Secrets, Spies and Spotted Dogs

Unravelling mysterious family connections behind a secret adoption

Non-Fiction - Memoir
306 Pages
Reviewed on 09/06/2015
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite

Secrets, Spies & Spotted Dogs by Jane Eales tells the story of the author's adoption and her subsequent search many years later to discover her birth mother's life and trace other family members. The book is divided into four sections. The first part chronicles Jane's upbringing in the Rhodesia of the mid-20th century. Although she grows up blissfully unaware of her adoption, there are a few telltale clues hidden in her memories. In the second section, Jane begins the quest of discovering her origins and connects with several living relatives. The third section focuses on her mother Phyllis's war experiences. Particular attention is paid to her role in military intelligence in the Netherlands. The fourth section of the book looks at the post-war years of Phyllis. Rare family photographs are included, as well as a chronology of her birth mother's fascinating history.

Secrets, Spies & Spotted Dogs by Jane Eales is a well-written, well-researched human interest story with a generous dollop of history thrown in. In an attempt to understand the life and motivation of her birth mother, the author uncovered fascinating details about life in the early to mid-20th century, placing her mother's story within the context of the time, its fears, its anxieties and its triumphs. On that level, the book is clearly well-researched and would be of interest to any amateur historian with an interest in the Second World War and its impact in Europe. In particular, it looks at the campaign to liberate the Netherlands from Nazi rule and the background to the disastrous Battle of Arnhem. The author treats her subject matter with kindness, compassion and respect for their dignity.