Robert. The Company of Strangers. Harcourt. Oct 2001. c.480p.
ISBN 0-15-100846-9. $25.00. Fiction.
This uneven but ultimately satisfying novel follows the life
of Andrea Aspinall, recruited by British intelligence to
gather secrets in Lisbon near the end of World War II. Following
a disastrous affair with Karl Voss, the German military attaché, a relationship that apparently results in his execution, Andrea
marries a Portuguese major. When her husband and son both die fighting in the
colonial wars in Africa in 1968, Andrea returns to London. She becomes involved
with Communists, returns to work for the SIS, and is sent on a risky mission
to East Berlin, where traitors abound and long-held secrets hold their own risks.
Wilson, award-winning author of A Small Death in Lisbon, returns to the same
atmospheric settings in Portugal (where he is at his best) and Germany, but the
Byzantine plot and half-century time span detract from the penetrating analysis
of the human heart that makes this novel worth reading. Recommended for larger