Wednesday, 17 October 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of Ike and Kay by James MacManus




Biographical fiction
1940s
Europe

In 1942, Kay Summersby’s life is changed forever when she is conscripted to drive General Eisenhower on his fact-finding visit to wartime London. Despite Eisenhower’s marriage to Mamie, the pair takes an immediate liking to each other and he buys Kay a rare wartime luxury: a box of chocolates. So begins a tumultuous relationship that, against all military regulation, sees Kay traveling with Eisenhower on missions to far-flung places before the final assault on Nazi Germany. The general does dangerously little to conceal his affair with the woman widely known as “Ike’s shadow,” and in letters Mamie bemoans his new obsession with “Ireland.” That does not stop him from using his influence to grant Kay citizenship and rank in the US army, drawing her closer still when he returns to America. When officials discover Eisenhower’s plans to divorce from his wife they threaten the fragile but passionate affair, and Kay is forced to take desperate measures to hold onto the man she loves… Based on the scandalous true story of General Eisenhower’s secret World War II love affair, Ike and Kay is a compelling story of love, duty, sacrifice, and heartbreak, set against the backdrop of the most tumultuous period of the twentieth century.”

Ike and Kay is the fictionalised account of the factual war time affair between married General Dwight Eisenhower and his assistant-turned-driver Kay Summersby; an affair which started in 1942 and came to an end after the conclusion of the war.

I didn’t know this detail about Eisenhower until I read the blurb for this book and found the story particularly interesting and well-told. The background is researched and fascinating, too, although there are some historical inaccuracies. From Eisenhower’s first arrival in Britain, his rise in rank to his war involvement in North Africa and Berlin, I learned a lot of minor and major detail about the military operations and about the person himself - Eisenhower.

I have to be honest as a caution to those reading this novel for the romance aspect – the blurb states: ‘The sweeping love story at the heart of the Second World War” yet I did not feel any empathy of emotional love between the two main characters. It is a war story about two people, not a ‘romance’ tale.

That caveat aside, it is worth reading as a work of historical fiction and will please those who appreciate something a little different to the usual World War II  stories.

© Christoph Fischer





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