book review,  Books

Dragonfly by Leila Meacham – Book Tour Review and Giveaway

I have been WAITING to share Dragonfly with you. It’s a gorgeous, sweeping historical drama with you and I’m excited to join up with Lone Star Lit to share it, along with a giveaway for a chance to receive one of two signed copies. Read on to find out why I adore this book and enter our giveaway. Full disclosure, I was provided a copy of this gorgeous book by the author and as always, all opinions are my own, and this post may contain affiliate links.





Genre: Historical / WWII / Espionage
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 
Date of Publication: July 9, 2019
Number of Pages: 576

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Roses comes a gripping new novel about five young spies embedded among the highest Nazi ranks in occupied Paris

At the height of World War II, a handful of idealistic young Americans receive a mysterious letter from the government, asking them if they are willing to fight for their country. The men and women from very different backgrounds-a Texan athlete with German roots, an upper-crust son of a French mother and a wealthy businessman, a dirt-poor Midwestern fly fisherman, an orphaned fashion designer, and a ravishingly beautiful female fencer-all answer the call of duty, but each for a secret reason of her or his own. They bond immediately, in a group code-named Dragonfly. 

Thus begins a dramatic cat-and-mouse game, as the group seeks to stay under the radar until a fatal misstep leads to the capture and the firing-squad execution of one of their team. But…is everything as it seems, or is this one more elaborate act of spycraft?


“Meacham’s impeccable pacing and razor-wire tension evoke the daily drama of life under a Reich whose French reign might have lasted little more than four years but felt like the thousand years that it threatened to endure.” ―Bookpage

“Meacham’s nail-biting tale will please fans looking for an intricate story of spycraft and deception.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Meacham ratchets the suspense ever tighter, while providing fascinating backstory on the intrepid five [American spies] as well as delivering a detail-rich portrait of Paris during the Occupation.” ―Booklist

“Complex, epic, and rich in historical detail-an uplifting story of finding friendship behind enemy lines.” ― Kirkus


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I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and I have a deep love for WWII fiction, particularly those with female protagonists. I don’t necessarily gravitate towards spy novels, and while Dragonfly IS a tale of espionage, it reads more like literary fiction with beautiful, concise prose, superb imagery, and simply wonderful storytelling. It is a story of bravery, adventure, friendship, survival, and self-discovery,

Dragonfly is one EPIC book. (At 576 pages, if big books are overwhelming to you, grab this in eBook format as you will be so absorbed you won’t even realize the length). The meat and potatoes of the book span from May 1942 to August 1944, when five young adults are recruited by the OSS to run a clandestin operation in France. The plot is engrossing and nerve-wracking, as this was a time in France when the slightest thing might arouse suspicion, and the circumstances the five spies often found themselves in will leave you holding your breath!

She knew that informers were everywhere, their treachery field by desperation for food, medicine, travel permits, the release of a loved one from prison, or simply out of petty jealousy or a personal desire for revenge. No place and no one was safe. the most innocent actions could be reported as suspicious to the Gestapo and French police.

What felt unusual was that she didn’t paint the German and French characters with a broad brush. While some German characters are exactly how you would expect them to be depicted, other characters are unexpected, creating empathy for German officers who are not happy with how the war was going, or creating a feeling of revulsion for treachery on the part of French nationals.

Meacham successfully weaves together individual plotlines and subplots to make a layered and complex story. Characters find themselves in dangerous situations and cleverly work their way out, especially when plotline unexpectedly overlap. It’s all a bit of luck and circumstance and opportunity mixed together with a lot of risks.

She also does an incredible job with the setting, one aspect of the book that drew me in on an emotional level. Her writing beautifully reflects a sense of the time – the faded beauty of a war-torn Paris, the tension, fear, and suspicion felt by the French as well as the fierce pride they held for their country.

Leila Meacham is wonderful at character development and the characters in this story are realistic and complex, brave, and diverse in their backgrounds. They are literally plucked out of their regular lives and put in this very unexpected role that is both secret and important, and that is part of what makes it so fascinating.

In fact, this was one of the things that made Dragonfly so believable and nerve-wracking, as they are NOT highly skilled spies, but simply ordinary people with skills that precisely fit what the government needed. And ordinary people tend to do foolish things.

You see, adding another layer of complexity is that several of the characters have other reasons for being in France, personal reasons that, in chasing them, add to the danger. Some of their actions are NOT those of a skilled spy, but of a person driven by their emotions. Mix in a few unfortunate coincidences and you will find your nails bitten to the quick!

The story is told from multiple and alternating points of view and chapters transition smoothly from one character to the next. (I confess I had a bit of trouble at the start keeping their code names straight as they all start with the letter “L” – but this is unsurprising as I’m generally terrible at names in real life.)

The plot unfolds steadily and there are risks and near misses at every turn, and with them come some twists that I definitely did not expect. These extraordinary characters will pull you into their stories and keep you turning pages.

The title of the book comes from the team’s code name, suggested by Brad Hudson, a fly-fisherman who will use those skills as his cover in France.

“Easy to spot but not to catch. They are natural escape artists.”

One thing you will not escape is the draw of this book. It is quite possibly one of the best I’ve read this year. I will recommend it both to fans of historical fiction and I will be pushing it for my book club (despite the length) as it is gorgeous and emotional and nail-biting all at once.

Leila Meacham is a writer and former teacher who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She is the author of the bestselling novels Roses, Tumbleweeds, Somerset, and Titans.




August 7-17, 2019

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