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A Woman of Intelligence

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Member Reviews

This one was kind of a slow burn for me. I know that women in the 1950s were not as ferocious as they are today, but there was just something off in the characterization where Katharina just gave up so much for marriage and her child when it wasn't in her original development as a character.

The Cold War aspect and spying parts were interesting and unique, but I don't necessarily feel like I earned anything new or it doesn't add any sort of new narrative to the historical-fiction Cold War era genre. This one just fell a little flat for me on all sorts of literary elements.

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I always enjoy historical fiction but this book was from an oft overlooked time period, the 1950s. Katharina is rich and well educated. The wife of an NYC pediatrician she is unable to use her language skills until the FBI approaches her to help with spying. I enjoyed the glamour as well as the intrigue and recommend this book. I thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.

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I honestly didn’t love this one! It was well written but I didn’t find myself connecting with it. I would be interested to read more from this author

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I appreciate the ability to send a rating and review for this title. I am an absolute sucker for a spy novel.

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A WOMAN OF INTELLIGENCE

WWII is over, the Cold War is on. Katharina Edgeworth, Reni, a young career woman in NYC, has married an upstanding pediatric orthopedist and has two young sons. She’s having a very hard time adjusting to motherhood, missing her former sense of self worth as an interpreter at the UN. As was the norm in the 1950s, her husband expects her to be content raising her children in an atmosphere of wealth and security. But she needs more.

And an opportunity presents itself in the form of assisting the US government with gathering information on potential communist spies, one of which is a former lover from college.

Through a variety of experiences, Reni is thrust into a world with people she finds interesting, both mentally and physically stimulating. How she integrates these new feelings into her unfulfilled world is the focus of this novel.

There are a lot of interesting concepts presented, and I would’ve liked to have seen them more developed, a little more depth. More focus on the political intrigue aspect of the book would have been more satisfying for me also.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Karin Tanabe, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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Rina Edgeworth married well and produced two healthy sons for the family. Her renown pediatric surgeon husband's career and income (in addition to a wad of family money) ensure Rina an extremely comfortable life. She knows she should be happy and content, but her life is not enough. She misses her translator job at the United Nations; it gave her purpose and fulfillment that being a stay-at-home mother does not bring. Taking place in the 1950's, Rina also has to fight societal norms - which state that women of a certain age must be very happy and content being a housewife and stay-at-home mother. Just as she was at her lowest point of unhappiness, the FBI reached out to her about a college lover who is a leader in communist organizations. Rina jumps at the chance to help the FBI and find a more personally fulfilling role in her life.

I loved the plot and the idea for this book. One main theme in this book is how hard it is to be a stay-at-home parent and how hard the job of a parent is. I was expecting more action, and some scenes in the book had a lot of holes in them. Rina is not an experienced agent and has never even considered being an agent, yet she is trusted with a huge job. I find it implausible that she did not have some close brushes with death even after those experienced in the counter-intelligence meet their end. I do like the setting; there are far too few books set in this time period.

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Katharina Edgeworth lives an enviable life married to Dr. Tom Edgeworth, the head of Pediatric Surgery of Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. She's a woman with a lofty name and position in a thriving World Class metropolis. But what is enviable to many, isn't often fully understood. All of that wealth, security and position in life comes with burdens and other trappings that make the reality much less desirable than one might otherwise assume. Katharina, a multi-lingual career woman with an exciting job at the UN is full of ambition and vigor when she trades all that in for her life as Mrs. Tom Edgeworth.

After having two very rambunctious kids, she has turned into not only just an extension of her husband, but a bird in a gilded cage, so to speak. Soon, she realizes that here clipped wings are destroying her. This is during the early 1950s where such a life was quite common for women of her background, but things were changing. Meanwhile, as she begins to find herself in the throws of a nervous breakdown, she is recruited by the FBI to help infiltrate the local Communist Party run by a former lover from her days at Columbia University. This is all during the height of the anti-Communist McCarthy hearings when political sensitivities were at their height.

This is a fascinating story of a woman caught in the midst of a changing world while her world is falling apart. The book reads easily without getting bogged down. The writing doesn't get hung up in theoretical discussions on Communism versus Capitalism. Only just enough to understand some of the important characters and provide the reading with a little mise en scene. The story crosses many facets of life that one might have gotten caught up with during that time period. Things were changing, and so was Katharina. It reads true to the times and is fitting for what a woman of her background and status might experience.

I found this to be a very good book that held my interest from beginning to end. If anything, I want more. There are several subplots, all converging into one interesting story that should especially appeal to women readers who want more than your typical Romance novel.

Thanks to NetGalley for a complementary copy of the eBook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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i loved this book. I could see myself and every other intelligent woman in many aspects of this story. A woman who had a career and gave it up to raise children, while living in an upper middle class marriage. She has everything that one could want except time for herself not just to live but to develop intellectually. She takes on a temporary job which she hides from her husband and sees it through to the end. She is a 'struck' woman; a woman who does not know how to express her own needs to her husband who appears to be quite controlling. Not much is written about the spouse so it is unfair to draw conclusions. One learns only her perspective, and cannot feel anything but sorrow for her. I am left with the question: Are we (women) trapped by our own making, or by our situations? Are women to be given freedom or to demand freedom. I will leave that to the reader to contemplate.

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I appreciate the question around which A Woman of Intelligence by Karen Tanabe is based. What compromise does a woman make between independence and a career and home and family? The reality is that the discussion continues even today and definitely more so in the context of women than men. Although the character and story was not for me, this conversation is what I take away from this book.

Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2022/10/a-woman-of-intelligence.html

Reviewed for NetGalley.

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Katharina Edgeworth leads an enviable life: her surgeon husband is handsome and rich, her Fifth Avenue apartment is luxe, her two young boys are darling. But she longs to return to her exciting work at the United Nations, where she served as a translator before she quit to make her new husband happy. Then one day an FBI agent appears, asking her to serve her country by insinuating herself into the life of an ex-boyfriend who he alleges is a Russian spy. Rina is desperate to escape her gilded cage—and so she says yes. I wasn't particularly interested in the character's internal struggle but enjoyed the depictions of the early Cold War climate of the mid-1950s.

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It's 1954 and all of the men are back home from the war. Rina is feeling constrained by her roles of wife and stay at home mom when she's asked to be an informant for the FBI.

I love historical fiction novels that have that intelligence aspect, but I didn't think A Woman of Intelligence did the best job of really focusing on that or carrying the intelligence element through the story. It's overshadowed by an underdeveloped romance and flat characters.

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I listened to A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe through the @libby.app. Audiobooks make everything better, including boring household chores.

It’s 1954 in NYC and Katharina Edgeworth has a Fifth Avenue address, two healthy young sons, and a famous pediatric surgeon who is also heir to a shipping fortune. Life should be perfect, but it’s not. Katharina is struggling with the overwhelm of motherhood (it isn’t labeled, but feels like postpartum depression) and she misses her work as a translator for the United Nations. So when she is approached by the FBI and asked to join their ranks as an informant, Katharina seizes the opportunity. A man from her past has become a high-level Soviet spy, but no one has been able to infiltrate his circle.

This was a fascinating story–a look into Cold-War America and the balances and pressures of motherhood. I felt so much for Katharina, even when I felt frustrated by her decisions. This is a woman who is struggling without any help. You wouldn’t think that would be possible with all her resources, but it certainly was. Well done on audio, too!

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In 1954 post-war New York City Katharina Edgeworth is a socialite with every advantage a woman could desire. A handsome, wealthy husband who saves children’s lives on a daily basis as a pediatric surgeon; two beautiful sons and a fancy apartment on Fifth Avenue. But Rina lived another life. She has a graduate degree in languages from Colombia University, speaking four fluently and was deeply passionate about her career at the United Nations. Before motherhood took over every detail of her life, Rina had friends, she traveled and enjoyed an exhilarating social life. Most women would be grateful in her position but all she feels is lost, lonely and regretful. When Rina is mysteriously offered an opportunity from the FBI to assist as an informant, she cannot refuse. Completely out of her comfort zone yet mesmerized by this secrecy and newly found purpose Rina puts her skills and a friendship from her past to work. What initially begins as a way to escape her restlessness quickly turns into unimaginable escapades in the mysterious world of espionage. Rina must find a way to balance subterfuge and responsibility to survive. Fast paced cold war spy novel, A Woman of Intelligence is the perfect mix of history, politics, feminism and family drama.

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A Woman of Intelligence is a first-hand look into a woman pushing gender roles during post-WWII decades. Katharina's role as an interpreter for the United Nations demonstrated how advanced women's education placed them in spheres which challenged the patriarchy, but her eventual step away due to pregnancy fits the norm of social expectations on women. I appreciated the commentary of how isolating motherhood can be and feel like many others would relate to the struggle of career and family. Some of the secondary characters felt a little underdeveloped and their character arcs along with the plot felt rushed in the second half. I enjoyed reading this novel set in New York while I explored the city for the first time and could visualize the places and city details Karin Tanabe included!

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I really wanted to read this book because it was an FBI thriller. However, I could not get into Katharine. She was a very weak character who let her children run over her. Thus, this novel had great promise but was not executed well. Still, I recommend this for fans of The Alice Network!

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Great story with a good cast of characters and a well written, tightly paced plot. I will definitely be reading more by this author!! 4 stars!

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This is a wonderful historical fiction novel about a time period I'm not overly familiar with. I enjoyed seeing a strong woman in a male dominated field and how she handled her situation. I highly recommend this book!

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From the outside, Katharina Edgeworth has the perfect life with a successful doctor husband and two small sons. But from inside her Manhattan apartment, Katharina is struggling her domestic identity as Wife and Mother. She is educated and career-driven, and is now tucked away to raise her children. However, Katharina is soon approached by the FBI to spy on a former college lover who now has strong connections to the Soviet Union. While the Cold War is always an exciting setting, "A Woman of Intelligence" is more character-driven than action-packed.

This book was a slow burn but I was really invested in Katharina's conflict between being a dedicated, stay-at-home wife and FBI informant. I was rooting for her to find resolution in her life. While she didn't always make the right decisions, I was still solidly onboard.

I was in a book rut before reading "A Woman of Intelligence" and this really brought me out of it. Plus it inspired me to learn more about the Cold War so I picked up "Ethel Rosenberg: An American Tragedy" immediately after finishing "A Woman of Intelligence." It was such an interesting era and I give props to Karin Tanabe for the level of detail in her historical novels.

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Refreshing to read historical fiction that is not set during WW2. I really liked how Tanabe explored motherhood and the traditional roles that women faced (and in many ways, continue to face) during the 50s. I do believe that while women have every opportunity available to them today, there still exists pressure to be the "perfect" wife and mother, putting others needs before our own.

Our identity/value/purpose as a woman need not hinge solely on one thing: motherhood or career. Women are multilayered, changing and adapting as they age and seeing Rina know herself, then begin to feel lost and discover her new self was very well done.

I wasn't a fan of the tiptoeing into an affair (or almost an affair) but that didn't completely ruin the book for me.

The publisher provided me with a dARC through Netgalley; this is my honest review.

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Set in 1950's New York, this is a fascinating plot about a woman who once once a translator and now feels she is drowning in domesticity. When the FBI approaches her, asking her to become an agent dealing with the KGB, she is torn by the exciting prospect but agonizes at the dangers it may present to her loved ones. Bold, fearless and clever, Katharina must navigate two worlds. A roller coast of a plot, exhilerating ,Highly recommend!

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