Early One Morning by Robert Ryan
Published March 25, 2014 by Open Road Media
Reviewed by Amanda
From Goodreads: On a crisp autumn night in the twenty-first century, a car is pulled from the depths of an Austrian lake. A skeleton grips the wheel. Finally, an answer: William Grover-Williams, the premier English race-car driver of his generation and a hero of the French Resistance, met his end at the bottom of a mountain lake.
Or did he?
In the Roaring Twenties, Grover-Williams and Frenchman Robert Benoist were teammates and rivals on the Bugatti racing team. Locked in a fierce competition for the world championship, they also raced to win the heart of the gorgeous Eve Aubicq. Then the war changed everything—and nothing. As members of the British Special Operations Executive, Grover-Williams and Benoist dashed across France in support of the Resistance, but it wasn’t just the Nazis they had to watch out for. Double agents were everywhere, and friendship—or love, for that matter—was no guarantee of loyalty. Every morning, Will, Robert, and Eve had to look in the mirror and ask: Whom can I trust today? The wrong answer might just have spelled their doom.
Some of the things that real people accomplish in their lives so far surpass what we can imagine. William Grover-Williams went from rich kid to chauffeur to British spy-what a life he had!
We first meet William Grover-Williams as a young man trying to get out from under his parents thumb and getting into some trouble doing it. When we meet him again he’s working as a chauffeur for the famous portrait artist William Orpen; and he meets his mistress, the beautiful Eve. I would have liked more about Eve. According to Ryan’s story she became Orpen’s lover as a teenager and he alludes to the trauma she went through due to the Germans, but never really goes back to it. I think I would have enjoyed Eve even more throughout the book if she had been a more developed character.
That being said I did enjoy how Ryan wrote Grover-Williams and his friend/rival/mentor Robert Benoist. I enjoyed the tension that was between them as drivers as much as the admiration and the friendship. It was hard to become emotionally invested in these characters when the book begins with the car being pulled out of a lake, because I felt there was this looming tragedy coming but it was so worth it in the end. Obviously not everyone has a happy ending in any war story, but this was a really good story of friendship, love and hope. I was definitely caught up in the drama as they began working with the British Special Operations and the French Resistance.
For me, Ryan was a bit too technical with the details of the racing cars, however if this is something you’re into the detail might have been perfect. It was enough for me to imagine the beautiful old cars racing in Monte Carlo-I don’t care about the engines! The story moved a lot faster to me when we were past the racing. It was quite a contrast to read the life Williams and Eve were living with the glamour of working for Bugatti and then the harsh differences after the Nazis moved into Paris.
I actually found the afterword to be extremely interesting as well. I really like knowing who based on a real person and what kind of detail was true.
Definitely recommended for historical fiction and spy novel fans!
Thank you Netgalley and Open Road Media for this advanced copy to review.
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