Miss Graham’s Cold War Cookbook

Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook

by Celia Rees
Genres: Fiction / Historical / 20th Century / World War II
Published on July 7, 2020
Pages: 511
Format: eBook Source: Library

World War II has just ended, and Britain has established the Control Commission for Germany, which oversees their zone of occupation. The Control Commission hires British civilians to work in Germany, rebuild the shattered nation and prosecute war crimes. Somewhat aimless, bored with her job as a provincial schoolteacher, and unwilling to live with her overbearing mother any longer, thirtysomething Edith Graham applies for a job with the Commission—but she is also recruited by her cousin, Leo, who is in the Secret Service. To them, Edith is perfect spy material...single, ordinary-looking, with a college degree in German. Cousin Leo went to Oxford with one of their most hunted war criminals, Count Kurt von Stavenow, who Edith remembers all too well from before the war. He wants her to find him.

Intrigued by the challenge, Edith heads to Germany armed with a convincing cover story: she's an unassuming Education Officer sent to help resurrect German schools. To send information back to her Secret Service handlers in London, Edith has crafted the perfect alter ego, cookbook author Stella Snelling, who writes a popular magazine cookery column. She embeds crucial intelligence within the recipes she collects. But occupied Germany is awash with other spies, collaborators, and opportunists, and as she's pulled into their world, Edith soon discovers that no one is what they seem to be. The closer she gets to uncovering von Stavenow's whereabouts--and the network of German civilians who still support him--the greater the danger. 

With a unique, compelling premise, Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook is a beautifully crafted and gripping novel about daring, betrayal, and female friendship.

I don’t like reading books about World War II. In fact, if a book is set during that time period I will usually not read it. I picked this book up though because of the twist on the typical World War II book.

The war is over. Now England is in the rebuilding phase in Germany. Edith Graham is a teacher in England who speaks fluent German. She is hired to help set up schools in bombed areas in Germany. Her side job is to be a spy.

This is a book about an interesting time that I don’t see written about often in historical fiction. The Allied Powers are fighting over the German scientists who they want to move to their countries. They are trying to whitewash reputations of criminals while others are trying to bring them to justice.

This book focuses on the women that history tends to ignore. Edith was recruited because she was a teacher. She was told to get to know the women. The women know the secrets. The male army officers didn’t think to question them so they would be doing sneaky things right under their noses. The censors didn’t think to question a woman sending home recipes to her friends. That’s just what women do, right?

This book definitely doesn’t shy away from atrocities that happened during the war. There aren’t a lot of happy endings for people – many of whom are being used as pawns by powers greater than them. It’s a tough book but it is an interesting look at this period of time in Germany.