Saturday, May 25, 2013
"The Girl Who Fell from the Sky", by Simon Mawer
This novel is a fascinating blend of fact and fiction, the story of Marian Sutro, an ordinary young woman, who barely out of school did the most extraordinary things in 1943 for the war effort.
Recruited by the SOE (Special Operation Executive) at the age of 19, Marian finds herself undergoing commando training in the Scottish Highlands and ultimately, one autumn night parachuted from an RAF bomber into the South-West of France to join the Wordsmith resistance network and act as a courier for them.
This clever, cool-headed and bilingual young woman’s first mission is to make her way to Paris and take new radio crystals to Yvette, the underground radio operator she had met previously at the training center. At the same time she must navigate the treacherous streets of Paris, a city battened down and where the danger of discovery is extreme and seek out Clément Pelletier, a nuclear physicist and family friend, a man of vital importance to her superiors and persuade him to leave France for England.
This is a very engaging and a poetically written story, one that captures beautifully the mood of the time. It is first told from Marian’s perspective but once dropped into France and assumes the code name Alice and a life as a secret agent, the narratives now in Alice’s words switches from the past to the present tense and the story slowly unfolds into breathtaking intrigue. The tight prose keeps the plot moving at a steady pace till it suddenly and shockingly ends. I was so disappointed and wanting more…Oh well… maybe a sequel will answer my questions one day.
Some may say there is nothing original both with its plotting and characterization but it is nevertheless a gripping story that gives us an insight into bravery, treachery and terror.