The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe

*If you are new here, WELCOME! For The Librarian Spy, I provide your book club with a brief summary, food ideas and a recipe, and discussion questions in that order!

The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe

The Librarian Spy is Madeline Martin’s second historical women’s fiction novel. Her first, The Last Bookshop in London, was also a WWII era novel and received rave reviews.

Although this is Martin’s second women’s fiction novel, she has been writing historical romance for a while, so if you love a regency or Scottish romance, check out her full list HERE.

Most book clubs will know her from The Last Bookshop in London and, with The Librarian Spy, she has delivered another WWII novel centered around book lovers.

The novel follows two women – one in Nazi occupied France who works at a newspaper for the Resistance and an American librarian in war-neutral Lisbon who collects war propaganda in hopes of finding coded messages.

Eventually, the women cross paths in an effort to save Jewish lives.

An entertaining story, based on true events, book clubs are likely to love the novel. And Martin throws in a little romance as well.

The Librarian Spy is a novel chosen through Book Club Bites’ collaboration with The Best of Women’s Fiction podcast. Don’t forget to check out the fabulous Best of Women’s Fiction podcast where Madeline Martin discusses The Librarian Spy and more: HERE.

I’ve provided book club questions and delicious food ideas for The Librarian Spy and Madeline Martin has a special recipe for you! So if you are looking for book club ideas and more, keep reading!

The Librarian Spy

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Here’s a brief summary of The Librarian Spy:

From the publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Bookshop in London comes a moving new novel inspired by the true history of America’s library spies of World War II.

Ava thought her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress would mean a quiet, routine existence. But an unexpected offer from the US military has brought her to Lisbon with a new mission: posing as a librarian while working undercover as a spy gathering intelligence.

Meanwhile, in occupied France, Elaine has begun an apprenticeship at a printing press run by members of the Resistance. It’s a job usually reserved for men, but in the war, those rules have been forgotten. Yet she knows that the Nazis are searching for the press and its printer in order to silence them.

As the battle in Europe rages, Ava and Elaine find themselves connecting through coded messages and discovering hope in the face of war.

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The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe

For The Librarian Spy Food Ideas:

There is actually quite a bit of specific food mentioned in this novel, which is unusual for a WWII novel. This is primarily due to the setting of war-neutral Lisbon, which didn’t have as strict rations or shortages like other places. If you are wanting to create a menu for your book club, I think you’ll find plenty of options in this list.

  • Chapter 6 – lentil sausage, rutabagas and bread
  • Chapter 7 – Capile – the drink she and James share
  • Chapter 11 – sausages at the farewell concert
  • Chapter 19 – a visit to a castle with James – sausage and vegetable soup, roasted venison, crème meringue
  • Chapter 23 – pork-free sausage (poultry, potatoes, and breadcrumbs), sardines and crackers, grilled fish, sweets when Noah and Sarah comes to Lisbon
  • Noah’s strawberry jam

Madeline Martin was kind enough to provide us with a pateis de nata recipe that she loves. The pastry is mentioned many times throughout the novel and is a fitting dish with Portuguese influences.

This pastry would pair perfectly with a strong cup of coffee and good conversation!

Whether you choose something from this list or try your own option, I hope these ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for The Librarian Spy.

The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe
A few tips on making Pastéis de nata :

Here are a few tips to help make your cooking experience the best it can be!

  1. Make sure you lay your puff pastry out to thaw plenty of time in advance. Usually puff pastry is found frozen, so you will need to thaw it before using.
  2. Watch your milk mixture closely. You want it to boil but not curdle! Once boiling, remove from heat and stir in the sugar and flour until dissolved.
  3. Do not overfill each cup. The custard should be enough to fill 24 pastry cups. About 2 tbsp in each cup is the perfect amount.

Whether you choose something from this list or try your own option, I hope these ideas will get your creative juices flowing to host your book club for The Librarian Spy.

The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe

The Librarian Spy Book Club Recipe:

Pasteis de Nata

Pasteis de Nata

Flaky pastry surrounds rich custard in this traditional Portuguese treat. Don't miss this easy recipe for Pasteis de Nata!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 22 mins
Total Time 42 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine European
Servings 24
Calories 99 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • A couple strips of Lemon rinds
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup + 1 Tbsp flour
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 puff pastry sheets

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Boil milk, lemon rind and cinnamon together over med-high to high heat.
  • Remove lemon rind.
  • Add sugar and flour to milk and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Set mixture aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
  • While this is cooling, roll one sheet of the puff pastry shell and cut into 12 equal pieces of dough.
  • Spray cups of muffin pan with cooking spray.
  • Squish-flatten the 12 pieces of dough on a flour surface as thin as you can get them without holes and fit them into the cups of the muffin pan.
  • Return mixture to stove and add egg yolks and vanilla, heating over med-high heat until thick.
  • Once the mixture is like a pudding texture, scoop 2 tablespoons of mixture into each muffin pocket. Don’t fill any cup more than halfway!
  • Cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 22 minutes.
  • Repeat steps, cutting second pastry shell, lining the muffin pan, and filling with the remaining custard to make the second dozen.
Keyword custard pastry, filled pastry, pasteis de nata
The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe

More Fun from Madeline Martin:

Please insert a short description of your recipe and why it relates to your novel. Include any information you think readers would enjoy!

Custard is an important part of Portuguese history originating back in the 17th century, when egg whites were used to starch clothes at the monasteries, leaving all those egg yolks—which were ideal for making delicious custards. Pastéis de nata originated in the 18th century, made by monks who used the recipe to keep monasteries and abbeys from closure. They are a hugely popular treat in Portugal (especially for breakfast) and very delicious! This recipe took me several attempts to perfect, which means it’s Madeline-proof (which means probably anyone can make it because I’m not the best cook 😁).

Good food and a good book go hand-in-hand. What is your favorite food to enjoy while reading?

Does wine count? If not, cheese (because it pairs well with wine…) 😀

Did you sample any interesting food while researching this book? Or experience anything exciting while researching?

Absolutely. I try to travel to the country I’m writing about and eat the food I mention in my books. It really enriches the experience and helps me bring the reader along the journey with me in the book. I traveled to Lisbon, Portugal and Lyon, France for research for this novel.

The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions:

*WARNING: May contain spoilers!

These book club questions were kindly provided by the author and/or publisher. Please use only for your book club and do not reproduce them.

  1. Which character did you relate to more—Ava or Elaine?
  2. Do you think you could leave everything you know behind for a new place where you barely spoke the language?
  3. After reading about the dangers the French Resistance faced, do you think you would have joined their ranks?
  4. If your spouse/significant other did not want you to join the French Resistance, would you have done it anyway?
  5. What did you learn in this book about WWII that you didn’t know before?
  6. If you had read the same pamphlets Ava had prior to leaving for Portugal, would you have packed hats too?
  7. The PVDE (Portuguese Police) kept their finger on the pulse of all international activity going on within Portugal. If you noticed they were following you, how do you think you’d react? And if you tried to lose them, how would you do it?
  8. Do you think you would have been able to give up your identity papers to someone in order to save them, even though it would put you at great risk?
  9. Where in Portugal do you wish you could visit after having read The Librarian Spy?

Find Madeline Martin:

Madeline can be found online!

Instagram:  instagram.com/madelinemmartin

Facebook: facebook.com/madelinemartinauthor

www.MadelineMartin.com

Don’t forget to check out the fabulous Best of Women’s Fiction podcast where Madeline Martin discusses The Librarian Spy and more: HERE.

Have you read The Librarian Spy? What did you think? Did it satisfy you or were you left wishing for more? What are some similar books you’ve read?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. In the event of a sale, I will be awarded a small commission (at no extra cost to you or the featured book’s author). All opinions are 100% mine and every book, unless otherwise noted, is handpicked by me to be featured on the site.

Bookish gifts for you or your reader friends!

The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe
The Librarian Spy Book Club Questions and Recipe

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