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Sisters in Resistance by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Sisters in Resistance is a non-fiction book that reads like a spy thriller.

A truly astonishing tale, the book brings together Edda Mussolini, the daughter of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, German spy Hilde Beetz and American socialite Frances De Chollet. They were instrumental in getting sensational diaries written by Galeazzo Ciano, Italy’s former foreign minister and Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law, into the hands of the Allies to be used as evidence in later war crime trials.

Galeazzo was stuck in prison when his wife Edda issued Hitler and her father an ultimatum in 1943 – release him, or she would leak his dairies to the press. These diaries were explosive – full of information about the Nazis that could be used for war crimes prosecution. Hitler and Mussolini were determined to get the diaries back, so they ordered German Hilde Beetz to go undercover and seduce Galeazzo, a known playboy and womaniser. But Hilde ended up falling in love with Galeazzo and risked it all to try and save him. When Edda flees to Switzerland, enter American Frances, who is tasked with befriending her and gaining her trust in the hope of securing the diaries for the United States.

The race is on to save the dairies and for people to hopefully come out of this tangled mess with their lives – chased by Gestapo agents every step of the way.

Sisters in Resistance is a unique real-life story with many twists and turns along the way. Part of it is harrowing, but what shines through is the courage of the central characters in these extraordinary events in history. It’s not a spoiler to say that some of the diaries made it safely to the Allies, but how many, what did they contain, and what happened to each of these people? You will need to read to find out.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan



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