Tracy Groot’s MAGGIE BRIGHT Keeps Readers Spellbound
I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of World War II documentaries on TV. We got a whole WWII unit in high school. So did my kids. These shows and classes can be overwhelming: So much evil. So many thousands of people over so many years.
Tracy Groot’s latest novel, Maggie Bright, takes the thousands and the years and the evil and creates a handful of characters who become as real as the people we work with every day.
I am so not surprised. This is what Groot does in every single novel: Drops the reader into a pivotal moment in history with her characters and does it with such intensity that I found myself forgetting what year it was when I looked up from the page. Oh, and she twists my heart into a coiled-up ball of fear and anxiety yelling at my brain to read faster.
Spring, 1940. Clare Childs’ yacht, Maggie Bright, is docked in an English harbor. When a vicar sneaks aboard and is caught, he refuses to reveal what he was searching for. An American comic-strip artist comes to help out the vicar, meets Clare, and together they discover appalling information about Hitler’s systematic murder of special needs children.
At the same time across the Channel, thousands of soldiers are evacuating to Dunkirk. Clare, the artist, a detective investigating the jailed vicar, and Clare’s 67-year-old companion Mrs. Shrewsbury (AKA The Shrew) are all about to play an integral part in Churchill’s call for all civilians to help rescue the trapped soldiers.
I rooted for them. For all of them. Even—especially—for the wounded soldier who could only quote lines from Milton. I’m still trying to talk my heart down from the climax. Tissues may have been involved. Groot’s skill recreated a 75-year-old incident from WWII with the same intensity as her many other historical novels.
…How formal that last sentence sounds. Let me try again. Groot’s characters are so vivid I kept expecting them to walk through my door and sit down to tell me more about their lives. Get a copy of Maggie Bright. Start it early in the day or you’ll be sleeping at your desk the following morning because you had to finish it no matter what the clock said. And keep a tissue handy. Just in case.