World War II threatens to engulf the globe. The beleaguered Soviets, struggling to hold back the rising German tide, face despair and defeat daily. Yet just as all seems lost, a fearless female sniper named Tat'yana Levchenko gains fame in the Battle of Sevastopol with her remarkable composure and stunning skill. Offering hope in her nation's darkest moments, she becomes a Soviet hero, and word of her beauty and prowess eventually reaches Washington, D.C. Soon, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt invites Tat'yana to visit America and tour the country with her.
For the Soviets, Tat'yana's newfound friendship with the wife of the most powerful man in the world is an opportunity to garner public support for a much-needed second front in the warbut it's also a chance to gather information about President Roosevelt's plans. Surrounded by those who would exploit her position, Tat'yana becomes a pawn in a battle for information, and she is forced to question the motivations of everyone she knows, including the American captain who has been assigned as her translator. But as quickly as she rises to fame, Tat'yana vanishes. Did she defect? Was she silencedand if so, by whom? Decades later, a clever journalist will discover Tat'yana's story .... and reveal the truth.
In Beautiful Assassin, Michael White delivers a heartrending story of war, betrayal, and a mother's love that can never be extinguished. Lyrical, evocative, and powerfully moving, this is a tale you will not soon forget.
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Rated of 5
Wendy R. (Riverside, CA)
I have read quite a few books set during or around the Second World War, but never one quite like this, written from the perspective of a female Soviet sniper. It was what first drew me to it and especially intrigued me as I read. Tat'yana is a strong and complex character. I devoured every page of this novel anxious to see where her story would take me. Author Michael White captured the tensions and hardships of war, in particularly for the women who fought alongside the men, as well as the politics being played by the various sides, including the power struggle between the Allied Forces. Tat'yana was a pawn in a game and my heart ached for her. I will definitely be seeking out other books by this author.
Rated of 5
Katharine K. (Alpine, CA)
This is probably not a book I would have found on my own, based on the spy/war theme. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this story. It isn't a "cliff hanger", action type book, but rather a well-developed story about one Russian woman caught up in both the despair and the politics of war. I think the author did a skilled job of presenting both the war experience and the bewildering politics of the time. I read this book slowly and carefully, and I enjoyed every page of the experience.
Rated of 5
Jeff M. (Morris Plains, NJ)
Beautiful Assassin -- Recommended
Really enjoyed the book “Beautiful Assassin”. Story keeps reader’s interest with a good blend of World War II history and great character development, especially the heroine, Tat’yana. You feel for her losses and her disdain for Soviet politics. The historical element is well researched (e.g., descriptions of NYC and Washington during the early part of the war compared to the horrors in Sevastopol) and coupled with real characters (the Roosevelts, Stalin, etc.) adds to the success of the story. Title may give a mixed reaction to some, but if they decide to get into the book, they will be rewarded. Recommended.
Rated of 5
Chris G. (New Albany, Ohio)
Tat'yana Levchenko is a sniper in the Red Army during 1942. She is the heroine of Michael C. White's "Beautiful Assassin", a WWII - era thriller.
Levchenko travels to America as a goodwill ambassador with a stated mission of obtaining financial support and materials for the U.S.S.R as well as to persuade FDR to open a 2nd front in Europe. The US is already fighting in the Pacific but the Europeans desperately need them to enter the war in Europe. Stalin and his secret police have another agenda - one that Tat'yana wants to ignore. Her only goal is to return home and continue killing the German soldiers who are battering her country.
FDR's wife, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt takes a liking to the young woman and she becomes the darling of the American press. Reluctantly, the beautiful sniper goes along with her espionage agent handler's demand that she spy on the first lady. In the end, Tat'yana must make a fateful choice involving an American army captain she's grown to love.
I found the first half the book much more enthralling then the second half. Levchenko's ethical dilemas about spying on Eleanor Roosevelt are interesting to a point but I found her romantic struggles after arriving in the U.S. to be a bit annoying. I struggle with women being made to appear too much the victim that you just want to shake them to snap them out of it or they are such a heavy that you find them annoying.
So for me this book was a struggle and only mildly enjoyable.
Rated of 5
Sandy C. (Houston, TX)
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was a bit slow moving and drawn out at times, yet fast paced in others. As a fan of historical fiction, I enjoyed the aspects of the story that highlighted the tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during WWII as well as the insight into Eleanor Roosevelt’s personal life … although the friendship between Tat’yana and the First Lady as well as the interplay between Tat’yana and her superiors is a bit far-fetched and unbelievable at times. Overall, this book (for me) was just okay.
Rated of 5
Marsha S. (Nags Head, NC)
Beautiful Assassin is a fascinating tale that takes the reader on a journey from war-torn Europe to the United States before America had entered the fight in World War II. I really enjoyed the way it combines historical fact with fiction, and combines real-life characters with those in the story. Anyone who grew up in the 50's and 60's will find the accounts of espionage between the Soviet Union and the U.S. to be very believable and frightening. I was a bit troubled at the beginning of the book believing that the journalist researching Tat'yana's life would get her to talk so easily. But after reading the whole account, and reflecting what it must have been like to live most of one's adult life looking over the shoulder for fear of being found, I could see why she was able to do so. The book made me want to read more from this author.
Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Empire Falls, has said of Soul Catcher, White's previous novel, "The book will be compared to Cold Mountain of course, but Whites book is a more dramatic narrative and every bit as richly detailed and beautifully written. Cain and Rosettas journey is no easy passage, and that ratchets up the dramatic stakes. But while Catcher reads like an adventure story, the book has its own impressive weight. Slavery and its effects are clearly and effectively portrayed as the worm in the American apple, and that gives Cains personal journey a metaphorical heft similar to Huck Finn's. More about this author at his website: michaelcwhite.com
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