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.
In an effort to secure a secret operation in her island cottage, Kurt fools Marcia into a love affair. But as his mission progresses, Kurt realizes that he has met the love of his life. Whether their relationship survives the toils of war hinges on the power of forgiveness.
Norvell skillfully weaves a riveting tale of espionage and romance, using the contrast between the two lovers' cultures and perspectives to craft a compelling drama that reveals much about a way of life and a period of time unknown by many North Carolinians.