Cover Image: Seven Days in May

Seven Days in May

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As a history buff, I enjoyed this story.  It was one of those stories that sends you online to do a little historical research on your own.  I didn't know a great deal about sinking of the Lusitania, and this book inspired me to learn more about it, myself.  The author thoroughly researched the ship and the events surrounding it's demise.

The novel is told in two separate story lines.  The first involves a shipboard love triangle between two very different American heiresses and a penniless British lord being forced into a loveless marriage.  The second story line follows a young woman, running from her past, who finds work in the British war department.  I have seen some reviews criticize the second story line for not relating directly with the first.  However, I enjoyed the 2nd story, which not only dealt the heroine's personal troubles as a woman on her own in a culture where reputation was everything; but also showed the backroom workings of the war office and some of the issues faced by the employees who had to keep confidential anything they heard, even if it involved policies they didn't agree with.
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Thank you to netgalley for a copy of SEVEN DAYS IN MAY in exchange for my honest review.

Let me preface this review by stating I did not finish the book. I got to the half way point, and while the story was interesting, it was not moving fast enough to keep my attention. Based on what I read, it seemed heavy in historical facts and the story line was a bit shallow. I didn't feel a connection with the majority of the characters and was disappointed that I didn't get more out of it, as I tend to enjoy historical fiction, but this one just really wasn't for me.
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When I started this book, I had no idea that it was based on true events,  Like the movie Titanic, the characters are made up; however, the events surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania are true.  The story is centered around two sisters (Brooke and Sydney Sinclair) who go aboard the ship from New York to sail to England. The sisters could not be more different. Brooke is a rich heiress intent on marrying an impoverished aristocrat for the title of Lady. Sydney , also an heiress, is a suffragette trying to educate on safe sex practices. Together, they set sail to celebrate Brooke's wedding in England.

A third woman, Isabel who works with the government receiving messages intercepted from Germany. She is trying to overcome a blemished past. I think of this book in my head as a movie that is somewhere between The Hunt For Red October and the Titanic. This book would be a fantastic movie!!!!  It moved quickly, kept me on my toes, and had a love story as well.  I couldn't ask for more.  4 stars
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Sydney and Brooke are sisters and heiresses; Brooke is looking forward to her coming wedding, though Sydney is much more interested in the suffrage movement.  There's some potential unrest in Europe, of course, but nothing that they find terribly urgent, as they board the Lusitania in New York and move inexorably toward a tragic future.  Izzo builds suspense beautifully, playing on the history the reader knows and the characters (mostly) don't.  Recommended for historical fiction fans.
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Very, very similar to a movie called "Titanic" but an overall good read and enjoyable. Glad the story of Room 40 was in there so that it didn't seem completely familiar. Loved the authors note about her connection to the story.
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I read this as a summer book- and it was the perfect blend of history and romance- and a slight thriller component, mostly from knowing what's going to happen to the Luisitania.  Most novels looking at the class differences, especially in the UK, during this period, are set in the great houses.  The ship setting was different enough that most of the cliches fell away as you find yourself in the story.  I was especially happy to read Isabel's story, alongside those of Sydney and Brooke, because hers is also a seldom told tale.  Good writing, good plotting, all in all, a good read.  Thanks to net galley for the ARC.
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This book is wonderful – inspired by real events and the authors family history – Izzo has weaved a story of love and survival during the Great War. 

The lives of three women, two sisters, and one stranger, become entangled as war rages across Europe. Isabel, an English woman, works for Room 40, a secretive branch of the government that decodes German ciphers and passes them on to the Admirality. During her time in Room 40 Isabel becomes preoccupied with the threat to the Luistiana; a passenger ship that sails frequently between New York and Liverpool. As Isabel’s preoccupation and worry grows two New York heiresses, Sidney and Brooke Sinclair, both fiercely independent, set sail to England for socialite Brooke’s marriage to the impoverished English aristocrat Edward Thorpe-Tracey.  

The heiresses depart New York in May for the eight-day voyage to Liverpool, during the voyage the typically firey relationship between the sisters is tested even more so; new relationships are formed, and old ones are questioned. The worlds of Isabel and the Sinclair sisters collide when the Luistiana is attacked by German submarines in the Irish sea, the great ship sinks, and only 700 of the almost 2,000 passengers are rescued. Isabel feels that more could be done to save the ship and its passengers, whilst Sidney spends hours in the water before being rescued and taken to Ireland, and eventually to the home of Brooke’s fiancé. Sidney’s world has been irrevocably altered by the time she spent in the freezing water. 

Seven Days in May, is a heartbreaking fictional account of the real-life sinking of the Luistiana, and historical details about the event are accurate. It is a story of sisters, love, friendship, and great tragedy. Izzo has done an incredible job weaving together fiction and historical fact. The characters are all strong women; complex and complete, and all extremely different from one another. Izzo has a crafted a novel which can be interpreted on many levels – in its simplest form it is a romance – perfect for travelling, reading on the go or on the beach. I read this all in one sitting, and I recommend that you do the same!
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First let me start by saying that I love historical fiction.  I really enjoyed the way this book was written the way that it went back and forth from each of the characters.  At the beginning I expected it to be a chic lit read and was disappointed.  Much to my delight and surprise it was not.  It told the story of how and why the Lusitania sank, the errors that were made and relationships of the many characters.  I found every facet of this story entertaining and look forward to reading other works by this author.
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Boarding the Lusitania for a journey to England to be wed are Brooke Sinclair and her fiancé Edward Thorpe-Tracy, along with Brooke's sister, Sidney.  While Brooke is effervescent, Sidney is ambivalent.  

Their story is interspersed with the activities in Room 40, the British Intelligence Agency which deals with codes and ciphers.  This group, especially Isabel Nelson, is drawn into the maneuverings of the  German U-Boat, U-20.   As information continues to come to Room 40, the code breakers become more and more uneasy and begin to question those in authority who are responsible for warning the Lusitania of impending submarine action.

I think it takes a particularly good storyteller to keep the reader's interest, and Kim Izzo does a wonderful job of this.  I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling of the Lusitania story!!

I read this EARC courtesy of Net Galley and Harper 360.   pub date 05/02/17
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I loved this book from the first sentence. It caught my attention right away and I didn't want to put it down. I would have bought this book if I saw it in the store! I think it was very well written and I liked all of the characters and their stories!
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This was a rich and enjoyable read, an elevator pitch that would be something like What if The Bletchley Circle went to dinner at Downton Abbey and met Titanic. There are parallel and complex stories that bring not only the American passengers and British codebreakers to life but that tackle the era's response to female ambition and independence. At its heart the two sisters who embody very different eras - the Gilded Age past and the progressive future, help put the period's social and cultural climate into context. I also liked this novel a lot in part because of the many ways it connived to get me interested in the historical subject matter, and its real and fictional characters -- through a well-researched and very dramatic race against the clock that anatomizes the minutiae of the inevitably doomed crossing (the who knew what and when did they know it, something I would not be inclined to read in a drier, non-fiction context), covert workplace intrigue, a morally ambiguous military strategy, and more than one good old-fashioned love triangle. A lot of research in the background really brought the era to life for me.
As we consider the implications and circumstances around past world events like the sinking of the Lusitania (or the Reichstag Fire and the Gulf of Tonkin incident) and particularly in light of the current American regime's actions, it's good to bring some history into one's fiction. Especially when it's this entertaining!
UPDATED: I included this novel in my summer reading roundup for 24 Hours, link below.
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Sorry, I couldn't get into this book and stopped reading after the first few chapters.
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Set in the 7 days preceding the sinking of the Lusitania this book follows a handful of characters as they live out their days at sea during the beginning of World War I.  Told from several points of view, the book moves quickly and even though we ultimately know the story of the Lusitania, this book completely brought it to new light.  I loved the characters and was truly sad when this book was over. It's a book I keep thinking about the characters and wondering where they are now.
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This novel is beautiful and deeply felt. The author's respect for the subject leaps off the page and is beautifully interwoven with romance, the suffrage movement and the divisions of the class system. As the tale is grounded in fact, you know what will happen later, but nothing prepares you for the heart breaking losses that are expressed with such emotion and empathy. A wonderful read and one that will stay with me for a very long time.
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This page-turner takes the period appeal of shows such as Downton Abbey and The Bletchley Circle and sets it aboard the doomed ocean liner the Lusitania.
 New York heiress Sydney Sinclair has aspirations that go beyond her high-society life: she is drawn to the burgeoning suffragette movement and envisions a life of purpose. “She had to put her own feet on the ground for the cause.” 
Sydney’s unladylike behavior is a constant source of embarrassment for her sister, Brooke, who herself is focused on obtaining a proper title by marrying the impoverished aristocrat Edward Thorpe-Tracey, the future Lord Northbrook.
As the First World War plays out in Europe, Sydney, Brooke and Edward board the Lusitania — with Sydney defying convention and travelling in third class. As the trio make their way across the ocean, the sisters’ differences become even more pronounced, provoking consequences that may destroy their relationship forever.
Another danger could prove more catastrophic, however. Interspersed with the narrative following the sisters and Edward on the Lusitania is the story of Isabel Nelson, a secretary (who is actually skilled in codes and cyphers) working with Winston Churchill at Whitehall with the British Admiralty. Along with introducing another intriguing female character, these sections ramp up the tension, as it reveals the Lusitania is under threat from the Germans.
This gripping novel, which delicately explores the changing role of women in the early 1900s, is also a touching and powerful portrayal of a terrible event in history. As noted in the synopsis, the book is inspired by real events and the author had family on the actual Lusitania, which sank in May of 1915. Tremendous research, compelling characters and a great story make this book hard to put down.
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This is a well written, well researched book following the last voyage of the Lusitania. Written in two perspectives it is an entertaining read and I give it four stars.
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Seven Days in May 
by Kim Izzo (Goodreads Author) 
108416
Nancy Cunningham's review Jun 21, 2017  ·  edit
really liked it
bookshelves: netgalley 

SEVEN DAYS IN MAY lingered in my Kindle for quite a while before I started reading it---I love historical novels (the only way I have succeeded in learning any history) but was apparently resistant to spending time on a book about the sinking of the Lusitania. Once I picked it up, I didn't want to put it down.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit it is 118 degrees in the desert where I live and there are limited adventures available to a sensible person in this weather---so, perhaps, my generous rating has to do with the joy of escaping the heat (even if it is in the chilling waters of the ocean).

The book's appeal to me was partly in its feisty heroine---an eccentric (but, of course beautiful) black sheep of a wealthy American family. She was an early feminist and a clear embarrassment to her very social sister. This is all grist for a romantic potboiler, I know---and, there were elements of that in this book, but it was a very gripping and entertaining escape for me this summer and I appreciated the opportunity to gain some perspective on the danger the Lusitania faced as she sailed during the war.

The scenes on the ship were perhaps more appropriate to a PBS series than a serious historical encounter---but, they brought the story to life and I enjoyed it. The book also contained a parallel story about the British code-breakers that were following the ship's progress across the Atlantic--the dedication of that team and the challenges they faced were one of the more interesting aspects of the book.
NET GALLEY provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Seven Days in May follows four characters:
Sydney Sinclair - a young suffragette who is an advocate for birth control and portrayed as the black sheep
Brooke Sinclair - Sydney's sister, eager for fame and to be English royalty. The Sinclair sisters have inherited wealth from their parent's passing.
Edward Thorpe-Tracy - a sort of "mail order" groom enabling Brooke to married into British royalty. His family owns an estate but they have no money so Brooke and Edward enter into the perfect functional engagement. Apparently this was a thing for wealthy American women to do before WWI? He is about to enlist into the Royal Army.
Isabel Nelson - a secretary turned code decipherer in Room 40

The story was a light, enjoyable read. Most of the story takes place leading up to the torpedoing of the Lusitania. A love story really takes the focus of the Sinclair/Edward story line while Isabel is working in Room 40 (shades of The Imitation Game). The writing is pretty basic. I would consider it a light chick-lit fiction with some details about history in the story. I did not know anything about the sinking of the Lusitania. It was interesting to read about the one versus two torpedo conspiracy...

Thankfully the ending was not entirely where I thought Izzo was steering it.
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Seven Days in May is based on the final voyage of the Lusitania, and it is common knowledge that her fate was to sink off the Irish Coast, victim to one of the deadly submarines of the German fleet in World War One.  As such, it is quite hard to produce a novel with tension and a suggestion of an unknown final outcome, and yet author Kim Izzo manages to do so, by juxtaposition of the story of Sydney Sinclair, an American heiress on board and Isabel, a young woman working in the Admiralty offices in London. 

Both these women have interesting personal stories to intertwine with the known facts about the Lusitania and this helps to maintain interest throughout.  The role of the Admiralty, and Churchill in particular, adds further interest..  All in all a satisfying and interesting novel which also provides a lot of information about the ship, the society of the time and the way the war was managed in London.  

My only comment is that there is a slight tendency to overwhelm the reader with bursts of information about the vessel at some points.  This is fairly understandable as there is so much great research and information available and it must be irresistible to include at least some of the clearly painstaking research that has been undertaken.  It is particularly understandable when the context of the novel, explained in the after notes, is understood.

An interesting and enjoyable novel but not one to take along on a cruise holiday!
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As England fights the Germans, Room 40 is established to decode messages from the Germans.  Isabel begins working in Room 40, continuing to receive messages tracking a German submarine near Ireland.  At the same time, Brooke and Sydney Sinclair board  the Lusitania, with Edward, Brooke's fiancee.    I really liked both Isabel and Sydney, strong female characters fighting for their place in a time period not friendly towards ambitious and outspoken women.  Knowing what happens to the Lusitania doesn't lessen the impact of reading the fates of the various characters, including the real life grandfather of the author.  Recommended.
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