A historical tale that reimagines European politics between the world wars from the perspective of a new, young Member of Parliament.
Englishwoman Jennie Lee is only 24 years old when she’s elected to Parliament in 1929as a member of the Labour Party, but her age belies her impressive political intellect. She’s fierce in her convictions and unafraid to speak her mind, particularly regarding her socialist political leanings. Yet, with fascism on the rise, Jennie is discomfited by how socialist ideals are being warped to aid tyrannical political parties. When her friend Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons, the Duchess of York, clandestinely reveals documents that tie the British government to Benito Mussolini and men who financially back Adolf Hitler, Jennie realizes that this knowledge gives her the power to change the course of history. Rosenberg, the author of Autumn in Oxford (2016), expertly weaves Jennie’s tenacity in the political sphere with her romantic life over the course of the novel. Her outspokenness and attractiveness lead to many dalliances with colleagues, and the romantic subplots are a welcome addition to the story, alleviating any potential stuffiness from the government-heavy plotline. Jennie’s relationship with Member of Parliament Frank Wise, especially, contributes to the development of her character and highlights more than just her political fervor. Additionally, Rosenberg’s prose is expressively descriptive and direct, making the story accessible to readers who may not be very familiar with the inner workings of Parliament. Many of Rosenberg’s characters are based on real people, which will be a bonus for fans of political history. The story does run a bit long and has moments in which the action seems slower. On the whole, however, Rosenberg provides a history of the interwar years that’s gripping enough that readers will forgive these trespasses.
An often captivating tale of one politician’s experience during the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe.