"Captivating." ––The Washington Post
Named a Best Book of Summer by Good Morning America • BuzzFeed • PopSugar • BookRiot • LifeSavvy • CT Post
From "a master of historical fiction" (NPR), Karin Tanabe's A Woman of Intelligence is an exhilarating tale of post-war New York City, and one remarkable woman’s journey from the United Nations, to the cloistered drawing rooms of Manhattan society, to the secretive ranks of the FBI.
A Fifth Avenue address, parties at the Plaza, two healthy sons, and the ideal husband: what looks like a perfect life for Katharina Edgeworth is anything but. It’s 1954, and the post-war American dream has become a nightmare.
A born and bred New Yorker, Katharina is the daughter of immigrants, Ivy-League-educated, and speaks four languages. As a single girl in 1940s Manhattan, she is a translator at the newly formed United Nations, devoting her days to her work and the promise of world peace—and her nights to cocktails and the promise of a good time.
Now the wife of a beloved pediatric surgeon and heir to a shipping fortune, Katharina is trapped in a gilded cage, desperate to escape the constraints of domesticity. So when she is approached by the FBI and asked to join their ranks as an informant, Katharina seizes the opportunity. A man from her past has become a high-level Soviet spy, but no one has been able to infiltrate his circle. Enter Katharina, the perfect woman for the job.
Navigating the demands of the FBI and the secrets of the KGB, she becomes a courier, carrying stolen government documents from D.C. to Manhattan. But as those closest to her lose their covers, and their lives, Katharina’s secret soon threatens to ruin her.
With the fast-paced twists of a classic spy thriller, and a nuanced depiction of female experience, A Woman of Intelligence shimmers with intrigue and desire.
Tanabe (A Hundred Suns) returns with a layered and engrossing Cold War historical. In 1954, Rina Edgeworth is a surgeon's wife and full-time mother living on the Upper East Side, her free-spirited life as a French translator for the United Nations a distant memory. One day, FBI agent Lee Coldwell recruits her to serve as an informant on her former lover, Jacob Gornev, whom she knew in her university days and whom Coldwell explains is now spying for the KGB. Under the tutelage of magnetic Black agent Turner Wells, who met Jacob in a radical civil rights group Wells had infiltrated, Rina's first nerve-wracking assignment is to contact Jacob, so she can intercept stolen documents in place of Jacob's sometime girlfriend, Ava Newman, who has been a courier for Jacob's ring of Soviet spies. Rina's husband, Tom, meanwhile, thinks she's having an affair and threatens her with psychiatric treatment. Her friends, her mission, and Wells, though, prove to be her saving grace. In addition to spotlighting 1950s attitudes toward gender and efforts to bring forth racial equality, Tanabe injects plenty of credible period details such as John Foster Dulles frostily refusing to shake hands with Chou En-Lai in Geneva, and depicts the Communist characters with humanity against the chilling backdrop of mutually assured destruction. This would be perfect for a film or TV series.