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Aug 11, 2015

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

Captivating storytelling

Maggie Bright (A Novel of Dunkirk) by Tracy Groot
Tyndale, 2015, $24.99, 368 pages
Review copy provided in exchange for review at Historical Novels Review (Editors Choice)
Burton Book Review Rating: 5 stars

England, 1940.
Clare Childs knew life would change when she unexpectedly inherited the "Maggie Bright"--a noble fifty-two-foot yacht. In fact, she's counting on it. But the boat harbors secrets. When a stranger arrives, searching for documents hidden onboard, Clare is pulled into a Scotland Yard investigation that could shed light on Hitler's darkest schemes and prompt America to action.Across the Channel, Hitler's "Blitzkrieg" has the entire British army in retreat with little hope for rescue at the shallow beaches of Dunkirk. With time running out, Churchill recruits civilian watercraft to help. Hitler is attacking from land, air, and sea, and any boat that goes might not return. Yet Clare knows "Maggie Bright" must answer the call--piloted by an American who has refused to join the war effort until now and a detective with a very personal motive for exposing the truth.The fate of the war hinges on this rescue. While two men join the desperate fight, a nation prays for a miracle.

Tracy Groot packs a powerful punch with her compelling story of characters coming together during terrible times, featuring the Maggie Bright, a little boat that brings hope to all it touches. The novel starts off with seemingly unrelated characters: Clare, a simple woman who wants to learn how to sail her new boat; Jamie, a soldier who wants to do his duty and save England and a captain; Murray, a cartoonist wanting to bail his priest out of jail; and William, a detective wanting to avenge cruelty. Somehow the author makes these simple characters explode onto the pages with several moving plots that climax at the famous Dunkirk evacuation of 1940.

Clare and Detective William begin to work together to find a way to prove certain atrocities, but World War II is about to happen on their doorstep. The very idea of an evacuation is far from anyone’s mind, and the realization of the effects of Germany’s advances is portrayed vividly throughout each character’s story. These are unforgettable characters put in an untenable situation, but they manage to persevere and show us that humanity exists for a reason (keep tissues handy).

Much like Tracy Groot’s last novel of wartime (The Sentinels of Andersonville), Maggie Bright is a page-turner that will stay with you long after you are finished. The portrayal of war and all its ugly facets is written to avoid shock value, but to give the reader a clear vision of why we have to fight in the first place. Without a doubt, Maggie Bright is a favorite novel of 2015.

Read my review of Tracy's previous award winning novel: The Sentinels of Andersonville