Who is Vera Kelly by Rosalie Knecht: Smart, suspenseful and engaging. I very much liked Vera Kelly, but not for the reasons I thought I would. When I read the words “spy novel” I thought I’d be reading about a very badass Bond-like babe but Vera turned out to be a vulnerable, resourceful young woman, but highly badass in her own right.
Vera is a CIA agent stationed in Argentina in 1966, just trying to do her job…the beginning started off a little too politically centered for me, but the story kept me intrigued and I found myself reading for the flashbacks we got taking us back to adolescent Vera in the US in the 50’s and beyond. While they were a little too few and far between for my taste they kept me hooked. Then the second half of the book picked up in the “current” story and allowed the reader to piece together who Vera Kelly is and how she got there.
This was a great piece of historical fiction set mostly in Argentina in the mid 60’s. Political unrest combined with a single woman alone in a strange country at that time lends itself to an intense and exciting story. While I really enjoyed learning more about events in this ever interesting decade, I found myself woefully ignorant to Argentinian history, realizing the most that I know comes from Evita (but man, do I love Evita!)
This is a thrilling female-centric spy novel with elements that involve sexism in the 50’s, the lack of understanding of mental disorders in our prior century and sexual exploration during an unforgiving era. With less action than I anticipated, but more commentary on life as a woman in the 50 and 60’s than I had expected, Who Is Vera Kelly reads like your typical spy novel meets The Bell Jar and Vera Kelly becomes the unlikely heroine we never knew we craved!
Thanks to Tin House Books for this copy to read and review. I received my copy for free in exchange for my honest review and opinions.