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Red, White, Blue

by Lea Carpenter

Red, White, Blue by Lea Carpenter X
Red, White, Blue by Lea Carpenter
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  • Published Aug 2018
    320 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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  • Judith S. (Binghamton, NY)
    Intellectually entertaining
    Red, White, Blue is a thinking person's book. Similar to international films, the reader is not spoon fed or taken for a quick read ride through the story. Carpenter gives us a sneak peak into the work of intelligence and espionage in a style that is thought provoking, thrilling and philosophical. I found the need to focus through the unusual sequence of chapters invigorating although some may find it cumbersome or confusing, hence the need to take it slow and think it through while reading. Overall the book is fascinating, funny, educational and relevant.
  • Marcia C. (Jeffersonville, PA)
    Worlds of Deception
    Red, White, Blue is a book centered in deception—the deceptions of the CIA, the deceptions of its agents; the half-truths that are shared in Anna's family and the half-truths used by the author to describe the evolution of the truth that underlies the story. In the middle of it all stands Anna, a young woman, recently married, who is determined to answer the questions surrounding her father's death in an avalanche in Switzerland.
    While she is on her honeymoon, Anna has a seemingly chance encounter with a gentleman in a bar in the south of France. Over time, this gentleman, a CIA caseworker, reveals his close working relationship with Anna's father, Noel, who was a major CIA operative in the Far East. Anna knew nothing of her father's work. She begins to see him with new eyes and to question her father, herself and their lives together.
    Scene by scene the pieces of Noel's life are revealed, like an onion being peeled one layer at a time. Often a key scene is not presented in its entirety. Facts are omitted, contexts are altered, only to be replayed and clarified later in the book. My understanding kept evolving along with Anna's. In the end, I was left with truths that kept shifting under my feet. I finished the book wondering "what is true?"
    Red, White, Blue is an intriguing read, hard to put down, and well worth the effort.
  • Arden A. (Longboat Key, FL)
    Not your typical spy novel
    This is an excellent spy novel, interestingly presented with so much information embedded in each sentence that you tend to reread paragraphs so as not to miss anything. It toggles back and forth between the voice of a spy and the voice of the daughter of a spy, about her father, who was a spy, and his untimely death.

    "Clandestine is something completely hidden fom view, as opposed to covert, which means something that appears as something else."

    "At the end of the day what differentiates you in this line of work isn't teachable. Teachables are icing."

    "Espionage isn't a math problem, Anna, it's a painting."

    Those quotes are just the tip of the iceberg of the style and depth of this delicious novel.
  • Molly B. (Longmont, CO)
    Spare is great
    The alternating story lines and the spare prose in Red, White, and Blue kept my interest, to the point of fascination. Carpenter provided some insight into the workings of undercover and CIA operations, which I assume are largely true – they certainly seemed plausible. What I liked best were the little pearls of wisdom presented quite naturally throughout the book, like "You don't have a sense of danger until you've experienced loss". And any reader who is a parent will react to the conversation between the protagonist's parents right after she was born: the mother says, "Maybe she'll fight for justice" and the father says, "Maybe she'll just be happy." There were parts that were confusing, like the ending, because the writing is cryptic. But I would so much rather read cryptic writing that I have to work for (and will probably reread immediately) than a bunch of gratuitous verbiage that I have to wade through to get one little idea. This book was the opposite, and I am grateful for this kind of writing.
  • M K. (Minneapolis, MN)
    What Do You Know?
    Picture yourself, it's mid week, and now, after dinner you decide it's time to start the book all your friends have been raving about. Unless you're willing to not get any sleep this mid week night it might be better to wait for a rainy afternoon in which at the worst you'll have to call your boss and tell her that you'll be a little late the next morning. Red, White, Blue is that kind of book.

    Reading the first few pages you notice a certain crispness about the writing, very straightforward and yet sucking you into its intriguing vortex of two simultaneous stories: one of a person applying to work in counterintelligence for the CIA and the training that they go through and the other story of a daughter of an agent and what she knows and doesn't know and how it impacts her life. What is it like to have a spy for a father? What can you believe about someone you love and who loves you who lies for a living? You may be able to put the book down for some hours before you finish it but it will stay with you like an insect buzzing around you that only can hear. And when you finish it, the book will live with you a bit longer until you're ready to move on with your life.

    For the spy genre, this book holds your attention from the first few pages to the end and beyond. If you enjoy being consumed by a book, this book, Red, White, Blue is for you.
  • Maureen R. (Alamo, CA)
    Red, White, Blue, What America Asks
    Red, White, Blue by Lea Carpenter is a whole new genre of spy novel. Brilliantly crafted, it is smart and the reader is smarter for having read it. Narrated in two voices, it is more than an inside look at the CIA, it is a look at what working for the CIA demands in personal sacrifice. Not just for the agents, but for all those who love them. This is a politically savvy and pertinent novel in these times of geopolitical and national turmoil. I will never watch the news in the same way. This book answers questions I didn't know to ask.
  • Becky M. (Crumpler, NC)
    Something Can Look Chaotic
    "Something can look quite still and be in a state of total chaos . . . something can look chaotic when in fact it is absolutely controlled"--a quote from Red, White, Blue which not only describes life in the Intelligence world but this novel as well. Told in a back and forth play between Q and A (You never hear the questions!) and the chronology of Anna's life, the reader experiences the awakening of a young woman who learns of her father's life in espionage along with details of the CIA and how it operates. As Anna confronts the untimely death of her father, she also struggles with her husband's success and entrance into politics. Yet her devotion to both her father and her husband lead her to come to terms with secrets, loss, and self-awareness. It took a while to adjust to the every-other-chapter approach, but now that I've completed the novel, I think it would be interesting to read the Q and A chapters consecutively, and then read Anna's story in the same way.

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