If you’re looking for a suspenseful, romantic, and quick read then pick up a copy of Red Joan by Jennie Rooney. If you like a little historical fiction, love affairs, war, and secrets in a novel, pick up a copy of Red Joan. I chose this novel for my second Random House Read for May and although it took me a bit to get into (in all fairness I was on vacation in Vancouver when I started to read it and therefore quite distracted) I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Joan’s voice is almost a whisper. ‘Nobody talked about what they did during the war. We all knew we weren’t allowed to.’
Joan Stanley has a secret.For fifty years she has been a loving mother, a doting grandmother and an occasional visitor to ballroom dancing and watercolour classes. Then one sunlit spring morning there is a knock on the door.
It would appear that Joan has quite a few secrets and each page lays the foundation for a new confession, a new realization. Going back and forth from past to present, you get swept up in Joan’s world and all of her secrets. You fall in love with Joan, you sympathize with her, and sometimes you want to shake her and tell her to stop being so naive. I don’t want to say too much about the plot of this novel because I don’t want to ruin it. I want you to get so into this novel that you’re hunched over on the edge of your bed wondering what will happen next. I want you to feel the same concern for Joan as I did. I want you to wonder about Leo — to be cautious of him but undeniably attracted to him. I want you to see the flashbacks happen in black-and-white. I want you to meet Max and enjoy every moment with him. I want you to remember what it was like to be 18 and have your whole life ahead of you.
…she finds that she can still remember the feeling of that year with absolute clarity; the breathless sensation brought on by the knowledge that if she didn’t go somewhere and do something then her lungs might actually burst out of her chest…She is eighteen years old and impatient to leave. There is no particular reason for this impatience other than an underlying sense of life happening elsewhere…” (page 12)
I want you to remember what it feels like to stand up for something, what it feels like to be honest, and what it feels like to do what you know in your heart is right.
I want you to get so into this novel that you don’t even hear your phone ring, just like I did.