From “a master of historical fiction” (NPR), Karin Tanabe’s A Woman of Intelligence is an exhilarating tale of post-war New York City, and one remarkable woman’s journey from the United Nations, to the cloistered drawing rooms of Manhattan society, to the secretive ranks of the FBI.
A Fifth Avenue address, parties at the Plaza, two healthy sons, and the ideal husband: what looks like a perfect life for Katharina Edgeworth is anything but. It’s 1954, and the post-war American dream has become a nightmare.
A born and bred New Yorker, Katharina is the daughter of immigrants, Ivy-League-educated, and speaks four languages. As a single girl in 1940s Manhattan, she is a translator at the newly formed United Nations, devoting her days to her work and the promise of world peace—and her nights to cocktails and the promise of a good time.
Now the wife of a beloved pediatric surgeon and heir to a shipping fortune, Katharina is trapped in a gilded cage, desperate to escape the constraints of domesticity. 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. Enter Katharina, the perfect woman for the job.
Navigating the demands of the FBI and the secrets of the KGB, she becomes a courier, carrying stolen government documents from D.C. to Manhattan. But as those closest to her lose their covers, and their lives, Katharina’s secret soon threatens to ruin her.
With the fast-paced twists of a classic spy thriller, and a nuanced depiction of female experience, A Woman of Intelligence shimmers with intrigue and desire.
Karin Tanabe is a fiction writer and former Politico reporter whose writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post among many other publications. Before turning to fiction, Karin worked as a journalist covering politics and lifestyle. She has made frequent appearances on Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition and CNN. A graduate of Vassar College, she lives in Washington D.C.
When Katherina Edgeworth marries her handsome pediatric surgeon, she gives up an independent lifestyle to become a 1950’s housewife.
Before her marriage, Katherina works as an interpreter at the newly formed United Nations Building in New York. She loves the challenge of her job, her friends, and an exuberant nightlife, but then she meets Tom Edgeworth and falls in love.
Though more chaotic, what with the commitments required by Manhattan’s upper class and her daily commute, Katherina makes it work until she becomes pregnant and is forced to give up her career.
Trapped by a life she doesn’t want, Katherina accepts the opportunity to escape the bonds of motherhood- if only for a few precious hours- to become an undercover spy for the FBI. A man she once knew intimately in college is a high-ranking official in the Soviet Union and Katherina is tasked with gaining his trust as a courier delivering ‘stolen‘ US documents to the KGB.
Danger lurks around every corner, but Katherina has never felt more alive. With tensions rising at home, an illicit attraction tempts her to make a decision that will change her life forever.
This story highlights the expectations of housewives in the 1950’s, but more than that, it puts a spotlight on post war strain, the fear of communism, and racial tension.
Altogether an absorbing read!
“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”