Cover Image: The Words I Never Wrote

The Words I Never Wrote

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

In The Words I Never Wrote the author departs from her popular Clara Vine Series to write a standalone novel about two English sisters who took separate paths beginning in 1936.  Their story begins at the wedding of 22-year old Irene Capel, the beautiful elder daughter of British aristocrats, to Ernst Weissmuller a German industrialist 13 years her senior.  She is happy to enter a proper and financially secure relationship, move to Germany where her husband is in a circle which includes Goering and Heydrich, and be the mistress of a home in the most fashionable part of Berlin.  

Her sister and best friend Cordelia, at twenty, is more adventurous than her sister.  By a quirk of fate, at the wedding Cordelia mentions her desire to be a writer to a guest and he offers her an entry into journalism with an apprenticeship at the Paris desk of an English newspaper.  She finds herself writing about fashion and reveling in the avant garde of the industry.  

As German society become more reactionary Cordelia begs her sister to leave Berlin and return to England, but Irene chooses to remain the wife of a Nazi industrialist, although she has her small rebellions.  She accepts the fact that her husband has mistresses but secretly practices birth control because she does not want to have sons for Germany as the Fuhrer demands.  She helps the Jewish family of her husband’s former secretary.  

When war is imminent and it is obvious that Irene will remain in Berlin, her relationship with Cordelia is fractured.  Cordelia is recruited into the covert war effort where her valuable knowledge of French fashion makes sure that spies are outfitted properly down to the cheap materials in their clothing and the contents of their pockets.

I found the parallel stories of the sisters compelling and I had to agree with Cordelia.  I kept asking myself why Irene remained in Berlin.  Her reason seems to be that as the wife of an important Nazi factory owner she would not be welcome back in England. The story of the sisters ends with a bittersweet conclusion.  (Again, I am puzzled by Irene’s final decisions)

The author frames the account of the Capel sisters with a modern plot about a photographer who buys Cordelia’s old  Underwood portalbe typewriter which contains a 140 page fragment of a novel Cordelia never finished about Irene.  She wants to find out what happened to Cordelia who was a famous photo journalist after the war and her mysterious older sister.  I thought the frame was unnecessary to the plot and slowed it down, but not enough to distract from a compelling novel.
Was this review helpful?
This book was excellent.  The author obviously did her WWII research when writing. I was hooked from the beginning of the book until the end.  I was invested in the characters, I wanted to learn more about them like they were real people. Really enjoyed this one, 4 stars.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This should not shock anyone who reads my posts regularly…I read and am recommending another WWII novel:
The Words I Never Wrote: A Novel by Jane Thynne
This book was featured on my early 2020 reading list. 
In our standard dual timeline, it’s 2016 and Juno is looking for a typewriter as a prop for a photo shoot. She finds a Hermes 3000 that the seller says belonged to Cordelia Capel, a famous journalist. The timewriter case contains half of an unpublished novel. 
Juno reads the novel which details Cordelia and her sister Irene’s lives before and during WWII, then the novel abruptly ends. 
Cordelia works as a journalist in Paris and later for the British intelligence. Irene has married a German (in 1936) and is living in pre-war Berlin married to a highly respected man among the Nazi-party. 
Juno has just broken up with her boyfriend and gets an opportunity to go to Germany under the premise of her own job (eye-roll) but mostly to research this story. So some of this story line was similar to some I have read before, and a few times I rolled my eyes at the coincidences that moved the story along. However, overall it was an enjoyable read, and I am still recommending this book. Because: 
The sisters’ stories were both engaging. Cordelia’s life is exciting working the fashion scene in pre-war Paris, and Irene’s perspective as a British wife in Germany who at first enjoys the parties and lifestyle before she sees the ultimate terrors materializing was one I have not read as many times. And the book is 80% or more these two sisters’ stories. In fact there was one time it went back to 2016 abruptly, and I had forgotten that story was even part of the book! 
Despite my minor annoyances, I truly enjoyed picking this book up each evening, and that is my most important criteria for my recommendation.
Thank you NetGalley for providing a download of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you, NetGalley and Random House, for a complimentary copy of this book! This review reflects my personal opinion!

Oh my, oh my, where to begin with this review! The author did a fantastic job writing this one with dual timeline and multiple POVs. I was able to experience the feelings and thoughts of the main characters. Another thing that really stood out was that Jane Thynne made me feel like I was reading a nonfiction book in narrative format. She included names that were familiar--both on the Nazi side of the war and the British side. That made the story even more believable. The character building was great as well. Throughout the book, the author added more pieces to the puzzle. I felt like I got to know the characters and understood their motives a lot more by the end of the book. Seeing two sisters on two different sides of the war was fascinating! I didn't want to put the book down until I knew what happened to them and if they saw each other again. I also liked that there was a link to the present. Juno's story added even more interesting twists to the novel. An overall great book!
Was this review helpful?
This is so eloquently written, that it captured me immediately.  I love the author's writing style that so deftly captures the reader that you feel as if you are present . I highly recommend this book for your reading enjoyment 
Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own,. 

This is a fascinating story of two sisters during wartime on opposite sides. It is also the story of a a women in present day who finds one of their stories when she buys a old typewriter used by one of the sisters. Her life is forever changed as she pursuers the story and along the way finds herself changed in profound ways by their wartime story.  The two timelines work seamlessly to interweave the stories of the three women .   This reader was so engrossed in this story I was unable to put it down until completion.  You feel the emotions of each sister as their stories are defined by wartime and choices must be done that forever impact their lives. 

A most excellent read and one I highly recommend Very well done to the author !
Was this review helpful?
This book was hauntingly beautiful. I absolutely loved it. I loved the typewriter element, as well as the story as a whole. For anybody who loves historical fiction, I would definitely recommend this novel. It is so incredibly well done, and I will definitely recommend it to many that I know!
Was this review helpful?
The Words I Never Wrote by Jane Thynne is a sweeping historical novel.  I found this book to be well-written with developed characters.  The story takes us from 1936 through 2016 moving from England, New York, Paris and Berlin.  Juno Lambert purchases a 1931 Underwood Portable typewriter for a photoshoot.  It once belonged to the famed journalist Cordelia Capel and there is a partial manuscript inside the case.  After reading the document, Juno wants to uncover the rest of the story.  Cordelia’s sister, Irene married a German lawyer and moved to Berlin.  Her husband is a Nazi sympathizer and they moved in exalted circles.  There are endless parties and social functions for Irene to attend.  At first, she believes everything is normal in Berlin.  Slowly Irene begins to see what is really happening in Berlin, but she needs to be careful.  Irene is watched because she is English and her letters to Cordelia are monitored.  Cordelia becomes a journalist.  Something happens between the two sisters that has them become estranged.  The author captured the time period with her descriptions of the clothing, the atmosphere in Paris and Berlin, the attitudes of the people, the political climate and so much more.  Real historical figures are included like Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Martha Dodd, and Kim Philby.   I did feel that some descriptions were too detailed and there were a few scenes that were drawn out which slowed down the pacing.  The middle is a little sluggish, but then I reached the climax which had me quickly turning the pages to see how the story would turn out.  It was interesting to learn what it was like in Germany leading up to World War II.    I liked that each sister had a distinctive voice and point-of-view (as did Juno).  I am glad that I decided to read this book and regret not fitting it into my schedule sooner.  My favorite phrase is “. . . words could change the world.”  The Words I Never Wrote is a complex and moving novel with a unique Underwood typewriter, a celebrated correspondent, a socialist socialite, lighthearted letters, an incomplete manuscript and a wicked war.
Was this review helpful?
The Words I Never Wrote is a unforgettable and very remarkable book by Jane Thynne.  The story is very complex with so much WW2 history to take in.
This is one of the best WW2 books I have ever read.  If you are interested in a gripping book about WW2, you need to read this.
Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read and review this book for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
I received this from Netgalley as an ARC and was it worth it.  The Words I Never Wrote is an amazing story of two English sisters that were best friends until circumstances drive them apart.  Irene marries an important German industrialist with important social connections.  She is perfect for this role in her life as she is the stoic in the family and no one ever knows for sure what she feels, except for Cordelia.  

Cordelia is the exact opposite and can’t keep a secret in her mind.  What goes in must come out.  So when WEII breaks out and the Nazis take over Cordelia breaks communication with her sister.

We start this story with Juno, a photographer, in the present time that buys a typewriter on impulse.  In the typewriters carry case is an unfinished manuscript of the two sisters Irene and Cordelia. Juno is intrigued by this manuscript and must try and find out the end story of these sisters.

#netgalley #TheWordsINevwrWrote
Was this review helpful?
In this day and age of computers, iPads and smart phones, it's hard to believe that it wasn't that long ago that typewriters were the vessels that brought our minds stories to life, some fictional accounts and others all too real.
Modern day photographer, Juno Lambert, buys a 1931 Underwood typewriter and discovers an unpublished novel by celebrated author, Cordelia Capel in Jane Thynne's book, The Words I Never Wrote.
Cordelia's story is the harrowing account of two sisters, Cordelia and Irene. Two sisters on opposite paths and opposite sides during WWII. Cordelia, a reporter in France, working for the British undercover while Irene marries a Nazi and moves to Germany. Thynne gives us complex characters and what could have been a simple good girl-bad girl scenario is thought-provoking and full of depth. Parts of this historical fiction account are chilling and heartbreaking as Cordelias and Irene's journey through WWII are a devastating portrait on the toll that WWII had on families. Can two sisters that are not only distanced by an ocean but also by an ideology find a path to redemption and salvation?
Can Juno find the ending to their story before it's too late as Cordelia reflected when she says, "I'm fading like a book left out in sunlight, all words erasing gradually from the page."
Lovers of historical fiction will find The Words I Never Wrote some of the best words ever read. I received an advance copy of this book from #NetGalley #TheWordsINeverWrote
Was this review helpful?
Jane Thynne is one of my favorite writers.  I have been reading her “Clara Vine” series since it became available in the US and I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of this stand-alone novel.  Though I’m a fan of her work, I can honestly say that this is one of her best novels to date.  I have encouraged several friends to read this page turner including friends from my book clubs.  My only criticism is that I wish the book was longer.

When photographer, Juno Lambert splurges buying a vintage Underwood typewriter that used to belong to famed female journalist Cordelia Capel, she is surprised to discover an unpublished novel hidden in the typewriter case.  Juno is enthralled as she reads the manuscript depicting Cordelia’s relationship with her beloved yet frustrating sister, Irene.  Cordelia’s sister marries a wealthy German businessman leaving England for Berlin in 1936.  While Irene appears to love all that the life of a socialite entails, Cordelia dreams of being a journalist but remains sequestered to the typing pool. 

The sister’s exchange letters frequently, however, as tensions rise between their countries details in their letters become sparse conveying little of what they truly feel nor the reality of their current circumstances. When Cordelia learns that her brother-in-law is a Nazi sympathizer, she wonders where her sister’s loyalties lie.
Juno ever determined to fill in the gaps within the manuscript, travels halfway around the world endeavoring to learn the truth about these women.  What she will learn may surprise her. 

I received an advance copy of this novel; all opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Writing about other people’s lives, putting to pen other people’s passions and pains, is simple compared to sharing your soul and exposing your secrets on the page.

Trust me when I say, I would much rather tell you about the liars and the cheats and the shysters and the scoundrels in our families’ trees than share excerpts of my everyday existence. I guess that is why I identified with the novel, The Words I Never Wrote, by Jane Thynne.

It is the story of two sisters, whom we “meet” by chance when an unfinished manuscript is found tucked inside a 1931 Underwood typewriter that once belonged to the world-renowned journalist, Cordelia Capel.

Intrigued by both the antique and the pages, Juno Lambert purchases the typewriter and begins reading the manuscript which documents the tale of two women on opposite sides of the war: Cordelia and her sister Irene.

Their story starts in the year 1936. Cordelia and Irene are the daughters of a well-to-do, well-connected English couple whose social circle is diverse and immense.

At one of their parents’ garden parties, Irene meets a handsome businessman from Germany whose charm catches her heart. The two soon marry and relocate to his home in Berlin. Meanwhile, Cordelia, who lives to write, begins working at a Paris newspaper office.

Despite the distance, the sisters remain devoted to one another and correspond regularly. But, as time passes, Cordelia reads between the lines of her sister’s letters; Irene’s husband is a Nazi sympathizer.

Although Cordelia tries to convince her sister to leave, life in the Third Reich has is oppressive and overbearing. Irene can no longer confide in her sister without fear of repercussions; instead, she must choose her words carefully, never spelling out the truth of her life to her sister… or herself.

Exceptionally emotive and well-wrought, The Words I Never Wrote kept me guessing and kept me turning. As a lover of World  World War II fiction, The Words I Never Wrote is by far one of my favorites. I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves history or enjoys a great story.
Was this review helpful?
This was such a beautiful Historical read. The way the story weaved in and out of the past was beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves history and has a passion for vintage storytelling!
Was this review helpful?
This was a very astute and stirring story. I liked reading about what Germany was like leading up to the war and enjoyed the two story’s and timelines. The war tore so many families apart and these sisters were no different. 
Many thank to Ballantine and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Another female perspective of WW II, this time sisters on the opposite sides of history. The fluidity of time and point of view made this story all the more compelling.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. This book was just okay for me, but I there were aspects I liked - pick this up and give it a read!
Was this review helpful?
Warning: rape

Jane Thynne brings us an epistolary novel set in London and Berlin in the late 1930s in the runup to WWII.

In the present, Juno Lambert, a photographer working her way through divorce comes across an ancient Underwood typewriter. The typewriter shop owner tells her it was once the property of Cordelia Capel, a journalist who covered fashion in Paris and then the aftermath of WWII. In the case for the typewriter is a partially-finished manuscript written by Cordelia. Juno purchases the typewriter. Her editor has asked her to go on assignment to Berlin, and she accepts with a double purpose in mind: to perform this assignment, and find out all she can about the Capels to complete the story the manuscript began.

In the 1930s, as the decade comes to an end, the Capel sisters Irene and Cordelia are about to head their separate ways. Close for their entire lives, this brings along a bit of angst, especially as Irene is marrying a German industrialist, who has also joined the Nazi party in order to expand his business. Cordelia, a bit later, heads to Paris to act as the secretary to the news bureau chief there, and eventually begins writing columns about her coverage of fashion there.

At first, the sisters write one another often, detailing the happenings around them - there are many historical people named in the novel, from fashion designers, writers, painters, and assorted other cultural icons in France on Cordelia's side to Nazi leaders in Germany on Irene's.

As the storms of war ramp up, Cordelia begs Irene to leave Germany and head home to London with her. Irene refuses, and after being warned by Mary Dodd (daughter of the US Ambassador) as well as a handsome Nazi officer (Abel Hoffman) to watch what she says and writes, and knowing that she will never be able to leave without her passport (now locked in a safe to which she does not know the combination), decides to restrict her letter to Cordelia to only the social goings-on she is party to as the wife of a wealthy and influential industrialist. She tells herself, however, to memorize the things she is seeing and hearing.

Cordelia, exasperated with Irene, tells her that the letter she is writing now will be her last, since Irene has apparently chosen the Germans over her family. Cordelia falls in love with her station chief, who decides to go to Spain, where a civil war is underway. She pleads with him not to go, but eventually she returns to London, alone. There, she works with British intelligence to prepare people to act as spies. She works with Kim Philby, the notorious double agent who penetrated the intelligence service.

Back in Germany, Irene makes a fateful decision to work with resistance fighters. Not in the field, but by bringing them materials they can use to fake papers, work orders, and so forth. Eventually, she also begins working in a hospital, to treat Germans injured in the war.

Thynne does a wonderful job of describing the environments in which the two sisters lived, but not to the point of it affecting the story negatively. The bustling of both Paris and Berlin prior to the war is depicted, as is the effect of war on the Germans as WWII grinds down on the country with the advances of both US and Russian troops.

The story is strongest when it is focused on Cordelia and Irene and the milieus in which they find themselves. Juno is certainly the weakest link, and when the book reached the last quarter, it was all Juno and what she had been able to discover, with her egocentric ex making an unwelcome appearance - an unneeded push to the story, as he served no purpose other than to reinforce to Juno that she was doing the right thing. 

I won't go into the very end so as not to spoil it. I will say this is one of the best books I've read this year so far, and very well written. It is dramatic without being melodramatic, romantic without being cliche, and descriptive without being flowery.

4 out of 5 stars.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine books for the advance copy.
Was this review helpful?
I've read so many books that took place during WWII, it was a pleasure to read "The Words I Never Wrote" by Jane Thynne as the novel takes place and tells the reader a story of the years prior to the great war.

During a hot summer day, Juno Lambert, a photographer, and occasional writer, finds herself in an antique shop where she comes across an old 1931 Underwood typewriter that once belonged to a journalist Cordelia Capel. To her amusement, the old typewriter came with a bonus, a manuscript/biography hidden in its case. The script has lured Juno into its pages with an appealing story of two sisters who fought the same great war, from the opposite sides.

Regrettably, the sisters' relationship is torn apart by the horrific war. Newly married Irene joined her German husband in the heart of Germany - Berlin, at the same time as her younger sister Cordelia, a journalist in training was sent to France. During the years prior to WWII sisters often exchange letters that contain their political views and social life in pre-war Berlin and Paris. As the warning of the upcoming war becomes real, young Cordelia learns that Irene's husband is a Nazi sympathizer and urged her sister to leave her husband's side and return home before it's too late. With no explanation, Irene chooses not to follow Cordelia's pleas, and in result sisters' communications stops, and their lives go into different directions.

The biography is cut short, leaving Juno yearning for more. After throw research, she finds very little on Irene and Cordelia's lives during and after the war. Why Cordelia has not set her foot in Europe after 1945? Has Irene survived the war? Has Cordelia ever forgiven her sister for betraying their beliefs and homecourty? Juno packs her bags and boards the plane to the place that might hold answers to all her questions - Berlin.

I was immersed in the story of the triumph of the human spirit, and courage, as well as the strength and perseverance of strong women. Thank you NetGalley and Ballantine Books publishers for a free and advanced copy of this wonderful novel.
Was this review helpful?
Two sisters, best friends and confidantes, Cordelia and Irene are torn apart by war allegiance during WWII. Can they find each other after the war to reconnect and reignite the relationship they both loved?

Historical fiction is my favorite genre and this book did not disappoint. Told partially in letters between the sisters, I loved the strength of both women to survive their place in the war. Both were faced with tough choices, but didn’t take the easy way out, making the novel emotional and fulfilling. I highly recommend this wonderful read.
Was this review helpful?
I really liked this book - thought it was a very interesting story with strong characters and a parallel story-line that was connected but distinct.  The main character (Juno) gets involved in the history of a famous female journalist.  I like that Juno grows over the course of the book and makes active decisions in the story.  The story of Cordelia (the journalist) is interesting but doesn't take away from Juno.  Would very much recommend.
Was this review helpful?