I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on “Ike & Kay” by James MacManus. It is publication day today for this book by Duckworth OverLook and is available in various formats. CLICK HERE for the link to purchase from Amazon UK. I would like to express my thanks to Thogdin at Duckworth Overlook for my copy of this wonderful book.
The secret affair at the heart of World War II
Ike and Kay is the absorbing new novel from the highly acclaimed author James MacManus. A compelling historical novel, it is a vivid reimagining of General Eisenhower and Kay Summersby’s infamous love affair in London during World War II.
In 1942, Kay Summersby’s life is changed forever when she is conscripted to drive General Eisenhower on his fact-finding visit to wartime London. Despite Eisenhower’s marriage to Mamie, the pair take an immediate liking to each other and he buys Kay a rare wartime luxury: a box of chocolates. So begins a tumultuous relationship that, against all military regulation, sees Kay traveling with Eisenhower on missions to far-flung places before the final assault on Nazi Germany.
The general does dangerously little to conceal his affair with the woman widely known as “Ike’s shadow,” and in letters Mamie bemoans his new obsession with “that Irish woman”. That does not stop him from using his influence to grant Kay citizenship and rank in the US army, drawing her closer still when he returns to America. When officials discover Eisenhower’s plans to divorce his wife they threaten the fragile but passionate affair, and Kay is forced to take desperate measures to hold onto the man she loves…
Based on the scandalous true story of General Eisenhower’s secret World War II love affair, Ike and Kay is a compelling story of love, duty, sacrifice and heartbreak, set against the backdrop of the most tumultuous period of the 20th century.
Firstly this is a story that is based on true events. It is the story of how Kay Summersby became driver to General Eisenhower while he was on a visit to London during WWII. A time when street signs were removed and London was in a black out, hence the need for drivers with knowledge of the area, the MTC (Motor Transport Corp) was in place and essential for the movement of visitors.
James has created a story that has a great balance for this reader, actual events with a romantic liaison. It becomes evident that there is something going on between Ike and Kay as she transports him not only around London, but further afield into Europe. She is a woman who is able to provide a stable environment that Eisenhower gradually starts to rely on. It is not based just during the war, but also continues in the years after. You get to see different sides to the man who goes on to become President. My opinion at the start of the book about these two people changed by the time I got the end. My heart went out to Kay as her role during the war and after changed, her role changed so much from the driver she originally started out as. Ike was in a position asking where loyalties lay, were they with Kay or to his country.
There are author notes at the end that are interesting reading, they explain how no one actually knows the extent of the relationship between Ike and Kay. The story that is told is one that has been researched and the author has used this research to then create a wonderful read of what may have happened. I had no idea about Kay and her role so I tootled off to do a bit of research of my own after I had finished reading. I found photographs and various articles that was great to be able to put an actual face to the lady behind the story.
This is a story I would definitely recommend to readers of historical fiction, romantic fiction based during WWII, it is a mix of emotion and heartbreak as the characters come to terms with their feelings and how they are seen by others with documented facts . As this lady was someone I knew nothing about it was interesting to read on further about her, and I am grateful for being introduced to Kay.
About the Author:
James MacManus has worked in the newspaper business for 46 years.He is currently the Managing Director of the Times Literary Supplement.He began his career on The Daily Express in Manchester after leaving St Andrews University.He worked in the Express regional offices in Newcastle,Belfast and Dublin before leaving to join the Guardian in London in 1972.He became Paris correspondent of that paper in 1974 then Africa and Middle East correspondent between the years of 1974-1985.He did not begin writing creatively until became MD of the TLS in 1998.His first book,Ocean Devil, told the story of a young Englishman who was caught up in the Sino-Japanese war of 1936-45.George Hogg was an Oxford graduate who worked as a journalist and then schoolmaster during the ferocious conflict.He became a hero in China having led a school of ninety children to safety from the advancing Japanese in the bitter winter of 1944.Ocean devil; was made into a film directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Jonathan Rhys Meyer. MacManus’ debut novel On the Broken Shore was published by Harper Collins in April 2010 and launched in the US with the title the Language of the Sea in 2013.
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