent for foreign languages, the British SOE recruits Alex to become an agent for them. For the duration of WW ll she successfully undertakes several perilous assignments for them. After the war she marries her wartime sweetheart RAF pilot, Richard Montgomery who has taken a job in the British diplomatic core. M16 recruits Alex to work for them when her husband firsts serves in India to help coordinate the independence and partition process. This proves to be a very trying time for Alex and Richard. She continues to work for them throughout all his diplomatic assignments in various parts of the world. Along her journey throughout WWll and postwar, Alex deals with several heartbreaking personal tragedies. She proves to a strong,resilient woman. Her tenacity for life and her job is second to none. In Alexandria Wickham, Danielle Steel has created a memorable character which I greatly admire.
Anonymous 15 days ago
I have read Danielle Steel books since I was a teenager. The last dozen books or so have felt like either she was rambling and repeating herself over and over OR the book seemed rushed. This book is old school Danielle Steel. This is the story of Alexandra Wickman. She lived a life of privilege, being presented in Queen Mary's Court. Then Hitler came to power and Alex, along with her two brothers, William and Geoff, join the fight against Germany. Alex volunteers in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry but soon her superiors realize that she is over qualified for driving lorries thanks to her amazing language skills. What happens after that is too good to spoil but this book covers her lifetime and how she leads her life after the war. I felt that the last few chapters spanned too many decades but I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH!
Reader4102 15 days ago
Alexandra Wickham’s future had been decided long before she reached eighteen. She knew she’d be presented at Court, choose a husband, and retire to the countryside to raise her children. It was not what she wanted. She wanted to attend college like her two older brothers, but her father thought that was nonsense. She was saved from her fate when the Germans invaded Poland and started WWII. After several months as a lorry driver, she was recruited into a super-secret government program to spy for Britain. Steel takes her time developing this story. Nothing is rushed, nothing is ignored. She develops her characters in such a way her readers know them and like them almost from the start of the book. Despite that, this is a page turner, and one that is sure to keep you reading into the early hours of the morning. Her descriptions of war-torn Britain, from the bombing of London for days on end to the rationing of food and clothing, the reader feels the fear of the bombings and the deprivation of food rationing. If you are a fan of historical fiction, you’ll love this book. If you aren’t, give this one a try because it is a well-told tale of the sacrifices thousands of people have made to keep their countries safe. In either case, this book deserves to be near the top of your to-be-read list. My thanks to Delacorte and NetGalley for an e-ARC.
gypsygrandmatv 15 days ago
In the years before WWII Alex Wickham was presented at court. When war started she became a volunteer ambulance driver in London....this is her story and of her 30 years as a spy....6 years with the SOE during the war and 24 years with MI6, as a diplomat's wife and a mother. Meticulously researched this is an interesting look at dangerous time in history. I especially enjoyed reading about her years in the SOE. Unfortunately the second half of the book was a bit dry and almost read as a history textbook. I did enjoy her husband Richard's reaction when after 30 years she was finally able to tell him what she had been doing the whole time. I haven't read a Danielle Steel book in a long time...in fact I was surprised to see that she had written an historical fiction book, so that when I saw it offered by Netgalley I was excited when I was accepted to receive an early copy to read and review. If you enjoy historical fiction, especially WWII and the Cold War years I recommend this book.
Denice_L 15 days ago
In her books, Danielle Steel introduces us to a cast of characters and gives us their life's journey, with all the ups and downs that follow them. In this story line, a young American woman leaves home to volunteer for the WWII war effort in England. She is soon recruited to spy for the Allies, in which she excels. The story follows her during the war and living abroad afterwards. Ms Steel always shares her characters and their lives as if we are reading their diary and the news of the time. You feel part of the story. Another 5 star reading experience!
Rachel_Denise01 15 days ago
Spy by Danielle Steel is an excellent historical fiction novel that introduces us to the intriguing character of Alexandra (Alex) Wickham. It almost reads as a biography of sorts and begins when Alex is a teen growing up with her parents and brothers in Hampshire, England beginning around 1939. The book proceeds to give us an unraveling of a fascinating life that unfolds for Alex through the years of WWII and her eventual involvement with SOE, her missions and day to day life during that time, as well as the tragedies that take place as well. It also covers her sweet romance and beginnings with RAF squadron leader, Richard, and what would end up being their 54 year marriage. The “second” part of the book (in my mind) is post-war and the travels, triumphs, and tragedies that Alex experiences while traveling to: India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Soviet Union, and Washington DC as Richard is part of the foreign ambassador office and Alex is part of MI6. I loved reading about her relationship, her family, and her granddaughters afterwards as well. I enjoyed Alex, Richard, and her family. It was interesting to have a peak inside what life was like during those volatile years of WWII and post-war/Cold War, and some of the clandestine and “organized” British military endeavors that occurred. I feel as if Alex was an honest, honorable, likable, and truly genuine character, that to me, seemed very real thanks to the imagery that was given by Ms. Steel. Remarkable. I truly enjoyed the ending and feel as if it came full circle and left the reader with the knowledge that Alex has many more adventures and chapters to write in her life story. This is a great novel that I did not want to end. 5/5 stars
MicheleReader 15 days ago
I enjoyed Spy very much. The story of a young British aristocrat spending WWII as a spy for the SOE and then her life as an MI6 spy living around the globe during important times in each country’s history proved interesting. I found her life and missions during WWII the most intriguing as her time spent in India, Pakistan, Morocco, Hong Kong, Moscow and Washington, DC seemed to fly by. It covered a lot of ground for a book under 300 pages and therefore, each section after WWII did not dig very deep but that was fine with me. This was a strong effort for the incredibly versatile Ms. Steel. It has what her fans, myself included, want. A smart, strong female character, a love match worthy of the lead and lots of adventure. And it has a beautiful cover as well. Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House – Ballantine and Ms. Steel for an advance copy of this book.
MKF 16 days ago
Alex, a woman from an important British family who later marries Richard, who later becomes an Ambassador, actually works first for the SOE and then for MI6. The first half is about her work during WWII and the second is more or less vignettes set in world capitals where she serves with her husband. This is a short novel which could have (should have) been much longer. That said, this is very much classic Steel- the romance is more important than the espionage work but that's ok. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. For Steel fans.