Cover Image: A Beautiful Spy

A Beautiful Spy

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Minnie Gray longs to escape her mundane life in Edgbaston where the only excitement in her life is accompanying her mother to another tedious event. Employed as a typist, Minnie yearns for something more substantial than being a wife and mother, and so when she is approached by a contact to work for the British government as a spy she grabs the opportunity to  do sometime worthwhile for her country. 

What then follows is an interesting espionage story which sees Minnie become embroiled in the Communist movement, and with the political landscape of Europe about to change, her time spent undercover is fraught with both danger and intrigue. Based on the true story of Olga Gray, a British agent recruited by Maxwell Knight in 1932 to infiltrate the Friends of the Soviet Union, this clever mix of blending fact and fiction is done with a fine eye for political detail, and a clever understanding of the historical background to this tumultuous time in world history.

Keeping a fictional story so closely linked with factual evidence brings a genuine authenticity to the narrative and the author does a great job of building up the tension and showing the unease and trepidation involved in leading such a dangerous and, at times, exciting double life. The story is a little bit slow at the start but then as Minnie becomes more involved in the challenges ahead of her, it all starts to flow well. I enjoyed learning more about Minnie’s life, she is an interesting protagonist, determined to live life her own way and yet there’s a vulnerability to her which makes her character all the more fascinating.

Beautifully written, and impeccably researched, A Beautiful Spy is a cleverly controlled espionage story which brings to life the uncertainty of living in a time of political, and emotional, turmoil.
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I love Rachel Hore's books and this was no exception.  As you come to expect, this was beautifully written and the reader is drawn into the story.

Based on a true story ... I found this  really interesting and absorbing.  I suppose that we mainly think of spies being in enemy territory but here, we have Minnie Gray, the girl next door who because of a chance meeting at a party, finds herself escaping her humdrum life and falling without really understanding into the spy game.  By staying in the background but making herself indispensible, slowly over quite a few years, she finds herself building an undercover life.  A slow burn read but I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a lot about an era that I was unfamiliar with.

Thank you to Net Galley for a free advance copy in exchange for an honest review
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Rachel Hore's A Beautiful Spy tells us the story of an ordinary young woman from Edgbaston, who changes her destiny by working as a spy for the British Government. Young Minnie is expected to get married, start a family, and live happily in the role of a house-wife. But she has other plans. She doesn't want to live an ordinary life, with no excitement. So when a friend offers the chance to be something more and work for a cause, she jumps at the opportunity. Minnie is recruited by MI5 as a spy to monitor the activities of the communists in London. She works with all of her heart and puts all of her efforts into being the best agent possible. Slowly the stress of leading her double life takes a toll on her and makes it impossible to work. With the dangers of her being exposed, she needs to manage her career and keep the mask in place. Will she succeed? Is she going to be in danger from the communists?                  

Overall, I wasn't happy with the book. I wanted to like the character and connect with her. It didn't happen. So, this is more of a personal preference. I have seen a lot of people say good things about this book. My issue was mainly the execution of the story and I didn't connect with the character much. I gave the book 2.5 stars and I am really disappointed I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. Having said that, don't let my rating be the reason you don't pick it up. If you like historical fiction and character-driven stories, make sure to check this one out. The story is inspired by a real-life spy and her involvement in the takedown of Percy Glading in the 1930s.
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An amazing story, completely engaging!

Minnie Gray is a normal young woman, a secretary living at home with her mother. Convention dictates that she meets a man and settles to being a housewife and mother. However, Minnie wants more and her chance comes when she is approached to work for the British Government - as a spy. Without divulging what's really going on to anyone, Minnie moves to London, finding a job and a flat, then starts attending Communist party meetings with the aim of finding out their secrets. As she is accepted and begins to prove her worth, the secrecy begins to wear her down and her health suffers along with her relationship. Well aware of how the Russian's react to infiltrators, Minnie is in a constant state of worry and despair. Can she complete her mission?

I had no idea until I had completed this novel that it was based on fact; and that makes it even more astounding. I can honestly say I've never read another book quite like this, and it pulled me in from the very first. Such a smooth telling of a riveting tale made this an incredible read and one which kept me hooked from the very beginning to the final word. For anyone who thinks all spies are James Bond, this is a must read. Rachel Hore has excelled herself with her latest novel creating a beautifully written attention-grabbing read which I found very hard to put down. A stunning story, and one I'm extremely happy to both recommend and give all five sparkling stars.

My thanks to the publisher for my copy via NetGalley; this is - as always - my honest, original and unbiased review.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an early review copy. 

I loved reading this book. 

It had so much in it, was hooked in wanting to know what happens next. I loved the character if Minnie, her dilemmas about her work and home. 

I didn’t know it was based on true incidents and then I didn’t want it to end - wanted it to go on and read more of the story. 

I absolutely enjoyed it.
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Minnie Gray is going to be one of my favourite book characters. In 1928, she knows her own mind and it doesn’t involve settling down just because everyone expects it. Minnie is looking to make a difference to the world, and through a chance encounter, she finds herself in a very different world.

When we think of a spy, of course, we tend to think of James Bond. We never see him wrestling with trying to keep the very different elements of his life apart or find out how emotionally draining it is to keep so many secrets, or to miss out on having proper friendships with work colleagues and neighbours.

I enjoyed the way this story was written, so that we could understand the emotions Minnie felt during the various stages of her journey from living in Edgbaston, travelling to India and appearing in court. She had to deal with a large number of changes and secrets without very little help. I also loved the ending of the book, which reminded me how spirited Minnie is. A fascinating book that I will be awarding 5 star reviews to
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An interesting story based on a true life story. Starts in the late 1920s, Minnie Grey is a young and beautiful woman who is looking for more in her life. A chance meeting leads to her agreeing to become an agent for MI5, undercover and reporting on Communist activities in Britain. Much of what she did was very mundane and not particularly exciting. As a trained typist she completed admin tasks, slowly becoming accepted by those she worked with. Her relationship with her handler is interesting- he was clearly very charming and an unusual character. This story really highlights the strain that working undercover can put on a person. The continual watching and trying not to get caught out. The story itself has a bit of a slow start, much like the life of an undercover agent, but the fact that it is based on a real woman definitely makes it more interesting.
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A very readable account of how it really is to be a spy.  Not all glamour and secret assignations but worry and grind and living a lie and for what?  I liked that the bad boy Commies were not portrayed as just that but as human beings with strong beliefs who treated women as equals.  I enjoyed this, wasn't wowed by it but Rachel Hore always writes a good story and I was intrigued by the real-life aspects of this account.
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Absolutely thrilling, previous books of Rachel’s have had a dual timeline which I enjoy so I was slightly disappointed that this one didn’t but it had so much in it,  I really liked Minnie and felt for her with  her home and work dilemmas and then discovered it was based on a true story , I didn’t want it to end and wanted more.
Thank you for the opportunity to read this book.
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Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all. She is working as a secretary but longs to make a difference. Then, one day, she gets her chance. She is recruited by the British government as a spy. Under strict instructions not to tell anyone, not even her family, she moves to London and begins her mission – to infiltrate the Communist movement.

This is such a well rounded, researched, spy story with the correct elements of history involved. The book is a very enjoyable read, has excellent detail, and does have an element of suspense. This was my first read by this author and one I would read from again.
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This historical read is based on the real life of Olga Gray, a British Intelligence Spy. Set in the 1930s this is an insightful and fascinating story from one of my favourite authors. The main character,  known as Minnie, is in her twenties, a typist and living with her mother. She is a woman who didn’t want an ordinary life filled with marriage and children and when offered the opportunity of being an undercover agent she grabbed it with both hands. Moving to London and gaining her independence she puts her life at risk, undertaking difficult and dangerous work, as she infiltrated the communist movement. With a hint of romance this is a beautiful, captivating and atmospheric read. Well researched with excellent attention to detail.
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A Beautiful Spy is an enthralling novel based on a true story. Minnie Gray works as a secretary in an ordinary job before a chance encounter at a party leads her into the world of espionage. Despite making great personal sacrifices, she is successful in infiltrating the communist party in the 1930’s while working for Max. Her family were completely unaware of her double life despite the immense stress she was under.

This is a fascinating story which goes into great detail regarding the operation of espionage before the Second World War. Minnie leads an exceptional life and shows great bravery  in order to do her bit. A well researched and gripping novel.
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"Minnie Gray is an ordinary young woman.
She is also a spy for the British government..Minnie is supposed to find a nice man, get married and have children. The problem is it doesn’t appeal to her at all." 

Minnie meets an enigmatic man called 'Max' who enlists her as a spy under the umbrella of the M branch to go undercover to find out information about the Communist party in 1930s London. It follows her journey of friendship, doubt and growth  over several years through pre-WW2 Europe and across the seas to Bombay.  She faces the challenges of hiding secrets from her loved ones who don't understand the choices she makes as she navigates her way into the inner workings of the very party she is gathering information on. 

The writing is excellent, and really mirrors the tense, almost Cold War-like stance Minnie must take in order to fulfill her duty to her country. 

I really enjoyed this book. Rachel Hore is an author I have always enjoyed in the past and was very excited to get a pre-release copy  It is set in pre-WW2 Edgbaston and London and covers subject matter that, although I have done a lot of reading and studying around the area of the Secret Service, brought the ideas and information out into a fresh new perspective.  This book is written in a slightly different way to the other Rachel Hore books that I have read but fans should appreciate how the writing mirrors the subject matter and enjoy the story all the more for it.
Many thanks to Netgalley for providing a pre-release copy in exchange for an honest review.
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It's the 1930s in Edgbaston Minnie is working as a typist supporting her mother and younger siblings doesn't want a husband yet and wants better for herself.

she is approached to work as a spy for the British government and soon finds herself living a dangerous double life in London. 

What has Minnie let herself in for? 

This is not my normal kind of read at all but something drew me to the cover and I  thoroughly enjoyed Minnie's journey and I really feared for her.

Based on a true story this is well researched and beautifully written you will not be left disappointed.
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This is a novel based on a true story, this for me is instantly a winner. This is one of those books that has been on my TBR for too long. I am a huge fan of this author so it is an honour to share my review for this book.

I adore Minnie Grey, she is such a gorgeous character Ana one who we go on the journey with. This is a book that allows us to go to 1930s MI5. We see the difficult and dangerous work completed by Minnie and why she fears for her life.

The novel moves at a great pace and we are given enough detail to set the scene and leaves us with enough suspense.

We are provided with vivid accounts if the journeys and I feel this is a book which has been well researched.

I am a huge fan of this author, this is a superb book which is absolutely worth five stars.
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Rachel Hore always writes fascinating novels and this is a really brilliant one! It tells the story of real life spy Olga Gray who worked for M15 and became embroiled in a series of very dangerous missions. The spy angle for Minnie who is 'Olga' in the novel is interesting as she's a normal woman from Edgebaston who is told to meet someone in a station in London...and then she is recruited as a spy,

i was captivated and really involved in the story and it is a recommended read from me!
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A lovely read as always. Although i didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as all her other ones. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t as good, 8/10
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Oh my goodness, this book did not disappoint. having read many of Rachel Hore's previous books, I knew I was in for a treat, but this is her best yet. I felt the atmosphere from the beginning of a woman who wanted more than marriage and children and when an opportunity arose, Minnie Gray grabbed it with both hands. In this period of time, it would have been very unusual. As they story built, I felt the tension as it grew and at times could barely read on, for I was so worried that something was going to happen to Minnie. And could feel myself wanting to look over my shoulder! Was she being led down the proverbial garden path. The mental anguish of leading a double life was palpable. Her relationship with Max was intriguing as at times I felt he was a father figure and yet at other times that Minnie wanted romance with him. Affirmation of her role in some respect was wanting and I could feel when she was let down, although this would have been part of the job. It was only when I read the end acknowledgements  that I discovered this was based on a true story and I quickly googled the 'real' people. This could so easily be made into a film.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to read this wonderful book, I shall be recommending and buying it for gifts when it is published next year.
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A librarian recommended Rachel Hore to me and so I was excited to read this account of a 1930s female spy.  It was fascinating to realise how much of MI5’s work involved patiently setting up situations in ordinary circumstances, and the devotion of ‘ordinary’ people like Minnie.  I admit I was a little disappointed there was not more glamour and drama, and was frustrated that Minnie sacrificed so much for her employer, but this made more sense when I discovered it was based on true events.  I enjoyed it as a gentle bedtime read.
Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.   I really enjoy this authors books and this was no exception, fantastic storyline, great characters.   Loved it.
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