Berlin Calling

Written by Kelly Durham
Review by India Edghill

In 1938 Berlin, Irish-American Maggie O’Shea falls in love with a German soldier, and into a job at an English-language radio station. As the country heads down the road to war, Maggie enjoys life in what seems to her a newly vibrant country that only wants peace and all its ethnically German citizens back in a greater Germany. And when the well-known radio announcer, who gives propaganda speeches aimed at England and America, is too drunk to go on the air one evening, Maggie steps in to broadcast in his stead. Maggie is a hit, and becomes a favorite of the Propaganda Ministry for her pro-German broadcasts; Goebbels himself supports her new career, and uses her broadcasting skills to try and persuade the American people to stay out of Europe’s political affairs.

As Hitler’s aims become increasingly hard to explain away as peaceful, Maggie finds herself torn between her fondness for Germany and its people and her doubts about its leadership. Nor can she deny her new love for a co-worker, even though she finds it hard to disentangle herself from her previous lover. Her life becomes even more complicated when Hitler’s policies lead inevitably to war; because of her on-air popularity and closeness to Goebbels, American intelligence recruits her as a double agent. As Maggie’s professional and personal lives both spiral out of control, she attempts to reconcile her divided loyalties—and stay one step ahead of arrest.

This novel is well-written and well-researched, but I found I just couldn’t like the characters and had to force myself to finish it. However, it’s definitely a “your mileage may vary” book with an interesting setting, so if you’re a fan of WW2 fiction, give it a try.