Queen High

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By C. J. Carey; reviewed by Jeannette Hartman

This sequel to WIDOWLAND opens two years after the Leader is assassinated in Oxford and one year after King Edward VIII dies, leaving Queen Wallis Warfield Simpson Windsor on the throne.

Rose Ransom has managed to escape arrest but she’s living in a dangerous world.

The handsome, Eton-educated Douglas Powell, who interrogated Rose and then released her after the Leader’s assassination, has become her frequent social companion. The editor of The Echo newspaper, he is the epitome of an English gentleman. He has been pushing Rose toward marriage but without asking her for intimacies or sexual favors.

For Rose, it is as if the past two years “had been spent in limbo, watching and waiting, alert to each unexpected footfall, very glance from a stranger in the street, each friendly contact. Two years in which vigilance became not so much habit as muscle memory. In which she had become her own secret policeman, observing every move she made.

“Two years in which she had cultivated a demeanor so impassive, it was as if some calcifying malaise had turned her to stone and she was only waiting for some enchanted touch to reanimate her.”

She has been promoted from editing novels to revising poetry to reflect the values of The Protectorate. But when she goes home, it feels “almost as if the place had been ransacked and then everything replaced in an identical position.”

There’s new leadership on the mainland: SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler has succeeded the Leader. Martin Bormann, a convicted murderer and formerly the Leader’s secretary, has become the new Commissioner of Culture. His cultural interests are limited.

At his first all-employee meeting, Bormann announces that U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie will be visiting the Alliance in two weeks.

The U.S. Embassy has been shuttered since September 1940. Now, Bormann tells his staff, the Eisenhower visit will seal an international friendship treaty between the Anglo-Saxon Alliance and the United States.

Mrs. Eisenhower has expressed an interest in the lives of women in the Alliance. The Culture Ministry will be emphasizing “the feminine virtues the Alliance cherishes. Subservience, obedience, submission to male authority. Purity,” Bormann tells his staff. The Queen will be centerpiece of this push, he adds.

Through Powell’s influence, Rose is given two special assignments. The first is to attend and report on underground poetry readings, which the Alliance believes are being used to fuel the resistance movement. The second is to meet with Queen Wallis and report on her mental fitness to meet the Eisenhowers alone.

Each assignment takes Rose deeper into danger, closer to the resistance movement and to reconnecting with her love, Oliver Ellis.

Hope is scarce in a world where tanks rumble down main streets, memory “retraining” is a regular event and those who don’t follow the rules can be “bleached,” removed from photographs, jobs and all social support.

The term “Queen High” of the title refers to a poker hand with one high card — a Queen.

The American-born Queen Wallis is a poker player in her own right. A horrible item she won in a game with Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister, proves to be the perfect weapon against its previous owners.

This is definitely a series that should be read in order. The first book ended with such finality, it was hard to believe a sequel could be written. It takes some patience at the opening of this book to understand how and why Rose has survived the past two years.

QUEEN HIGH ends as triumphantly as WIDOWLAND. My only question is will there be a third book?

The Author: C. J. Carey

C. J. Carey is a novelist, journalist and broadcaster. She has worked at The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and the BBC, among other media outlets.

Under the pen name Jane Thynne, she writes a series of mysteries featuring Clara Vine, a young Anglo-German actress, who goes to Berlin in 1933 to find work at the famous UFA studios.

WIDOWLAND was the first novel she wrote under the name C. J.Carey.


#CJCarey. #JaneThynne #queenhigh #jeannettehartman


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