Review

“A deftly crafted and thoroughly fun read … especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.” —MBR Midwest Book Review

Untold War Tales: The Lipstick Bureau

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The Lipstick Bureau by Michelle Gable is a striking historical fiction novel that brings to light the untold tales of women who worked for the OSS (predecessor to the CIA) in World War II. Based on real-life events, this novel illuminates the heroic efforts of women during a time when they were often marginalized and overlooked.

The story follows multilingual newlywed Niki Novotna, who was recruited by the OSS to a team tasked with establishing a secret branch in Rome. The team is a motley crew of artists, forgers and others whose purpose is to craft fake stories and disseminate propaganda to lower the morale of enemy soldiers. And the guidelines for producing the propaganda were chilling:

“Propaganda should not be addressed to the intellectuals but always to the masses… Propaganda should be directed to the emotions rather than to the intellect… Propaganda must be popular and its level must be low enough for it to impress itself on the simplest mind… These were the notions on which the Morale Operations manual was based, all of them lifted from Hitler’s dastardly text.”
― Michelle Gable,
The Lipstick Bureau

The work is treacherous and the risks are high, but Niki quickly finds herself drawn to the thrilling world of espionage and the sense of purpose it provides her.

One of the most impressive aspects of The Lipstick Bureau is how Gable is able to blend historical accuracy with fictional storytelling. It’s clear that she has done her research, but she never lets the history bog down the plot. Instead, she weaves in details seamlessly, creating a truly immersive reading experience.

At its core, The Lipstick Bureau is a story about women who are willing to risk everything for their country. It’s a reminder that women have always been a vital part of history, even if their stories have often gone untold. Through Niki and her fellow agents, Gable shows readers what true bravery looks like, and the sacrifices that these women made in service of their country.

Overall, The Lipstick Bureau is a captivating and well-written novel that sheds light on an important piece of history. Michelle Gable has crafted a story that is both informative and emotional, and it’s clear that she has a deep respect for the women who served in the OSS during World War II. This novel is a must-read for anyone interested in historical fiction or women’s history.


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