Acclaimed author and managing director of The Times Literary Supplement, James MacManus, creates a compelling historical novel that brings to life an unbelievable but true love story set during the Second World War. In 1942, Cork-born Kay Summersby’s life is changed forever when she is tasked with driving General Eisenhower on his fact-finding visit to wartime London. Despite Eisenhower’s marriage to Mamie, the pair takes an immediate liking to one another and he gifts Kay a rare wartime luxury: a box of chocolates. So begins a tumultuous relationship that against all military regulation sees Kay travelling with Eisenhower on missions to far flung places before the final assault on Nazi Germany. She becomes known as “Ike’s shadow” and in letters Mamie bemoans his new obsession with ‘Ireland’. That does not stop him from using his influence to grant Kay US citizenship and rank in the US army, drawing her closer when he returns to America. When the US authorities discover Eisenhower’s plans to divorce from his wife they threaten the fragile but passionate affair and Kay is forced to take desperate measures to hold onto the man she loves…
James MacManus is the managing director of The Times Literary Supplement. After studying at St Andrews University he began his career in journalism at the Daily Express in Manchester. Joining The Guardian in 1972, he later became Paris, and then Africa and Middle East Correspondent. He is the author of several novels including On the Broken Shore, Black Venus, Sleep in Peace Tonight and Midnight in Berlin. James MacManus has three children and lives in Dulwich, London.
Ike and Kay was a truly unexpected delight of a read. It was like being a fly on the wall at a time where everything was so very private and confidential. I honestly didn’t really know much about at Eisenhower and I hadn’t heard of Kay Summersby.
We join Kay in her car waiting to pick up her next General. In her previous driving role she was hurrying through a destroyed London in the dark saving victims of the bombings with the smell of burnt flesh wafting around her from the back seat. Some of the things she saw just couldn’t be unseen.
Now sitting in this car waiting, she can’t believe how lucky she is to have this position. She had no idea how her life would change drastically just by meeting one man.
The book reads like a saga which I love. We get snippets about Mamie, Eisenhower’s wife, back in America and at those moments the reality of the situation is really brought to the forefront.
Mr MacManus brings this true story to the fictional world with such heart. The writing is so beautiful and as I closed the last page on Ike and Kay I immediately went to search out Mr MacManus’s previous releases.
I highly recommend Ike and Kay, a book for anyone who has been in love. Especially those who have fallen for the unobtainable. I loved it and Ike and Kay will stay with me always.
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