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Charlotte Philby Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Most Difficult Thing (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Double Life (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Part of the Family (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Charlotte Philby is a mystery author whose surname has been said to be perfect for an author of investigative/spy novels. She is the daughter to Kim Philby who was a British intelligence officer that turned out to have been a double agent. During World War II and the Cold War, he had been part of the Cambridge Five spy ring and regularly passed on information to the Soviet Union. For several years, Charlotte worked as a features writer for magazines, newspaper journalist, and in the meantime also became a founder of an online magazine that tackled issues of parenthood. The reason for this was that she had freelanced a lot when she had her second child. She has now become a fiction author and writes mystery novels inspired by the double agent story of her grandfather. She also looks at how espionage and lies can impact relationships and families rather than just the state, as is commonly believed. Her debut novel ”The Most Difficult Thing” was published in 2019 with “Double Life” her second work coming out in 2020.

Philby has always wanted to write novels for a very long time. She wrote her first draft at a very low point in her life while she was on maternity leave from her job in the newspapers. She used to write the passages of her novel “The End,” while her baby slept. Soon after she went back to work and started querying agents. None of the agents liked her manuscript and within a few weeks she lost confidence and almost gave up on becoming an author. It was only in 2017 after she had her third baby and had shut down her third business to go freelance that she decided to give it another go. Philby took an online writing creative course and soon after, the idea for her debut novel started crystalizing. She took the plunge into fiction writing from her chosen career in journalism because she had some misgivings about it. As a journalist, she had been taught to write stories within certain word counts and constraints. For instance, she would have been asked to churn out say 2000 words a day, which was great for enhancing productivity but not for creativity. She was also used to getting her work edited and valued the judgment of others which is a negative when it comes to creativity. While she had gotten used to the constrictions of journalism, she never liked it as she likes imagining and exploring the story as she tells it. As such, she took the first opportunity to try her hand as an author when it presented itself.

In an interview with the Guardian, Charlotte Philby said that her debut was partly inspired by the disappearance of her grandfather. She got very interested in how ordinary people think of spies and people who betray or dupe others. Most people who think about spies, such as her grandfather Kim Philby only look at it from the perspective of what his betrayal did to those that he worked with in intelligence. She thought that no one seemed to care that he had a wife and five children at home who were just as shocked at his betrayal. Once she started getting her own children she thought long and hard about what it would take and what it would look like if a woman left her family as her grandfather did. Both her second novel “A Double Life,” and her debut “The Most Difficult Thing” are about a woman that walks out of home and family to make for a very high stakes situation. While they are very different stories, both narratives are themed on the conflict a woman has to deal with. She is committed to a job/cause, which is in opposition to family obligations. She also has to deal with paranoia and a strong inner struggle, which is inevitable given that she has to live a double life trying to satisfy the competing interests.

Charlotte Philby’s “The Most Difficult Thing” is an intricately constructed novel with a setting in a fantastical world. The lead is a mother to two girls named Anna Witherall who is living the good life. She has a job she likes and a wealthy husband that she has been together with since college. But something is wrong as she is hiding something. As a second-year student, she had been friends with David her husband. After she graduated, she attempted to craft her own career path, and, in the process, she had met an investigative journalist named Harry. She had been smitten with the journalist, but over the years they had lost touch and she had gotten married to David. His father is a well-known businessman who gives them his holiday home in Greece to spend some of their vacations in. It is in Greece that Anna came to learn of some of the secrets from her husband’s past. She also meets an old childhood friend of David named Maria who helps out with the children once the couple decides to go back to the UK. Anna had found it hard to adjust to being a mother and hence Maria and her expertise and love for children came in handy even though she believed it was only a temporary arrangement. But several months later, her marriage is growing cold as she discovers a complex web of deceit and lies.

Charlotte Philby’s “A Double Life” tells the story of a senior negotiator for the FCO named Gabriela. She is in charge of a powerful but small team of agents that work in counterterrorism from their base in Whitehall. She is a hardworking and tenacious worker married to a freelance architect who often looks after their children when she is too busy with work. But when she has to go to Moscow, she comes back and has a feeling that something is just not right. Meanwhile, a local journalist named Isobel is walking home one evening when she is witness to a gruesome attack. She thought no one had seen her but a few days later, the persons responsible for the attack start sending her terrifying messages in a bid to procure her silence. Always the consummate journalist, she begins investigating and soon discovers a shadowy cabal of exploitation that is also involved in human trafficking. The more Isobel fleshes put the story, the more Gabriel’s life comes apart. One woman is desperate to hide the truth while the other is determined to hide it even as their lives converge. It is a compelling novel that is a deeply chilling and beautifully written story of deception.

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