Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Book Review for The Excitements by C.J. Wray

 The Excitements by C.J. Wray

Publication:  January 30, 2024 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Genre:  Historical Fiction


Taken from Goodreads:
  A brilliant and witty drama about two elderly female World War II veterans with a secret past who embark on one last adventure to right some historic wrongs.

Meet the Williamson sisters, Britain’s most beloved World War II veterans. Now in their late nineties, Josephine and Penny are in huge demand, beloved of journalists and producers, popping up on red carpets and at fundraisers and festivals all over the country. Despite their age, they’re still in great form—perfectly put together, sprightly and sparky, and always in search of their next “excitement.”

This time it’s a trip to Paris to receive the Légion d’Honneur for their part in liberating France. As always, they will be accompanied by their devoted gay nephew, Archie, who moved in with his aunts right after he came out. The press has always reported that these lady heroes worked for the Royal Navy and the nursing corps, but that’s their official cover. In reality, Josephine was an intelligence operative who drew maps used for the D-Day invasion while Penny was a spy and specialist at hand-to-combat, risking her teenage life in France. And this trip to Paris is not what it seems either. Scandal and crime have always quietly trailed the Williamson sisters, even in the decades after the war.

Now armed with new information about an old adversary, these much decorated (but admittedly ancient) veterans intend to settle scores, avenge lost friends, and pull off one last, daring heist before the curtain finally comes down on their illustrious careers.

A deliciously fast-paced and witty drama, The Excitements is the tale of two remarkably clever and brave women who helped save the world and survived the unthinkable, without ever losing their killer instinct... or their joie de vivre.


My Thoughts:  I thought I was going to read a WWII history book when I picked up my copy of The Excitements.   While I did get a history lesson, even more I got a fun story about two aunt senior citizens and their amazing nephew living their best lives.    I love that Archie took care of his great aunts, taking them on excitements, and helping them live a full life at their age.  The aunts, Josephine and Penny, sure put him through his paces.   They kept him wondering what would happen next but always showering him with love and taking him with on each excitement. 

 Everything about this book is fun.  The quirky characters were entertaining and kept me guessing at what trouble they would cause next.  The storyline is full of details that brought the book to life as I read it.  I could picture the excitements that the aunts went on as if I was going right along with them.  

 Thank you William Morrow for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


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Meet CJ Wray is the pseudonym of Christine Manby, a Sunday Times bestselling author with more than forty books to her name. Raised in the west of England, she studied psychology before embarking on an entertaining and wide-ranging career that has seen her selling kitchens, editing erotica, interviewing an armed robber, and impersonating a princess.




"An absolute treat of a novel—a glorious, rip-roaring adventure, so funny and charming, yet laced with unexpected moments of real tenderness and reflection. Penny and Josephine are heroines in every sense of the word, being both ordinary and extraordinary, and their personalities leap off the page so energetically that I missed them the moment I finished the final line."

   — Lucy Dillon, Sunday Times bestseller of Unexpected Lessons in Love


The Excitements is a rip-roaring adventure that is both tremendously intriguing and wonderfully engaging. In Penny and Josephine, CJ Wray has created two marvelously endearing and daring National Treasures in waiting. Not all heroes wear capes, some wear M&S cardigans! A triumph!”

   — Mike Gayle, author of All the Lonely People


“Funny, thrilling and brilliantly researched. From the SOE to dodgy knees, its heartwarming description of the adventures of the redoubtable Penny and Josephine, past and present, made me want them, absolutely, as great aunts of my own.” 

   — SJ Bennett, bestselling author of The Windsor Knot


“A joy from beginning to end. I loved the jovial adventures of two fearless female nonagenarian war veterans set alongside their intriguing and often thrilling wartime experiences. It’s utterly wonderful.” 

   — Annie Lyons, author of The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett


“I’m a huge fan of Richard Osman’s books, but after reading this all I can say is, ‘Move over Richard Osman, The Excitements are in town!’ It’s just so good—funny, heartwarming, wise and just so incredibly well-researched.”

   — Alexandra Potter, author of Don’t You Forget About Me




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