Monday, June 21, 2021

The Princess Spy - Nonfiction Review

Goodreads:  The Princess Spy by Larry Loftis

Rating: Really Liked It!
Source: Library

Description:  When Aline Griffith was born in a quiet suburban New York hamlet, no one had any idea that she would go on to live “a life of glamour and danger that Ingrid Bergman only played at in Notorious” (Time). As the US enters the Second World War, the young college graduate is desperate to aid in the war effort, but no one is interested in a bright-eyed young woman whose only career experience is modeling clothes.

Aline’s life changes when, at a dinner party, she meets a man named Frank Ryan and reveals how desperately she wants to do her part for her country. Within a few weeks, he helps her join the Office of Strategic Services—forerunner of the CIA. With a code name and expert training under her belt, she is sent to Spain to be a coder, but is soon given the additional assignment of infiltrating the upper echelons of society, mingling with high-ranking officials, diplomats, and titled Europeans, any of whom could be an enemy agent. Against this glamorous backdrop of galas and dinner parties, she recruits sub-agents and engages in deep-cover espionage to counter Nazi tactics in Madrid.

Even after marrying the Count of Romanones, one of the wealthiest men in Spain, Aline secretly continues her covert activities, being given special assignments when abroad that would benefit from her impeccable pedigree and social connections.

Filled with twists, romance, and plenty of white-knuckled adventures fit for a James Bond film, The Princess Spy brings to vivid life the dazzling adventures of a remarkable American woman who risked everything to serve her country.

Genre: Nonfiction - Biography

Why I Picked This Book: I read the memoir The Spy Wore Red years ago and loved it so was really curious to get a more objective story.

My Impression:  I read Aline Griffith's memoir years ago and while I loved it I always wondered just how much of it was true.  The reality is that there was more truth then I expected and even with her embellishments and changes the true story was just as riveting as the story she told if not more so.

Aline was an extraordinary young woman who was willing to do extraordinary things and was able to adapt quickly and think on her feet.  Her efforts during the war while maybe lacking in movie level drama were riveting and intense and I was incredibly impressed by her abilities and her discretion.  

I wouldn't say that this reads like fiction - especially at the beginning when Loftis is introducing Aline and the other players in the book as well as explaining the setup both in Spain and the US.  Once Aline gets to Spain the pace quickens and I flew through the last half.  I really enjoyed that Loftis pointed out the differences from the true story and the memoir as well as gave a wrap-up as to what happened to the various people that we meet through the book.  

This was an interesting look into an area of World War II that I haven't come across very often.  While Aline's book is mentioned quite a few times I don't feel like you need to be familiar with it or her before reading this one though I'd be surprised if you don't immediately search it out after finishing this one.  I've already ordered a copy!  

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  I enjoyed Loftis' writing style.  While he doesn't make nonfiction read like fiction I felt like he told a good story with an even hand and backed up where he was getting his information.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you're interested in World War II or interesting women in history I think you would enjoy this read.


  1. What a life this woman led. Fascinating.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book.

  3. I love these fiction based on true events. Fantastic review :)

  4. Does sound very good, this is the kind of book my sister would enjoy. I see it is at Audible so I will suggest it to her. For health reasons these days audio books are the best for her as she has trouble now with sight.

  5. I also enjoyed this. What an amazing woman!

  6. I don't generally like war anything, even Historical Fiction, but this sounds super interesting. 👏👏👏