Ms. Bridge's books featuring Julia Probyn are a wonder. They are part suspense, part travelogue, part a picture of current events at the time, and in this one, part primer in the Portuguese language.
Here we have diplomats, royalty, country ways, fashion, Big Bad Communists, romance, a wedding, churches and windmills, fast cars, picnics, ocean swims, intrigue, priests, narrow escapes, and kidnapping.
The plot revolves around young Countess Hetta who has just escaped from Communist-run Hungary and has arrived in Lisbon to be reunited with her mother. Hetta is drawn into a scheme by British Intelligence to help identify a Hungarian priest who has also escaped the country and is headed to America.
There are all sorts of spy-type goings on with telephone conversations in code and car chases on winding roads which kept me reading, but mostly I was enjoying learning a bit about the country and its ways.
As for Julia, she appears always at the right time. She is in Lisbon as a freelance journalist to cover a royal wedding. She is confident, smart, fashionable, down-to-earth, and people like her. She knows everyone, thinks quickly on her feet, and doesn't put up with any nonsense. The perfect heroine!
She is in a somewhat on/off relationship with the British Intelligence agent who is in charge of getting this Hungarian priest moved on to America, so there is that bit of romance going on as well.
This is the second in a series of eight books that Ms. Bridge wrote featuring the intrepid journalist and they all take place in different countries. I enjoy the pacing of the novels. The writing moves smoothly between action and information about the locale. It is certainly fun to be a part of Julia Probyn's world.