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Jubilee celebrates an important historical event that happened many years ago.

Taking known historical facts, author Conor Bender skillfully weaves a compelling human story in his first novel, “Jubilee”. On August 19, 1942, the Allies launched the invasion, code-named Operation Jubilee, of Dieppe, France. Essentially,  it was a dress rehearsal for D-Day.  The military force was comprised of 6100 troops of which 5,072 were Canadian. It was a disaster, only: “2,210 returned to England, 1,946 were captured and 916 lost their lives”.*

Bender’s characters illustrate the many faceted face of war. At the top of the pyramid are political, egotistical officials like the vain Lord Louis Mountbatten vying for glory with British Field Marshall Montgomery. Both men blithely playing with people’s lives, moving them around, unfeelingly, like chess pieces. One level down are the administrators, such as Hambro, head of Special Operations, who genuinely cares about his agents but is caught in a moral dilemma of obeying disagreeable, even dishonorable, orders.

Beneath the leaders and the bureaucrats are the vulnerable, the expendable and the least powerful : fliers, soldiers, sailors, intelligence agents and Resistance fighters. Bender does an excellent job describing the air wars through Flying Lieutenant Ian Faraday. He cleverly offers informative descriptions of dog fights, plane types, Rhubarb and Rodeo missions (look them up), landing boats and battle plans to satisfy war aficionados without losing the non-military readers. Showing the camaraderie and the gallows humor of the soldiers and sailors are potent reminders of the humanity underpinning war. Even when battles are won, people died.

He shows the schizophrenic nature necessary to survive as a spy through young, immature British agent Arthur Cutter operating in Nazi-occupied France. Cutter’s youth and immaturity on some levels provide contrast to the serious and deadly skills he must master to survive undercover. Similarly, the fear of the French Resistance who live in constant proximity to the Germans, face danger daily while coping with rivalries within their own ranks are fighting an up close and personal war. Within the French Resistance, a young woman, Talia, not only combats Germans, but also the prejudice of the men of the Maquis who don’t see a fighter - only a female.

Operation Jubilee is the canvas Bender uses to show political infighting, moral dilemmas, aerial dog fights, undercover agents, French Resistance, German reprisals and unexpected love. He merges the various story lines and maintains the suspense throughout the book. Jubilee’s authenticity comes from the fact the characters are not superheroes; they are real people, facing real danger, forced to make real decisions. 

The Cambridge dictionary defines a jubilee as “(the celebration of) the day on which an important event happened many years ago”.**  The name Operation Jubilee was an unfortunate choice for the disastrous invasion in 1942.  Seventy-eight years later, writing a book titled" Jubilee" is appropriate and Bender does it honor.



Reviewed by

Book reviewer for the Lawrence Technological University library. Wayne State University 2009 HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) scholar concentrating on digital storytelling WWII oral historian for the Yankee Air Museum. Tour director and public speaker,


About the author

My name is Conor Bender and I’m the author of Jubilee! Keep an eye out for giveaways, and news about upcoming novels on my website and on instagram! view profile

Published on June 12, 2020

Published by

100000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Historical Fiction

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