Jubilee: Spies and Raiders of Normandy (The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare Series)

Written by Conor Bender
Review by Aidan K. Morrissey

Jubilee tells the fictional story of English secret agent, Arthur Cutter; French Resistance fighter, Talia; American RAF pilot, Ian Faraday; and a host of other characters set against the backdrop of Operation Jubilee in 1942. Interestingly, the author has chosen the peripheral landing at Orange Beach for his storyline and not the main attacks. The Canadians are barely mentioned, despite 85% of the Allied force being made up of Canadian units and 80% of the fatalities.

Cutter has to deal with killing both friend and foe on his way to finding love under fire. There are some compelling fight scenes both on the ground and in the air; however, much of the action feels as if it was happening under modern warfare conditions and not in the France of August 1942.

Bender’s writing style is easy to read; there is a very good story arc with some good character development. A number of different story lines are brought together in the final scenes. However, the book is let down from a lack of detailed research, particularly with regard to England in the 1940s. There is an almost farcical episode in an English pub where Bender shows a complete lack of knowledge of the English monetary system, switching between pre- and post- decimalisation and turns ‘a few quid’ into ‘five bob.’ Also, he uses everyday American language in speech by English characters, ‘within four blocks’ and ‘interdict’ in place of ‘intercept’ being just two examples. He repeatedly uses ‘Flying Lieutenant’ instead of ‘Flight Lieutenant,’ which grated. Space does not allow a full list of the mistakes in historicity. Errors of this type can make the reader doubt the veracity of other elements of the novel. This is a pity, as the research on the Dieppe Raid itself is commendable.