Of course reading is highly individualistic. Of course all of us prefer this or that “type of book” (call it a genre, if you like). My reading tastes extend to many genres but I was warned, when I took up “The Spy’s Wife,” by the coy pink flowers hanging upside down in one corner of the book’s back cover. The pretty girl with windswept, coiffured hair leaning out of a train window on the front cover was another clue. The Spy’s Wife is part of a widespread genre halfway between formulaic romance and harder-edged “general women’s fiction.” Sure enough, the enticing overall plotline—in the late 30s, a northern English widow falls for a German man and ends up throwing herself into espionage in Nazi Germany to attempt to save him—is belied by plain prose, explanatory dialogue, and an unrealistic plot.
In its favor, The Spy’s Wife is easily knocked over in a few hours and for those of you who adore this genre, it may well be a winner.