cover image Love by the Morning Star

Love by the Morning Star

Laura L. Sullivan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-547-6895

Sullivan (Ladies in Waiting) presents a charming tale of mistaken identity, one that’s perhaps too lightweight for its historical setting. After Kristallnacht, German-Jewish Hannah arrives in England to stay with her snobbish relatives, but she is mistaken for kitchen maid Anna. A freethinking child of Weimar-era Berlin, the irrepressible Hannah shocks her stuffy British employers, unselfconsciously lecturing the lusty Lord Liripip on droit du seigneur and singing opera among the yew trees by night. Anna, a self-centered social climber painted in refreshing shades of gray, delights in her new position as the Liripips’ refugee relative, but worries about the mysterious mission her Nazi-sympathizer father wants her to carry out. Sullivan’s wry and evocative omniscient voice makes Hannah and Anna’s escapades a pleasure to read, though it tells rather than shows too often. Farcical and decidedly risqué misunderstandings ensue as Hannah and Anna compete for the affections of the idealistic son of the manor, and Anna’s fascist handlers prove increasingly ruthless. The rushed denouement stretches plausibility, but the book’s gentle humor and good-natured optimism offset these minor drawbacks. Ages 12–up. (June)