"To the Allies she was a fearless freedom fighter, special operations super spy, a woman ahead of her time. To the Gestapo she was a ghost, a shadow, the most wanted person in the world with a five-million-Franc bounty on her head.
Her name was Nancy Wake.
Now, for the first time, the roots of her legend are told in a thriller about one woman's incredible quest to turn the tide of the war, save the man she loves and take brutal revenge on those who have wronged her."
I was vaguely aware of Nancy Wake aka Madame Fiocca, but I didn't know enough about her life to know whether she even survived the war, so for me there was added drama and tension as I had no idea what was going to happen to her or her husband Henri.
The book drops us straight into the action, and we meet Nancy trying to evade the Germans as she scoots across Marseille and witnesses a brutal murder. From then on, the pace barely lets up and this is a very fast-paced read indeed. It was hard to relax even for a moment as the tension never really eases off and the action scenes - of which there are many - were real page-turners.
There's a good sense of time, place, and - always - danger. Reading it, I stayed constantly alert, which heightened the effect and gave perhaps just a glimpse of what life was really like for the resistance fighters. Just a glimpse, though, because the reality must have been even worse. You need a strong stomach to read it but that's an easy job compared with what these people went through.
|The real Nancy Wake - public domain image|
Throughout the book, Nancy is aware that her husband has been captured by the Gestapo but she doesn't know what's happened to him, and neither do we. Again, this device, of not letting the reader know his fate, ratchets up the tension, although, as I said, I wasn't aware of the real outcome and others might be.
On the other hand, the authors have taken some licence and altered the timeline and some key events. I suspect they had good reason for doing so and perhaps it allowed them to give better shape to the plot and story arc. It didn't bother me at all, and notes are given at the back of the book.
Some readers might be surprised at how 'sweary' Nancy can be, but I put that down to her being a New Zealander with none of the quintessential English reserve.
Just below the blurb on the Amazon page it says: "Soon to be a major blockbuster film." I'm not surprised. I think this book will make a terrific film. Nancy, her friends and comrades, and her experiences as portrayed here, will stay with me for a long time.
Amazon Links US UK
*the authors are Darby Kealey & Imogen Robertson