Category Archives: W&N Publishers
Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter by Robert Hutton
Delighted to share my thoughts on the story of the MI5 agent at the very heart of Operation Fifth Column, which was the covert WWII operation that was to flush out Nazi sympathisers on British Soil.
Just a few words on what the book is about: June 1940 and Britain stands alone as Hitler eyes his next prize across the channel. Codenamed ‘Jack King’ Eric Roberts who was a former Bank Clerk from Epsom in Surrey. He was recruited into MI5 and then went on to become Hitler’s man in London. This whole operation has only recently come to light. In Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Wartime Nazi Hunter Robert Hutton goes on to tell the story through newly declassified documents and private family archives.
The enemy within during the war was a fear at the heart of the government getting to know who they were and then infiltrate them was key to identifying the key players and also the spies who would pass on information to their spy masters in Berlin.
Author Robert Hutton must be congratulated for his well-researched book that is an incredible read that delves deep into this story of Eric Roberts.
It is hard to imagine that even when that dreadful Oswald Mosely was taken out circulation that there ordinary Britons willing to work for the Nazis and put this country at real risk of invasion.
Eric Roberts hailed from Cornwall and was spotted by spymaster Maxwell Knight. Roberts was nothing short of brave as he set about infiltrating British Union of Fascists at any time he could have caught out and then what? It was later that he rose through the ranks. This an ordinary bank clerk. Nothing short of remarkable.
As the war went on, it was decided the best way to play them was to set up their own ‘Fifth Column’ and so it was the under the name of ‘Jack King’ Eric Roberts played his best part.
‘Jack King’ was to play the Nazi’s man in London pretending to be the link and the key to the very heart of Nazi Germany. Hard to imagine that here in Briton as men and women risking their lives to destroy the Nazis that there were those who believed in the Nazi cause and wanted see their own country defeated. These were the vile anti-Semitic Nazi sympathisers that Eric was infiltrating. This was dangerous work at any time he could have been found out and almost certain death awaited. It was indeed that ‘Jack’ already being eyed as an MI5 spy and her name was Marita Perigoe who was in her own right an extremely dangerous woman who was very suspicious of ‘Jack King’ These were the people plotting against their own country passing vital information to the Gestapo but plotting Churchill’s downfall. These were the enemy within and needed to be brought to justice but at the end of the war were they indeed brought to justice. There are some surprising findings and facts that even opened my eyes while reading this riveting account.
At the end of the story the country owed Eric Roberts a great deal but did he get the rewards he deserved. I won’t reveal that here as I think this is one book that finally opens the story of a man with a smile that opened doors and revealed many secrets.
Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter by Robert Hutton was published by W&N and was published on 6th September 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Reading Cure: How Books Restored my Appetite by Laura Freeman
Laura Freeman is a freelance writer and has written for magazines and newspapers such as The Spectator, Standpoint, The Times, TLS, and Slightly Foxed to name but a few. Laura has recently released her first book and what a read this really turned out to be. Not hard to see why I have always enjoyed reading Laura’s writing. The Reading Cure: How Books Restored my Appetite is a memoir. Laura at the age of fourteen was diagnosed anorexia and his is her story, a journey of how books and reading helped her on her road to recovery.
I know at first hand as a family member suffered from anorexia for many years with little or no help apart from the love of her family around her. For Laura Freeman like all who have suffered from anorexia, they come to loathe themselves and will avoid eating and any situations that will involve food. For more than fifteen years Freeman has been a recovering from this dreadful illness. There was one part of Freeman’s life that she continued to enjoy and that was her love of literature and through reading she discovered food and learned to start enjoying food through the pages of her favorite books.
The journey to recovery is never an easy journey to take and not always a successful one as she writes in her memoir, Laura’s mother fought very hard to keep her out of a clinic and looked after her while on bedrest at home. she read Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man and this tells of him devouring boiled eggs and cocoa. So this was the beginning of the road to recovery for Laura Freeman. Then she progressed onto Dickens and we all know of how well food is talked of in Dicken’s novels. From here she clearly could see that there was a better life to be had.
Freeman writes just beautifully and it is inspiring. She openly talks of her younger life and how her anorexia started and the chaos that her life became, her descriptions of food are just bountiful that you can almost taste the fare on offer. Freeman’s joy of literature and reading is there to be enjoyed and to rejoice at. The optimism of how she copes on her journey is just breathtaking. This is her story of hunger and also obsession, there is happiness here to. The Reading Cure is a brave account of her recovery. Books and reading can cure. Here is the proof if it was ever needed moving and evocative. Delighted to recommend The Reading Cure by Laura Freeman.
Thank you to Rebecca Fincham and Weidenfeld & Nicolson for the advanced review copy of The Reading Cure: How Books Restored my Appetite by Laura Freeman.
The Reading Cure: How Books Restored my Appetite by Laura Freeman is published by and was published on and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North
Review Date: 22 November 2015
Author: Anna North
Release Date: 11 February 2016
Publishers: W&N Publishers
ISBN –10: 1474601251
ISBN – 13: 978-1474601252
Available in Paperback, Kindle and audio
The Last Word Review
Anna North has written one of the books of 2016. It is haunting, gripping at every turn of a page
Not officially released in paperback format until February 2016 so I am grateful to Sam Eades at Orion Books for an advanced review copy ahead of publication.
The first thing that you get from The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is the cover. There is something chilling about this. A foretaste of what is to come.
Anna North has written a chilling novel about a peculiar woman and that is basically what she is here. This is written by six people who know her best. Each through their own perspective. When she was younger she spent most of her childhood alone or in the company of her brother. At college she took an interest in directing movies and this is where she became successful. But success has its pitfalls only Sophie knows all too well.
When as book is written through the perspectives of other people there is a chance that the reader can become distant from the actual story itself, but Anna North has written this so skilfully and exquisite that I struggle to find the words to tell you just how good this really is.
Each of their stories is told in reasonably short chapters which I found really helps keep the story moving along. When you look at the people who tell their story, you get a glimpse of the genius that is Sophie but one that is on the very edge of sanity and so close to an abys basically one very cold young woman.
While writing about The Life and Death of Sophie Stark I am reminded of a long dark tunnel with the occasional glimpse of light that shines through. Sophie had a troubled childhood with her father dying and a mother that in a sense went missing. There is sense that this story may at times drag the reader into a dark recess but this is the beauty of this story it is dark at times. A story that talks of stalking and retribution. Sophie’s obsession is Daniel so she starts filming him and so it begins, retribution. So it does not end there as Sophie embarks on making documentaries of those close to her. I found Sophie not only cold but totally selfish, single minded to the point that she did not care about feelings and not caring about anyone, they were there to be used in her pursuit of excellence. Don’t get me wrong here, Sophie has enormous talent by the bucket full, even those telling the stories will tell you this through their words.
Word of warning Sophie was not born Sophie. All that changed as you will find out for yourselves when you read The Life and Death of Sophie Stark and you will want to read novel by Anna North. There is so much in this book that I would recommend that reading groups seriously consider adding it to their list of books to read and discuss. Everyone will have an opinion about Sophie and the characters she uses. All human with the frailties of human life all struggling with every day’s trials and tribulations but it is the way they have been beautifully portrayed by the author makes this such a haunting and gripping read.
Do not miss this one.
Meet the Author
Anna North graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 2009, having received a Teaching-Writing Fellowship and a Michener/Copernicus Society Fellowship. Her fiction has appeared in Nautilus, Glimmer Train, the anthology Robot Uprisings, and the Atlantic Monthly, where it was nominated for a National Magazine Award. Her nonfiction has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Paris Review Daily, Jezebel, BuzzFeed, and Salon, and she is now a staff editor at the New York Times. Her first novel, America Pacifica, was published in 2011 by Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown, and her second novel, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, is forthcoming from Blue Rider Press in May 2015. She grew up in Los Angeles, and lives in Brooklyn.