Portsmouth - Spies, U-boats, and Romance on the Outer Banks

portsmouth bookcoverPortsmouth is set on the North Carolina Outer Banks in 1942 during the Battle of the Atlantic when German U-boats operated freely off the east coast of North Carolina. Two German U-Boats were sunk off the North Carolina Coast that spring, the U-85 and the U-352. We follow Kurt Sanger, a German who came ashore on the Outer Banks and falls in love with a local girl while on a spy mission.

Published: Sep. 04, 2009
Words: 77,740
Language: English
ISBN: 9781458171481

5 Star Amazon Review

by Gael M. Hawkins, June 23, 2008

"A terrific read for anyone interested in the Barrier Islands of NC and their amazing history plus a little bit of Nicholas Sparks-ish love story woven in to make all of us baby boomers recall what young love on the beach was like. The early years of WWII off the US coast have been kept secret from the average American until recently. This novel recounts the bravery and hardships endured by so many ordinary citizens caught up in that period and also provides an accurate glimpse into the particular culture of the coastal fishing villages that struggled to survive the elements, the changing moires...and the Germans! Grab a chair, prop up your feet and turn off the phone for several enjoyable hours."

Ed Norvell to sign new books

By Deirdre Parker Smith, Salisbury Post, July 20, 2008

"Norvell did a lot of research, especially into local history, and uses it to give the book authenticity."

Ed Norvell has a great chance to work on his dream of writing.

With a house on Ocracoke, he has spent the past several summers creating the worlds of two books, "Portsmouth" and "Shadows."

His first book, "Southport," showcased the history of the place, and "Portsmouth" gave him a chance to delve further into "the local history and local lore."

The story takes place during World War II, when German U-boats prowled the coast of North Carolina.

Norvell uses the history of the events and wraps it up in the story of a young widowed woman who lives on the island.

"It's already in all the bookstores and gift shops" in the Ocracoke area, Norvell says.

He did a lot of research, especially into local history, and uses it to give the book authenticity. The U-boats 352 and 85 mentioned in the book are very real, as was the Enigma code machine that wasn't found until the 1980s in the wreckage of U-85 and is now in the museum at the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Read more: Ed Norvell to sign new books

North Carolina Books (Synopsis)

North Carolina Libraries, Fall/Winter 2008

By Judi Bugniazet, Montreat College

"The plot is believable and the description of the island life wonderful."

Edward P. Norvell, an attorney working for non-profit land trusts across the state of North Carolina, has written several short stories and a previous book, Southport, A Story of Second Chances. He has a MA in English and creative writing from the City University of New York and a law degree from Wake Forest University.

North Carolina during World War II does not usually bring up images of spies, U-boats, or German submarines, but in 1942 German submarines were all along the East Coast both spying and sinking cargo boats, pleasure craft, and other submarines. The British navy was also present in our coastal waters; without its help, the American navy would have lost far more ships to German U-boats. Many of the details of the operations of the –boats and the British navy are mentioned in this nook. It was very interesting to read a book of fiction that was so well researched; the attention to historical detail makes this a fascinating book.

Read more: North Carolina Books (Synopsis)

New book set on Portsmouth Island combines history and romance

By Sundae Horn, Island Free Press, July 9, 2008

Portsmouth is chock full of well-researched historical detail woven in and around a wartime love story.”

The newly-published novel, "Portsmouth: Spies, U-Boats and Romance on the Outer Banks" by Edward P. Norvell, is chock full of well-researched historical detail woven in and around a wartime love story.

If you were a lonely young widow on Portsmouth Island, and you found a handsome sailor washed up on the beach, wouldn't you take him home and feed him? That's what Marcia Styron does when she finds Sub-lieutenant Bruce Hall one morning in May, 1942. After he rests from his ordeal, he tells her he's a British officer, the lone survivor of the HMS Bedfordshire, which was torpedoed off the coast of Ocracoke. The two take a liking to each other, and this being a romance, Marcia offers to keep the shipwrecked sailor for the Coast Guard until they need him for questioning.

But Bruce Hall isn't who he appears to be. He is, in fact, a German submariner named Kurt Sanger sent ashore to find out how much the Americans know about German U-boats and the Enigma code machine that recently went down with the U-85. While Marcia goes shopping in the village, her ersatz sailor sets up radio contact with his German superiors and plots to fool Marcia and spy for his country.

Read more: New book set on Portsmouth Island combines history and romance

Tar Heel Literature (synopsis)

Our State Magazine, April 2009, Lisa Morgan

"Norvell skillfully weaves a riveting tale of espionage and romance—to craft a compelling drama."

As seagulls cartwheel above the shore and the summer warmth bakes the white sands, death prowls the North Carolina coast in Edward P. Norvell's new novel Portsmouth. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of World War II and the submerged battle raging off the coast, the story reveals just how close our state was to the warfront. By July 1942, at least 65 German U-boats sank or damaged 397 American and British ships off North Carolina, and 5,000 people lost their lives. Set in the context of an intriguing love story, Portsmouth reveals our state's unique history in the country's war effort.

Marcia Styron, a young war widow, sets out on her morning walk to collect seashells. However, this morning, instead of shells, she finds wreckage and bodies washed up on the shore of Portsmouth Island. Marcia rescues one survivor flailing helplessly in the surf and nurses him back to health; she has no idea that the man she knows as British submariner Bruce Hall is really Kurt Sanger, a German spy sent to learn the fate of the U-85 submarine and the Enigma code machine on board.

Read more: Tar Heel Literature (synopsis)