Friday, August 7, 2015

Kate Breslin's "Not by Sight" - an intriguing novel of intrigue

Cover ArtIn the midst of WWI, Grace Mabry, a patriotic British suffragette, infiltrates a society ball to distribute white feathers of cowardice to high ranking able-bodied men who had thus far avoided battle, little realizing how handing out one feather will change her life--and the life of an MI5 agent--forever . . .

While I've read a lot of books about WWII, I've read very few about WWI, thus this novel proved illuminating for me. With a focus on spies--with Mata Hari as a prime example--and British agriculture programs, there was a lot to discover! And a couple things struck me as odd, as though brought forward from the past: I had thought invisible inks had gone to the wayside by 1800 (turns out they made a comeback in WWI), and the Splatter Mask mentioned in the story looks like something out of medieval times.

I ended up really liking the band of women comprising the Women's Forage Corps. Each woman has her faults, but each one also proves more than what she initially seems. And while they certainly have their conflicts among themselves, they become a solid support group for each other, standing together when it counts, like true friends should.

The book is aptly named; not only in reference to physical blindness, but also to faith. Symbolism plays a large role in the story--the masks, the costume choices, sight--making for a mature read. It's not just a bit of romantic fluff; it's a story that makes you think.

I really enjoyed this Beauty and the Beast-like tale. Not only are there parallels with the fairy tale, but also allusions to Greek mythology and Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, making it a literary delight, as well as a satisfying romance and historical read. 5 out of 5 stars!

Thank you Bethany House for providing a free book in exchange for a review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.

And just so you know exactly what kind of mask the book talks about, here's a helpful image:
WWI Splatter Mask  By Gaius Cornelius (Photographed by me. Army Medical Services Museum.) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

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