The Brass Compass: A Novel by Ellen Butler – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

The Brass CompassThe Brass Compass by Ellen Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Brass Compass is a gripping historical novel by Ellen Butler. The heroine, Lily, is an intelligent young American woman whose youth has been spent living all around Europe. Her fluency in a number of languages and her determination to support the Allied Forces mean she is well suited to work as an OSS agent. When she fears her cover may have been blown, however, she must go on the run and fight to survive the winter as she makes her way to France, where she hopes to be safe.
The story is set in 1945, but Lily’s dreams give the reader flashbacks to her past and some of the major events in WWII. Since we have recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of D Day, I was particularly interested in hearing about Lily’s involvement in that, and another character’s description of parachuting onto the beach.
The Brass Compass is clearly well-researched and is very informative, whilst also being an immersive story. Butler goes into plenty of detail both in describing large, significant events and in Lily’s day-to-day life on the run. We pretty much know everything she has to eat from the start of the story and how she gets it. This is both an interesting insight into rationing and a way for us to get into her head.
This book gets five stars from me. It’s a well-written, entertaining book that transports the reader back in time and sheds some light on an often-overlooked part of the history of WWII. I’d recommend it to fans of spies, survival adventures and WWII.

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